On December 7th, the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi opens Qasr Al Hosn, one of the city’s oldest and most storied heritage sites, complete with a landmark inaugural exhibition celebrating the building’s history and heritage.

Together with learning UAE artists, the Cultural Foundation will include access to a Visual Arts Centre, while will also provide space for workshops and art studios. In 2019, a 900-seat theatre and the first Children’s Library of its kind, will round out the remaining components.

The opening exhibition, Artists and the Cultural Foundation: The Early Years will feature more than 100 works by artists active in the institution’s early days in the 1980s and 90s. Curated by Maya Allison, Chief Curator and Executive Director, NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, with Alia Zaal Lootah, Senior Curatorial Assistant, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Artists and the Cultural Foundation is testament to Qasr Al Hosn’s history as a hub of creativity and culture.

The site itself is of immense historical importance. It encompasses two buildings: The Inner Fort, a building that dates to around 1795, initially designed to protect the island, and the Outer Palace, built in the 1940s, which together bare witness to over two centuries of Emirati history and culture. Visitors to the site will also likely recognise the National Consultative Council building, a site that was critical to early negotiations during the unification of the Emirates.

Prior to beginning work on the restoration, a Cultural Foundation was set up by HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, who said of the project: “Qasr Al Hosn embodies the heritage of Abu Dhabi, and a poignant witness to the historic and fundamental milestones in the development of our country.”

The site will also include a House of Artisans, celebrating the diversity of craft and design in the UAE. There, exhibitions will be held as well as courses and training that focus on traditional Emirati handicrafts such as as Al-Sadu (weaving), Khoos (palm frond braiding) and Talli (embroidery). It is hoped that these courses will enable the transmissions of these forms for future generations, thereby promoting their survival.

The opening program will be marked with a week of festivities and celebrations. From December 7th to 15th, Emiratis will be treated to tours, events and musical performances that will take into account the site’s unique history, offering visitors a glimpse into the story of Abu Dhabi’s culture and people.

Address: Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street، Al Hosn – Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates