The public will be able to take a glimpse inside the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi for the first time next week.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, announced on Monday that a building in the palace compound, named Qasr Al Watan – or Palace of the Nation – will open for visitors to take part in tours.
The decision to create the new cultural landmark, he said, came from the President Sheikh Khalifa in the bid to boost cultural understanding of the UAE.
In line with the UAE President's vision, I have given directives to allocate a building in the Presidential Palace compound, called Qasr Al Watan, 'Palace of the Nation'. Visitor tours of the palace will serve as a knowledge base and boost cultural understanding of the UAE. pic.twitter.com/eFYJZGYySU
The doors to Qasr Al Watan will open everyday from 12pm on March 11. The permanent cultural landmark will then open daily from 10am - 8pm. The tour will show visitors a library that is home to vast collection of books and resources about the Emirates political, social and cultural history.
Visitors will also be able to experience interactive cultural exhibitions. In the west wing, they will learn about the formation of the UAE and its governance, and have access to halls typically reserved for official summits. Within the House of Knowledge in the east wing, visitors can explore a vast collection of artefacts and rare manuscripts that highlight the Arab world’s contributions to various intellectual fields including science, arts, humanities and literature.
In the evening, visitors will enjoy a light and sound show which will be projected onto the facade of the building. A story told in three acts, the show will draw a link between the aspirations of Qasr Al Watan and the vision of the nation, reflecting on the UAE’s journey of the past, present and future, reported state news agency Wam.
The Presidential Palace is the official meeting place for the UAE Cabinet and the Federal Supreme Council - the highest constitutional authority in the UAE. It is also where official state visits and global leaders are hosted. Construction of the palace was completed in 2015 by the Consolidated Contractors Company and took 63 months but the project also involved a host of architects, interior designers, landscape gardeners and contractors.
It is built on the Ras Al Akhdar peninsula, beside Emirates Palace hotel, and the area including the palace and gardens encompasses 150 hectares.
The style of the palace shares similarities with the hotel and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in that it has flickers of Mughal-era architecture that was in vogue during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
Chief characteristics of this style include large onion-style domes, courtyards, delicate ornamentation and lush gardens.
The palace houses the formal offices of the the President, Vice President and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, while it has also played host to a roster of global leaders since 2015.
Narendra Modi, the prime minster of India and Xi Jinping, president of China, have been hosted during their visits to the UAE.
The move to open the palace comes as Abu Dhabi makes a sustained push to attract more tourists. The capital welcomed more than 10.27 million visitors in 2018, while Louvre Abu Dhabi attracted a million in the year since it opened on November 11, 2017. The recently re-opened Qasr Al Hosn fort in the centre of Abu Dhabi is also expected to boost numbers coming to the capital.