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Abu Dhabi's Culture

Ignite your curiosity and immerse yourself in Abu Dhabi's local culture and creativity. Wander through enchanting artworks, delve into inspiring museums, and uncover vibrant heritage treasures exclusive to the emirate.

1. Explore Louvre Abu Dhabi

Step inside the iconic Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first universal museum in the Arab World, translating and fostering the spirit of openness between cultures. As one of the premier cultural institutions in the heart of the Saadiyat Cultural District on Saadiyat Island, this art lovers’ dream displays works of historical, cultural and sociological significance from ancient times to the contemporary era.

 

From the moment this iconic museum opened its doors in Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi art scene elevated to a global scale, implanting a strong sense of pride in locals and residents alike.

2. Emirati culture in Al Ain

Al Ain, the UAE's oasis city, is a natural wonder of the world, where palm trees outnumber houses and ancient waterways nourish the desert land. The city’s history is a source of pride, so much so that the region is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. The landscape is as diverse as its culture, from the busy city streets to the desolate desert dunes. In the city, you’ll come upon ancient forts representing time-honoured traditions with important stories of the nation's origin to tell. 

A visit to Al Ain can be anything from a tranquil escape to an adrenaline-fueled adventure. The lush green oases are a haven for calming walks and natural history lessons. Meanwhile, out in the deserts and mountains, engines roar as they climb the dunes and hearts beat a little faster on hikes up high peaks. Immerse yourself in the vibrant and bustling souks. Watch traditional artisans craft materials into fine souvenirs, breathe in the unforgettable smell of Arabian spices and perfumes and taste delicious Emirati cuisine. 

3. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

When you enter Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, you will understand why it is such a special place. Here, people from all walks of life come together to take in the architecture's beauty and gain a deeper understanding of religion and culture in the United Arab Emirates. The mosque is one of the world's largest and was the vision of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan - the Founding Father of the UAE. He envisaged the creation of a welcoming and cultural haven that inspires people from all backgrounds.

Even the construction was a cultural collaboration. The grand structure was designed and built by skilled teams from all over the world, including 1,300 Iranian artisans who hand-knotted the main prayer hall's carpet - the world's largest.

On your journey through the marbled halls, you'll see one-of-a-kind treasures, including gold-plated Swarovski chandeliers, the courtyard's vast marble mosaic artwork and reflective pools that mirror some of the many amethyst-and-jasper-embedded columns. When you're outside, look up to see the mosque's four stunning minarets that proudly stand at 106 metres.

4. Qasr Al Hosn

In a city like Abu Dhabi, where things are constantly evolving, there are some parts where time almost stands still. Qasr Al Hosn is one of them. The city's oldest standing structure is a commanding figure surrounded by Abu Dhabi's glittering skyline, which, when you see it in person, is a beautiful juxtaposition of the past and present.

Qasr Al Hosn in Abu Dhabi was built in the 1790s and was once home to the ruling family. The building also housed the National Consultative Council, founded by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the UAE. Transformed into a museum in 2018 after a decade's worth of intensive conservation and very delicate restorative work, walking into the Al Hosn fort is like stepping into a time capsule.

On entering, the first iconic buildings that you will see are the Inner Fort, constructed in 1795, and the Outer Palace, built between 1939-45. Slowly, look up and lay your eyes on the original watchtower. When Abu Dhabi was a small fishing village, Qasr Al Hosn overlooked the coastal trade routes and protected the growing community on the island. Walking through every area of Qasr Al Hosn is a delightful experience that makes you want to linger longer. You can easily while away a few hours soaking up the fascinating history of the UAE capital or looking at artefacts and archival materials from 6,000 years ago. And as for children, exploring the nooks and crannies of this ancient structure is sure to give them a sense of adventure and excellent material for storytime!

 

Today, the Al Hosn palace has become the nation's living memorial of a time long gone and a visual reflection of Abu Dhabi's history.

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