Qasr Al Watan, Presidential Palace: Design, Tickets, Timings

Seldom in your life you get the opportunity to explore true royal life, which is why, when you do get the chance to explore it, you better not miss out on it. Thankfully, Abu Dhabi offers you a royal opportunity too good for you to pass on. A palace of dreams, this is the epitome of grandeur, luxury, and aristocracy. No other place in the city can hold a candle to this splendid venue.

We are talking about the effervescent Qasr Al Watan, which is the presidential palace in Abu Dhabi. Deemed as the ‘Palace of the Nation’, it lives up to its name in every facet and then some. A perfect exhibit of what it is to live like the royals, this palace, which is now open as a public place of interest is among the place that has to make its way to your itinerary if you are traveling to Abu Dhabi.

Among the countless architectural marvels, theme parks, world-class restaurants, natural retreats, jaw-dropping islands, and high-end shopping venues, the Qasr Al Watan stands firmly in its own league. Having carved its place head and shoulders above its peers, this palace is what they say are dreams made of. With a rich history that adorns its walls, there is no denying why this is a preferred tourist destination.

Overview & History

Being the formative governmental palace of the country, Qasr Al Watan sees the likes of the highest-ranked officials inhabiting its walls. After construction of the monument was completed in 2017, it was initially used only for official purposes and to celebrate the heritage of the UAE.

The palace hosted foreign leaders of the states and served as the meeting ground of the supreme council and the federal cabinet of the UAE. It still continues to serve all these purposes, but since 2019, its doors have been permanently opened to the ordinary public.

On 11th March 2019, in a ceremony hosted by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president, prime minister, and minister of defense of the UAE, opened the palace to the public with the blessings of Sheikhs Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the UAE.

Soon after, it became one of the most visited sites in Abu Dhabi and was appreciated for its architecture and cultural implications. Within months, it was included among the “Top 20 Landmarks of Art and Culture in the World’ by Hotel and Rest, one of the most prolific travel and tourism websites on the internet. The very next year, in 2020, it garnered a nomination for the “Main Cultural Tourist Attraction in the Middle East.”

Today, it stands as the centerpiece for the art, culture, and royalty in the city, and the decision to make it accessible to the public has allowed people to get a glimpse into the history and inner workings of the officials of the country. Without a doubt, it is one of the most prestigious buildings in Abu Dhabi.

Design & Décor

Covering a space of over 150 hectares of land, Qasr Al Watan stands on the Ras Al Akhdar peninsular, next to the iconic Emirates Palace Hotel. The front and exterior of the palace are made of limestone and white granite, giving it a sophisticated regal look.

The intricate design of the palace which is ornately decorated is a masterful display of impeccable art. You will notice shades of Mughal Era architecture in its construction reminiscing of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.  One of the most striking features of the palace is its iconic chandelier which is adorned with over 350,000 pieces of crystal.

The lush green manicured garden, white onion-style dome, opulent gardens, and elaborate ornamentation provide a breathtaking view that is indeed a sight to behold and something that you don’t come across everyday.

The color scheme also signifies the various facets of the country. While the honey and beige hues represent the ever-shifting sand dunes that cover a major portion of the country’s landscape, the blue and white represent the sky and purity of the place respectively. The gold and caramel is an ode to the sunshine.

With a marvelous dome standing tall on top of the central chamber called “The Great Hall”, the palace is divided into two wings – the eastern and the western. While the eastern wing is known as the “House of Knowledge”, being home to valuable objects and artifacts, the western wing serves official purposes.

The Eastern Wing

Being the “House of Knowledge”, the eastern wing has an eclectic collection of gifts given to the country from visiting officials from various other nations. Notable among its collections are a replica of the Birmingham manuscript of the Quran and the Psalms of David of the Bible.

It also houses an extensive library that has more than 50,000 books that will give you in-depth insights into the political, social, and cultural history of the UAE. From heritage to significant biographies, from social sciences to statistics, from literature to administration, you will discover it all in this gem of a room.

The Western Wing

Serving the official purposes of the palace, the meetings of the Cabinet and Federal Supreme Council and the nation are held in a specially designed room in this wing, known as the “Spirit of Collaboration”.

Furthermore, it also hosts crucial summits of various international organizations including the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab League, and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. All the official events and banquets take place here, and the diplomatic gifts collected from various nations are securely kept in this wing.


Qasr Al Watan is located in Al Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

If you are coming from Abu Dhabi Corniche, which, by the way, is one of the best places in Abu Dhabi that you can visit for free, then you need to head southwest on Corniche Street. Take the second exit at the roundabout at the end of the road, and keep driving by following the road until you see the palace. It will take roughly 10 minutes to reach the venue.

From Yas Island, you need to take the E12 west through Saadiyat Island, crossing the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Turn right at Shinaf Street and then take a left onto Corniche Street and follow the road to the place. You will reach the venue in 40 minutes.

