This beautiful memorial was recently opened by the UAE government to honour the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the United Arab Emirates. Sheikh Zayed was much loved by the people of the UAE for all the great things he has brought to the country.
This is not your typical tourist spot but we nonetheless recommend a visit to hear all about the story of the founder of Abu Dhabi and the UAE.
What to expect visiting the Founders Memorial
Opened in 2018 to mark 100 years since the birth of Sheikh Zayed, the Founder’s Memorial includes a welcome centre, a stunning monument and beautifully manicured gardens to be explored.
The centrepiece of the Founders Memorial is a public artwork known as the Constellation, a 3 dimensional model of the founding father’s face housed inside a 30m high Pavillion.
Made up of 1,327 geometric shapes suspended from 1,110 cables, it is especially beautiful at night when thousands of lights illuminate to form the face of Sheikh Zayed.
Founders Memorial Welcome Centre
In the adjoining building, come and enjoy a documentary and multimedia experiences explaining more of the life story and achievements of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Staff are also available here to take you on a tour (free but must pre-book).
The Gardens at the Founder’s Memorial
Several gardens surround the Constellation. There is an elevated walkway, providing visitors with an excellent view of the Constellation as well as inspiring quotes of Sheikh Zayed on plaques displayed around the walkway.
The Sanctuary Garden sits in front of the public memorial, featuring local Ghaf and Sidr trees and many other local species.
Falaj Water Channel has been designed as a prominent water feature of the gardens. It is inspired by the ancient irrigation system known as the aflaj, which provided water to the UAE’s people for centuries.
The Heritage Garden is a carefully curated section of the gardens populated with local plants known for their traditional uses, including Desert Cotton, Henna and Toothbrush Tree. A small but fascinating and educational display.
Where to find the Founders Memorial Abu Dhabi
You’ll find the Founders Memorial beside Emirates Palace Hotel, at the corner of Corniche Road and 18th Street in Abu Dhabi.
Coming along the Corniche heading west, it is straight ahead of you before you come to the Palace on your right, or as you turn towards Abu Dhabi Marina Mall, it will be on your left.
If you head towards Abu Dhabi Marina Mall then u-turn at the next lights, it will take you back to a more convenient car park right next to the visitor centre.
The Big Bus Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour also stops here for the convenience of visitors (or you can just take a snap from the bus as you head in the direction of Qasr Al Watan).
If you are staying at any of the hotels along the west end of the Corniche (such as The St Regis, Radisson Blu, Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers or Grand Hyatt) it makes for a wonderful evening walk within easy distance.
Opening times and cost for The Founders Memorial
Opening hours: Daily from 9am to 10pm
Entry to the Founders Memorial is free
You can join in with complimentary tours held every 30 minutes in Arabic and English. Spots for these are limited, and since COVID-19 measures were put in place you should now advance book your visit here.
Etiquette for the Founder’s Memorial Abu Dhabi
Although not a religious building, it’s a place of quiet contemplation and reflection. You should be respectful of other visitors and observe rules and regulations posted on site.
Women are not required to be dressed in an abaya or full head covering but be mindful or dress code and etiquette in Abu Dhabi public places – we explain this in a lot more detail here.
Learn more about the UAE’s culture and history
History buffs and the culturally curious wanting to learn more about the UAE’s past and it’s Founding Father are highly recommended to spend some time on their trip to Abu Dhabi visiting the historic city of Al Ain.
Al Ain – also called the Oasis City – is the birthplace of Sheikh Zayed and the Al Ain Palace Museum, his former home, has some interesting displays explaining more about his family tree and early life in the Emirates, in times before the discovery of oil.
Before you go… Important things to consider planning a trip to Abu Dhabi
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Abu Dhabi, a handy guide on what to pack as well as top tips for first-timers on the dos and don’ts, laws, and customs in the UAE.
- Check the most up-to-date COVID entry rules for Abu Dhabi.
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!
- Discover the best places to stay in Abu Dhabi, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
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.Abu Dhabi Travel Planner
Feature image courtesy www.foundermemorial.ae media gallery