Qasr Al-Hosn, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abu Dhabi's symbolic birthplace, Qasr Al-Hosn (which means the Fort's Palace) is the emirate's first permanent structure, which was home to the emirate's ruling Al Nahyan family. A permanent, free-to-enter exhibition at the Qasr Al-Hosn Center tells the story of Abu Dhabi and its people through the city's oldest building. Fascinating oral testimonies and historic photographs bring this important monument to life. Contemporary Emirati voices reflect on Abu Dhabi's history and transformation and Qasr Al-Hosn's key role as a vibrant symbol of Emirati heritage, culture and tradition.



Qasr Al-Hosn began life in the 1760s as a coral and sea stone watchtower, with a commanding position overlooking the sea, later transformed into an impenetrable fort. Due to the shells' reflective effect, the fort's walls would sparkle in the sun offering a welcome coastal navigational tool for the region's merchants. Mangrove was chosen to make the flooring and roof structure due to its natural strength and durability.

During the exploration and discovery of oil between 1939 and the 1950s, Qasr Al-Hosn went through a period of expansion and an iconic palace enclosed the initial fort. The Father of the Nation, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, ordered a large scale renovation of Qasr Al-Hosn, transforming it from ruler's residence into a museum and repository of collections relating to Abu Dhabi and the Gulf.

Now, Qasr Al-Hosn is going through a new phase. Earlier this decade, it was discovered that the white render on the fort's walls was causing corrosive moisture to be trapped on the original coral stone bricks. A project is underway to reveal the original brickwork and allow the structure to breathe.