Qasr Al Watan

How to Visit Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace of the UAE in 2024

by Abu Dhabi Travel Planner Team

Abu Dhabi’s latest architectural wonder Qasr Al Watan open to the public

Qasr al Watan – the UAE’s Presidential Palace – opened its dramatic gates to the public in March 2019. Sitting on vast grounds occupying 380,000 acres at the tip of Abu Dhabi island, it is now one of Abu Dhabi’s most magnificent buildings – though it faces stiff competition from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque as the city’s most beautiful building!

The Palace allows visitors to explore the UAE’s history and traditions further while they journey through a vast collection of cultural artefacts, art and rare manuscripts. Visitors will also be able to understand the Palace’s architecture and design, which incorporates the essence of the spirit of the United Arab Emirates.

Far more than just a stunning building, the Palace serves as a functioning house of Government.

Qasr al Watan includes the offices of the President of the UAE (His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan), His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai) and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (to be announced following the recent death of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan).

It is also where the Federal Supreme Council (the UAE’s highest legislative and administrative body) meet and is home to UAE Cabinet Meetings. The private offices are not included in the public tour, but the main palace building and library are open for exploring.

Opening Hours for Qasr Al Watan

Unless the Presidential Palace is closed for state visitors or special events, doors are open to the public areas of the palace seven days a week.

  • 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM (last entry 5:00 PM)
  • Palace in Motion Show 7:30 PM
  • Mondays are now open (previously, they were closed, same as Louvre)
  • Ramadan Hours 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM (last entry 4:00 PM) No Palace in Motion Lightshow. TBC 2023.

Qasr Al Watan Tickets

  • Adult Tickets AED 65
  • Junior Tickets AED 30
  • Under 3’s are free

Tickets can be pre-booked online here, or purchased at the ticket counter, though its recommended you buy in advance as only an allocated number of tickets will be sold per hour.

Group tours have recommenced post-COVID. You can pay an extra 20 AED per person (for groups of up to 4) or hire your own private guide for 600 AED.

Self-Guided Tours of Qasr Al Watan

You can now opt for a multimedia guide at the ticketing booth (20 AED additional cost) to enhance your Qasr Al Watan experience. Take your headset throughout your visit and listen along to pre-recorded audio clips for an interactive experience across the Palace.

There’s also a kids’ multimedia headset option, which includes fun games and activities they can enjoy along the way; they’ll even get a palace-issued certificate on completion!

The self-guided tours are available in English, Arabic, German, Russian, and Chinese.

We’d highly recommend this option for a more immersive experience, as signage alone will not be enough for a thorough understanding.

Signage on the tour is in both Arabic and English.

Qasr Al Watan Dress Code

If you are wondering what to wear to Abu Dhabi’s Presidential Palace, we would err on the side of conservative. The official guidance is “Guests should wear respectful clothing when in the palace.”

The dress code rules are not as restrictive as what you should wear to the Grand Mosque; however, ladies should cover their knees and shoulders and wear nothing too clingy or revealing. A head covering is NOT required; men should wear trousers and tops with shirt sleeves.

You can see our complete guide to the Abu Dhabi dress code here.

How To Get There – Qasr Al Watan Location

The Presidential Palace can be found in an area of Abu Dhabi known as Ras al Akhdar. Many refer to it as the West Corniche. Head beyond the end of the main Corniche beach road, past the Founders Memorial and Emirates Palace on your right and Etihad Towers on your left.

At the very end of this road, you will come to the incredibly grand entrance gate – this is for VIPs only! Visitors will enter at a smaller entrance just off to the right, where you are taken to visitor parking. From here, pre-booked tickets are checked, and then a short shuttle (with commentary) takes you through the palace grounds to the palace entrance.

Qasr al Watan is a stop on the Big Bus Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Route. Your entry to Qasr Al Watan is not included in the Big Bus ticket; however, you can easily walk from the bus stop to the entrance in the cooler winter months.

