heritage art and culture across the emirate

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Culture lovers will be in their element in Abu Dhabi with this three-day itinerary that soaks up the heritage, art and culture of the UAE capital. 

Start at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the world’s largest mosques. Next, discover Wahat Al Karama, a permanent tribute to the UAE's brave soldiers and other Emiratis recognised as martyrs in the country. The final stop of day one is Heritage Village, a family-friendly spot in which to experience traditional aspects of the desert way of life. 

Start day two at Al Ain Oasis, with its still-operational traditional falaj (ancient irrigation system) and meandering pathways shaded beneath 147,000 date palms and other fruit trees. Al Jahili Fort, built in the 1890s, is next. Qasr Al Muwaiji is the final feature of the day, with this historic fort playing a major role in the history of the UAE for over a century. 

On day three, explore picturesque Qasr Al Hosn, which stands as a narrator of Abu Dhabi’s history. Manarat Al Saadiyat is the second feature of day three, encouraging visitors to channel creativity. End your tour at Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first universal museum in the Arab World.

Highlights

3 Days

Bus, Car

50 KMs

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Highlights

3 Days

Bus, Car

50 KMs

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

What to expect

Day 1 highlights

Total Distance

28 KMs

Number of stops

3

Transport

Bus, Car, walk

Duration

6 Hrs

Start your tour at the majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque before heading to the touching Wahat Al Karama tribute and, finally, the family-friendly Heritage Village.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Stop 1

Stop 1

Recommended Time: 2 hours

The impressive and inspiring Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the world’s largest mosques and the only one that captures the unique interactions between Islam and other world cultures. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founder of the UAE, had a very specific vision for this mosque: to incorporate architectural styles from different Muslim civilisations and celebrate cultural diversity by creating a haven that is truly welcoming and inspirational in its foundation. The mosque’s architects were British, Italian and Emirati, with design ideas borrowed from parts of Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan and Egypt, among other Islamic countries. The end result is a breathtaking, gleaming architectural marvel.

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Stop 2

Stop 2

Recommended Time: 5 minutes

Spanning 46,000 square metres and located directly opposite Abu Dhabi's world-famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Wahat Al Karama is a timeless tribute that honours the Emirati martyrs who sacrificed their lives in service of their country. Wahat Al Karama is home to a permanent memorial commemorating the United Arab Emirates' heroes, including soldiers, police, diplomats and civilians, since 1971.

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Stop 3

Stop 3

Recommended Time: 2 hours

If you’re looking for a family-friendly spot in which to experience traditional aspects of the desert way of living and immerse yourself in a time capsule that brings an old-world souk (market), mosque and camp from pre-modern UAE to life, Heritage Village is the place. A traditional oasis village offering a glimpse into the emirate’s past, here you can shop, discover artefacts and watch artisans making pottery, blowing glass and weaving fabric on a loom.

Run by the Emirates Heritage Club, this village is also home to public workshops where craftsmen demonstrate traditional skills such as metalwork, pottery, weaving and spinning yarn. They might even offer you a chance to try your hand at their trade.

Don’t forget to check out the village’s little spice shop that offers a range of dried herbs, handmade soaps and plenty of souvenirs to take home to family and friends.

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Stop 1

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Recommended Time: 2 hours

The impressive and inspiring Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the world’s largest mosques and the only one that captures the unique interactions between Islam and other world cultures. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founder of the UAE, had a very specific vision for this mosque: to incorporate architectural styles from different Muslim civilisations and celebrate cultural diversity by creating a haven that is truly welcoming and inspirational in its foundation. The mosque’s architects were British, Italian and Emirati, with design ideas borrowed from parts of Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan and Egypt, among other Islamic countries. The end result is a breathtaking, gleaming architectural marvel.

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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
What to expect

Day 2 highlights

Total Distance

6 KMs

Number of stops

3

Transport

Car

Duration

8 Hrs

Immerse yourself in history at the lush 4,000-year-old Al Ain Oasis before exploring the picturesque and historic Al Jahili Fort and Qasr Al Muwaiji fort, both of which offer great photo opportunities.

Al Ain Oasis

Stop 1

Stop 1

Recommended Time: 3 hours

With its still-operational traditional falaj (ancient irrigation system) and meandering pathways shaded beneath a thick canopy of over 147,000 date palms and other fruit trees, Al Ain Oasis is the perfect place to bring family or friends to see what agriculture in this region has looked like for millennia.

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Stop 2

Stop 2

Recommended Time: 2 hours

Since opening its gates in 2008, Al Jahili Fort – set in Abu Dhabi's lush garden city of Al Ain, about an hour and a half away from the capital – has been a focal point of activities associated with the philosophy, culture and heritage of Abu Dhabi. Al Jahili is one of the largest forts in the UAE, built in the 1890s on the orders of Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, also known as Zayed the First, as the home to members of the ruling Al Nahyan family.