If you are coming from Saadiyat Island, then you need to follow the E12 southwest across the Sheikh Khalifa Bridge. Proceed to turn right at Shinaf Street and then take a left on Corniche Street and keep driving past the beach to the palace and you will reach the venue within 300 minutes.

You have to head to the visitor’s center from where you will be able to enter the palace. You will also find a huge parking area for you to park your vehicle free of charge. If you want valet services, those are available for AED 35. You will also be able to rent a stroller for AED 20 and have access to wheelchairs free of charge.


Qasr Al Watan is open from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM. However, the last entry time to enter the palace is at 5:30 PM. The Lights and Sound Show, known as the “Palace in Motion,” takes place at 7:00 PM, and the last entry to enter the show is at 6:30 PM. These timings are often subject to change depending on various extenuating circumstances. The show might not run every day. So, contacting the authorities before planning a visit is recommended.

The parking area of the palace is open from 9:30 AM to 9:30 PM. Overall, you will need around two hours to visit the palace and keep some time in hand if you want to shop and dine at the palace.

Guided tours are available for you to get an enhanced and enriched experience where you will be able to get insights into the history of not only the palace but the entire city and UAE by extension. Lasting about an hour, you get access to both the palace and the garden from these guided tours. These tours depart every 30 minutes, and you can choose your preferred language between Arabic and English.


Qasr Al Watan takes on an enlightening educational tour of the Arabian culture and the history of the Emirates. The different zones are home to the valued exhibits that give you a rich insight into Emirati governance. With a deep emphasis on learning and cultural appreciation, the zones are filled with enriching knowledge of the journey that led to the creation of Arabian history, presented in a contemporary setting.

A Memory from the Palace

The beginning of the tour is marked by encapsulating your presence in the palace, where you will have the special privilege of getting your photo taken in the dedicated media room of the palace.

This is the perfect way to commemorate your visit to one of the most respected cultural landmarks of the nation. Memories are even more beautiful when you get to make them last longer, and that is what the essence of this place is. After the tour, you can collect the photographs from the gift shop.

The Great Hall

Explore the artisan craftsmanship of Arab motifs in the iconic Great Hall of the place, which houses the legacy of the venue. Each aspect of the hall is covered with rich ornamentation and impressive mosaic patterns.

From the archways to the central dome, which, by the way, is one of the largest of its kind in the world, you are bound to gasp at the sheer beauty of the place. The craftily positioned mirrored cubes at every corner elevate the beauty of the hall.

Presidential Gifts

The collection of gifts in the palace represents more than just materialistic transactions. They are a leeway into the goodwill between the UAE and the rest of the world. You will also learn of the different protocols and cultural considerations that go into selecting a diplomatic gift for a nation.

Explore this vibrant showcase of international cultural diplomacy, where you will get a peek into foreign cultures represented through their artifacts and gifts to the UAE. Even though the cultures of every nation vastly differ from one another, the affection is reflected in their carefully picked gifts for the UAE.

Presidential Banquet

You learn a lot by getting a glimpse of how someone hosts their guests. This is exactly what you will find at the Presidential Banquet in Qasr Al Watan. Giving you a first-hand look at how the UAE hosts other nations in the world, you will get the ultimate view of royal Emirati hospitality.

Learn about the cuisines, protocols, and customs that are followed for treating the respected officials from around the world which makes for a world-class affair.

Spirit of Collaboration

This is where the future of the country is decided. Hosting events of paramount importance that are facilitated by the presence of figureheads from the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab League, and the Federal Supreme Council, among others, this zone is tightly secured and is witness to some of the most pivotal decision-making moments for the UAE.

As you admire the iconic chandelier of the room that represents the illumination and equality of the nation, you will learn of the protocol and diplomacy that goes into hosting events of such a powerful caliber.

House of Knowledge

The House of Knowledge, located in the eastern wing of the palace, comprises two rooms that house various rare manuscripts, books, and artifacts, including the Birmingham Quran. Nurture the immense wealth of knowledge displayed through materials from a plethora of genres of art, science, literature, and astronomy.

Giving you powerful insights into the golden age of Arab culture defined by the contributions made towards refining human knowledge, this place encompasses the evolution of civilization and progress.

The Library

If you are someone who has a knack for exploring the evolution of literature, then the library of Qasr Al Watan will give you everything and then some. With over 50,000 books covering all the ages of Arabian scholarship, you will find all the relevant information that led to the creation of the UAE and its rise to global power.

This library was a vision of imparting how to preserve and share centuries-worth knowledge of the Arab world and its contribution to the world. The richness of the Arab culture is highlighted on every page of every book that finds itself on a shelf in this prestigious library.

The Light and Sound Show

As the sun goes down and the sky changes its tone to the night view, the palace prepares itself for perhaps the most awaited hour of the day through its famous light and sound show, known as “The Palace in Motion”, which offers a sight that you will not forget anytime soon after witnessing it.