New – Cultural Express Service Dubai to Abu Dhabi

Launched in 2022, this is a FREE bus service takes visitors on a first-come, first-served basis from Dubai to 2 key cultural attractions in Abu Dhabi, the Louvre (closed Mondays) and Qasr Al Watan. Here’s how it works:

  • Departure from Sheraton Mall of the Emirates Hotel, Dubai at 9:00 am
  • Arrival at Louvre Abu Dhabi at 10:35 am
  • Departure from Louvre Abu Dhabi at 1:00 pm
  • Arrival at Qasr Al Watan at 1:35 pm
  • Departure from Qasr Al Watan at 6:00 pm
  • Arrival at Louvre Abu Dhabi at 6:35 pm
  • Arrival at Sheraton Mall of the Emirates Hotel, Dubai, at 8:10 pm

Tours of Qasr Al Watan

There are several tour companies that can assist you with guided tours of Qasr Al Watan, including your pickups, either from Abu Dhabi or as part of a day tour from Dubai.

Day trips around Abu Dhabi that include Qasr Al Watan

Try these options for day private day tours around the highlights of Abu Dhabi

Day trips from Dubai to Abu Dhabi that include Qasr Al Watan

With the re-opening of domestic borders, day tours from Dubai to Abu Dhabi have increased with much more regularity. Do still check your entry rules for Abu Dhabi and check out these tours, which can help you with transport from Dubai to the city highlights:

Presidential Palace: Qasr Al Watan Visitor Experience

After arriving at the visitor centre, guests are transported within the grounds by a free shuttle (read luxury coach) to the palace entrance.

Use this Qasr Al Watan map to get your bearings – each of the rooms is described in more detail below!

Map of Qasr Al Watan Presdiential Palace Abu Dhabi
Qasr Al Watan map supplied Farah Experiences// Qasr Al Watan

A Grand Entrance to Qasr Al Watan – Presidential Palace Abu Dhabi

Solid maple entrance doors to Qasr Al Watan
The entrance doors are made of solid maple with hand-carved patterns, detailed with 23-carat gold

1. A Memory from the Palace

Your journey through the palace commences with the Media Room, where official press conferences are held. Enjoy this photo opportunity to commemorate your visit to one of the world’s most unique cultural landmarks (pictures can be collected at the end of your tour in the gift shop).

In ordinary times, this is the point where group tours would gather to commence their guided palace tour.

2. The Great Hall

Next, you’ll step foot into the utterly breathtaking Great Hall. “Great” is not quite superlative enough to describe the grandeur and extreme opulence exuded by this space. Shades of blue and white complement an abundance of gold decorating every surface.

From the central dome and archways down to the finest details in mosaic tiling, it is a stunning display of Arabian craftsmanship and artistry.

Adding to the intrigue, each corner of the room has a large, mirrored geometric cubes offering different sensory experiences. A unique juxtaposition, let your inner art critic decide whether you love them or hate them!

3. Presidential Gifts

Here you’ll find an exhibition of diplomatic gifts that the UAE has received from the past decades. A fascinating insight into cultural considerations and protocols in selecting diplomatic gifts, all beautifully displayed.  

4. Spirit of Collaboration

Dominated by a 350,000, 12-tonne crystal chandelier, this is the room where the UAE Cabinet and Federal Supreme Council meet. It is also where the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab League meet when the UAE is hosting (this wing of the palace may be closed during your visit).

5. The Presidential Banquet

In the stuff of fairytales, see where officials from around the globe are treated to modern Emirati hospitality.

6. Presidential Meeting Room

Where state officials and dignitaries from around the world are hosted in a traditional Majilis-style set up.

7. Qasr Al Watan Library

Featuring a collection of 50,000 books, the library aims to preserve and share centuries of Arabian knowledge and culture.

Qasr Al Watan Library

8. House of Knowledge: Age of Enlightenment

Encompassing two wings, this exhibit highlights the most notable Arab scholars in the fields of astronomy, science, art and literature.

Sitting between the two wings of the House of Knowledge stands the simply stunning gold calligraphy sculpture “The Power of Words”. The gold is actually an inscription quoting the country’s founding father;

“Wealth is not money and oil. Wealth lies in people, and it is worthless if not dedicated to serve the people” ~ Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan

The Power of Words – Qasr Al Watan

The sculpture is designed and crafted by the renowned Emirati artist Mattar bin Lahej.

9. Palace in Motion

If you are able to stick around until the evening, you can catch Palace in Motion, an intriguing nighttime light and sound show that sees the palace lit up. Previously only on weekends, you can now catch the palace light show nightly from 7:00 pm. The show lasts approximately 15 minutes.