Between 2007 and 2008 the fort was impeccably restored by the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi. Transformed into a cultural centre and tourist attraction, it now houses a permanent exhibition devoted to Sir Wilfred Thesiger, the intrepid explorer, travel writer and photographer who, with his Emirati and Omani companions, crossed the world's largest sand mass, the Empty Quarter (Rub' al Khali), twice in the 1940s. Al Jahili Fort is also home to a temporary exhibition gallery. Surrounded by a lush park, this enchanting fort won the prestigious Terra Award for Internal Design and Layout in 2016. 

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Stop 3

Stop 3

Recommended Time: 2 hours

For more than 100 years, this incredible historic fort in the lush garden city of Al Ain, about an hour and a half away from Abu Dhabi, has played a major role in the history of the United Arab Emirates. Today, it offers visitors an opportunity to understand the country's story. Situated at the western approach to Al Ain city, Qasr Al Muwaiji's picturesque structure is a fine example of early 20th-century mud-brick architecture and a great place to take stunning photographs. The building is a simple but striking form: a square enclosure with projecting corner towers and a grand entrance gate.

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Stop 1

Al Ain Oasis

Recommended Time: 3 hours

With its still-operational traditional falaj (ancient irrigation system) and meandering pathways shaded beneath a thick canopy of over 147,000 date palms and other fruit trees, Al Ain Oasis is the perfect place to bring family or friends to see what agriculture in this region has looked like for millennia.

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Al Ain Oasis
Al Ain Oasis
What to expect

Day 3 highlights

Total Distance

14 KMs

Number of stops

3

Transport

Bus, Car

Duration

8 Hrs

Explore the picturesque and historic Qasr Al Hosn structure, then immerse yourself in arts and culture at Manarat Al Saadiyat, before viewing priceless pieces at the breathtaking Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Qasr Al Hosn

Stop 1

Stop 1

Recommended Time: 2 hours

Over the centuries, Qasr Al Hosn has been home to the ruling family, acted as the seat of government, housed the National Consultative Council founded by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the UAE, as well as being a national archive. Today it stands as the nation's living memorial and a narrator of Abu Dhabi's history.

The oldest standing structure in Abu Dhabi, the picturesque Qasr Al Hosn is home to an original watchtower that makes for incredible photographs. Built around the 1790s, this commanding structure overlooked the coastal trade routes and protected the growing settlement established on the island. Qasr Al Hosn comprises two major iconic buildings: the Inner Fort (originally constructed in 1795) and the Outer Palace (1939-45). Transformed into a museum in 2018 following over a decade of intensive conservation and restoration work, Qasr Al Hosn is a national monument that encapsulates the development of Abu Dhabi from a settlement reliant on fishing and pearling in the 18th century, to a modern, global metropolis, displaying artefacts and archival materials dating back to as far as 6000BC. Today, the beautiful Al Hosn site, which has seen immaculate renovations, is a wonderful place at which to while away a few hours and soak up the fascinating history of the UAE capital. Children, too, will love exploring its beautiful structure and nooks and crannies.

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Stop 2

Stop 2

Recommended Time: 2 hours

Saadiyat Island’s art, cultural activity and community events centre, Manarat Al Saadiyat brings Saadiyat's vision to life, encouraging visitors to come together and share, experiment, create their own art, discover exhibitions, exchange ideas, enjoy sumptuous food, or listen to talks. 

Meaning 'a place of enlightenment' in Arabic, Manarat Al Saadiyat is home to the annual Abu Dhabi Art fair, as well as an outdoor events terrace, café and brasserie, three galleries for temporary exhibits, a photography studio, an art studio, 250-seat auditorium and gift shop.

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Stop 3

Stop 3

Recommended Time: 3 hours

The iconic Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first universal museum in the Arab World, translating and fostering the spirit of openness between cultures. As one of the premier cultural institutions located 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.

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Stop 1

Qasr Al Hosn

Recommended Time: 2 hours

Over the centuries, Qasr Al Hosn has been home to the ruling family, acted as the seat of government, housed the National Consultative Council founded by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the UAE, as well as being a national archive. Today it stands as the nation's living memorial and a narrator of Abu Dhabi's history.

The oldest standing structure in Abu Dhabi, the picturesque Qasr Al Hosn is home to an original watchtower that makes for incredible photographs. Built around the 1790s, this commanding structure overlooked the coastal trade routes and protected the growing settlement established on the island. Qasr Al Hosn comprises two major iconic buildings: the Inner Fort (originally constructed in 1795) and the Outer Palace (1939-45). Transformed into a museum in 2018 following over a decade of intensive conservation and restoration work, Qasr Al Hosn is a national monument that encapsulates the development of Abu Dhabi from a settlement reliant on fishing and pearling in the 18th century, to a modern, global metropolis, displaying artefacts and archival materials dating back to as far as 6000BC. Today, the beautiful Al Hosn site, which has seen immaculate renovations, is a wonderful place at which to while away a few hours and soak up the fascinating history of the UAE capital. Children, too, will love exploring its beautiful structure and nooks and crannies.

Read More
Qasr Al Hosn
Qasr Al Hosn