With the cool breezes hitting you, the spectacular show sets the mood for the evening. Through the audio-visual display projected over the façade of the palace, you are privy to a story told in three acts – the past, the present, and the future, accompanied by a scintillating narration.

A captivating moment told through the working of 52 projections that is part of one of the largest projection installations in the Middle East, the walls of the palace light up with the storytelling visuals. The collaboration of the sounds of the traditional Emirati instruments with the visual beauty and futuristic cutting-edge twists makes for an unforgettable experience. A visit to the palace is incomplete without this bright delightful display at the end of the day.


The general tickets of Qasr Al Watan give you access to explore the palace. To watch the lights and sound show known as “The Palace in Motion”, you need to purchase tickets separately.

Guided tours known as the “Architectural Craftsmanship Tour” are not mandatory but are recommended to get deeper insights into what encompasses the spirit of the palace. Please note that the tickets for the tours are valid only in conjunction with an entry ticket.

General AccessAED 65AED 30
Palace in MotionAED 25AED 12
Guided ToursAED 20

We recommend you purchase the tickets online from the official website of the palace to avoid long queues at the venue. It should also be noted that, even though the lights and sound show starts at 7:00 PM, you need to get the tickets by 6:30 PM at the latest, after which tickets are not sold for the show.

Dining & Shopping

No fine tour day is complete without a lavish spread of snacks and beverages. Dine at the popular Legma restaurant located at the exit of the palace and visitor’s center to energize yourself as you unwind with your loved ones with the breathtaking view of the palace by your side.

As you explore the palace, be sure to give it a wholesome meaning by purchasing high-quality exclusive souvenirs and mementos that are inspired by the architectural beauty and intricate designs representing the rich culture, history, and heritage of the UAE.


Qasr Al Watan has welcomed some of the most important figureheads of the world under its roof. It is more than just a beautiful palace. The architectural display, which has been influenced by Mughal and Arabian motifs, makes for an artistic experience that will leave you spellbound. With the palace open to the public since 2019, this is the ultimate peek into the royal window of some of the most respectable citizens of the country.

Between the rich collections of artifactsthat tell the tale of the nation’s evolution of culture, the palace is a dictionary of some of the most pivotal decision-making moments that create the future of the nation. A perfect gateway of a day with your family, this is one of the pivotal landmarks of the city that checks the box of architecture, history, art, culture, literature, and the nation’s politics.

Whether you are a resident of Abu Dhabi or a tourist coming for a trip, you have to explore this presidential palace, not only for its sheer architectural marvel but also for what history that it encompasses in its grasp. Not to mention, the lights and sound show provide for a splendid evening experience where the past, present, and future stories of the Emirates are told through cutting-edge technology over the façade of the palace.


Handy Details about Qasr Al Watan You Need to Know

Is there a dress code to enter Qasr Al Watan?

There is no defined dress code to enter Qasr Al Watan. However, in accordance with the local customs and laws, it is expected that the guests wear respectful clothing when entering the palace that covers the shoulders and the knees as a gesture of courtesy to their fellow guests.

Are there any special provisions for the elderly and people of determination?

People of determination are given complimentary access to the palace along with a companion as long as they can show that they are registered in the UAE. For international guests who are people of determination, there is complimentary access if there are any obvious signs of disability, the discretion of which will lie to the authorities’ judgment. However, their companion will not receive complimentary access. Wheelchairs are provided for the elderly and people of determination.

Can I return to the premises without paying once I leave?

No, once you leave the premises, you can’t enter on your previous ticket. You have to purchase a new ticket to enter again.

Are pets allowed inside the palace premises?

Unfortunately, pets and animals are not allowed inside the palace premises.

Can I refund my tickets?

Unfortunately, once you purchase the tickets, you can’t refund them.

Are there any food and drinking options available?

You can head to the Legma restaurant located at the exit of the palace and the visitor’s center. However, keep in mind the fact that food and drink are permitted only in the restaurant. You can’t carry or consume them on the palace premises.

Are guided tours available at the palace?

Yes, guided tours are available at the palace that will give you in-depth details of the palace as well as the Arabian culture and the history of the UAE. These tours last for an hour and are available in both English and Arabic. Known as the “Architectural Craftsmanship Tour”, they are available for AED 20.

Are mobile phones allowed inside the palace premises?

Yes, you can carry mobile phones inside the palace. However, as a matter of respect to your fellow visitors, you will be expected to put your mobile phones on silent while inside the palace premises.

Is photography allowed inside the palace premises?

Yes, photography and filming inside the palace premises are allowed as long as they are not for commercial purposes.

Is there any Wi-Fi connection inside the palace?

Presently, there is no Wi-Fi connection inside the palace grounds.

Are there parking charges?

You will find ample parking space by the palace where you can park your vehicle free of charge. You can even avail of valet services, which, by the way, are to be paid for.

Disclaimer: The price rates and timings mentioned are subject to change. Please contact the authorities before planning a visit to the palace. Contact the palace at +971 60 054 4442 from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM any day of the week.