Exploring Abu Dhabi's public sculptures

From Yas Bay's sculpture trail to installations in parks, here’s how to explore the capital's public artworks

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Abu Dhabi’s art credentials speak for themselves. From international museums to a wealth of local institutes, there are plenty of places for art lovers to find inspiration across the city.

But a stroll through the capital’s public areas is as good as any museum trip, with public artworks and sculptures dotted across the city.

Yas Island’s newly opened Yas Bay is home to several impressive instalments, several of which were created specially by internationally renowned artists.

Famed New York-based artist Kaws, real name Brian Donnelly, who is renowned for his interpretations of pop culture icons, including Mickey Mouse and Snoopy, created Final Days for the area’s public art trail. It features his trademark cartoon-like character with crossed-out eyes and a distorted mouth.

'Final Days' by American artist Kaws is one of two new sculptures at Yas Bay. Photo: Yas Bay

Out by the water, visitors to Yas Bay can also see a glowing 10-metre-tall golden flower sculpture by Takashi Murakami, one of Japan’s most prominent contemporary artists.

'Flower Parent and Child', a golden sculpture by Takashi Murakami on the Yas Bay Waterfront promenade, Abu Dhabi. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

The Flower Parent and Child installation features Murakami’s signature gold leaf work and is one of his largest pieces to date. All sides of the sculpture are decorated with flower motifs and the piece is designed to represent hope.

'The Emerging Man' sculpture features a giant head coming out of the water on the Yas Bay Waterfront, Abu Dhabi. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Yas Bay is also home to The Emerging Man sculpture, a giant head coming out of the water. Set by the steps of the waterfront, the concrete artwork is also called The Giant and features an eight-metre-high bronze-coloured head and two oversized hands. Partly submerged in the Arabian Gulf, the sculpture was designed to withstand salt water, high sea temperatures and soaring humidity.

'Astrocat', one of four sculptures by CoolRainLabo along the Yas Bay Waterfront, Abu Dhabi. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Other pieces come from renowned artists including CoolRainLabo, responsible for the four Astrocat installations located across the destination’s waterfront plaza, and Indian-Canadian street artist Fatspatrol who created the giant mural The Humans near the Etihad Arena.

Other pieces around Yas Bay include installations from artists Supakitch, MonkeyBird and Beastman, who all transformed substations into colourful canvasses.

The Masdar Park camel art installation in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National

Elsewhere in the city, visitors to Masdar City Central Park will see a giant camel sculpture standing tall against the greenery. Made from twisted metal, the camel features an elongated middle, as if it’s been stretched.

Scroll through the gallery above to see more of Abu Dhabi’s public artworks

Updated: September 09, 2022, 6:01 PM