Palace in Motion, Qasr Al Watan the UAE Presidential Palace shown lit up at night in Abu Dhabi
Palace in Motion light show // Images supplied Farah Experiences

A gift shop can be found at the conclusion of your palace tour before taking the shuttle back to the palace entrance.

The Palace Grounds

The palace grounds are quickly becoming well-established, having started just a few short years ago as a blank canvas.

In addition to the Power of Words sculpture found inside the palace, a further two silver sculptures can be found in the glistening sunlight of the garden. Also adorned with quotes from Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nayhan they read:

“Science and history walk side by side. By using science, man can record his history and preserve it for generations to come, so others may learn from it and come to know what their ancestors achieved.”


“The education of our people is a great wealth. We are proud of our educated nation because through knowledge and science we will open the horizon to a glorious future.”

The sculptures are intentionally designed for visitors to step inside along them to be appreciated from a different perspective – and yes, they are utterly instagrammable! #QasrAlWatan

Where to Eat Near Qasr Al Watan

There is currently one dining option within the Palace at “Legma” grab ‘n go, which you’ll find at both at the Palace exit and the Visitor Centre exit.

Dhiyafat Qasr Al Watan, found in the main Palace and Maqha Al Maktaba, situated within Qasr Al Watan Library, are temporarily closed.

What restaurants are near Qasr Al Watan?

Nearby there’s a large selection of restaurants at neighbouring hotels. You will likely need a taxi or some form of transport, though, as the buildings are not really within easy walking distance in the heat.

  • We highly recommend combining Qasr Al Watan with afternoon tea at Emirates Palace
  • A trip to the palace on a Saturday morning followed by buffet brunch at Nahaam is the perfect pair
  • Late afternoon trips can be paired with sundowners at Rays Bar, Conrad Abu Dhabi

A great activity to pair with Qasr Al Watan is to take a trip to Observation 300 in Etihad Towers – from here, you can then get spectacular views looking back to the Presidential Palace and across the city to help put everything in perspective.

From Etihad Towers, Emirates Palace in the foreground and Qasr al Watan in the distance

Where to Stay Near Qasr Al Watan

The Presidential Palace is not a residential palace; however, you are immediately adjacent to one of Abu Dhabi’s most impressive hotels fit for Royalty – Emirates Palace.

If that’s not quite in your budget, there are several other nearby hotels to try, with pools, beachfrontage and some with highrise views over the city. Why not try:

You can find all our top accommodation choices for Abu Dhabi here.

More Frequently Asked Questions Visiting Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace

What’s the dress code for Qasr Al Watan?

In accordance with local laws and customs, guests are asked to wear respectful clothing when in the palace. It’s recommended to cover knees and shoulders at a minimum. You can find our complete guide to respectful local dress in Abu Dhabi here.

When is Qasr Al Watan open?

Unless there is a state visit, the palace is open to the public 6 days a week (closed on Mondays) throughout the year. See daily opening times and modified timings for Ramadan above.

Does it cost to see Qasr al Watan?

Yes, for tourists, there is a cover charge of 65AED to visit inside the palace. You can book Qasr al Watan tickets here.

How long did it take to build Qasr al Watan?

Construction of the palace took seven years, between 2010 to 2017.

Can I take a stroller to Qasr al Watan?

Yes, strollers are permitted in the grounds or can be hired for 40 AED in the visitor centre.

How long does it take to tour Qasr al Watan?

We’d recommend allowing yourself at least two hours. The guided tour takes a full hour, and by the time you transfer to and from the visitor centre, stop in the gift shop, take a refreshments to break, and take photographs in the grounds, you’ll easily fill this time.

Qasr al Watan has quickly become essential to any visitor’s Abu Dhabi itinerary. It may only be new, but already plays an integral part in the city’s rich cultural landscape and is undoubtedly one of the world’s most extravagant and beautiful landmark buildings.

You may also like to read more about

  • Where is Abu Dhabi? – Get your bearings on exactly where Abu Dhabi is, how it came to be the UAE capital and more fun and interesting facts about Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates

Before you go… Important things to consider when planning a trip to Abu Dhabi

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Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our hotel or tour recommendation links.

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