Travelling back. The Qasr Al Hosn Festival is being held at the Fort’s ground Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/XPRESS

Abu Dhabi: The Qasr Al Hosn Festival, which began on Wednesday, is showcasing a treasure trove of Emirati history and heritage dating back over 200 years.

At the heart of the 11-day festival is the Qasr Al Hosn Fort, regarded as a symbolic birthplace of the UAE’s capital.

Organised by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, the second edition of the Qasr Al Hosn Festival is held on the fort’s grounds and covers 17,000 square metres.

The venue is divided into four zones - Oasis, Desert, Marine and Abu Dhabi Island - in addition to the Cultural Foundation Building.

Historic and cultural themed exhibitions, workshops and performances are among a slew of activities lined up at the Qasr Al Hosn Fort which has been thrown open to the public for the first time.




One of the biggest attractions of the festival is the Qasr Al Hosn Exhibition which illustrates the significance of the fort and its historical context through models, paintings, documentaries and interactive panels.

Among the exhibits is the main wooden door of the fort that was initially designed to protect the fort from attack.

The exhibition also traces the history of the fort and how for generations it housed the ruling Al Nahyan family as the city developed over the years.

Another not-to-be-missed exhibition is the Homecoming of the National Pavilion, the country’s exhibition from the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of the La Biennale Di Venezia “Lest We Forget: Struc-tures of Memory in the UAE”.

Visitors can take three tours: Qasr Al Hosn Fort Tour, The National Consultative Council Chamber Self-Guided tour and Experiencing the Cultural Foundation Building self-guided tour.

The Qasr Al Hosn Fort tour gives visitors a first-hand experience of the fort’s ongoing conservation process.

For the first time, the public will have access to the inner fort, as well as the National Consultative Council Chamber and the living quarters.

A comprehensive public programme including exhibitions, activities and installations take place at the Cultural Foundation Building, which is also part of the festival venue. Before it closed for renovation in 2010 the building served as a hub for cultural activities in the capital city.

The line of events will highlight the building’s significance as a landmark of Abu Dhabi’s modern heritage.

In the main hall, there is a family workshop area which allows families to try their hands in traditional handcrafts, toymaking and pottery making. A library section will hold sessions in Arabic and English for children.

The open air Cultural Foun-dation Amphitheatre will hold cultural performances under four themes – Memory of the Emirati Song, which includes performances by folk artists, Cinema Emiratiya that will showcase a collection of documentaries and cinemas that trace the history of the UAE, Abu Dhabi Today, an interactive programme that portrays Abu Dhabi as a city between tradition and modernity, and Sand Artist Performance, in which Emirati artists will recreate the history of the Qasr Al Hosn Fort with sand.

Other highlights of the festival are five daily live shows which will be held at the Outdoor Festival that include Al Ain Zoo Bird Show, Horse Whisperer and Habet Ramel Play In addition, there are also storytelling sessions in which Emiratis will share their experiences on life back in the days of Qasr Al Hosn.




This year, a unique cultural experience exhibition “Gahwa” will celebrate the Emirati tradition of the Gahwa rituals in a modern interactive experience. In a separate tent adjacent to the Cultural Foundation, Gahwa expert Sabayeh Al Kaabi will take you through the traditions and techniques of Gahwa making and sampling different kinds of Gahwa.


Things you need to know

There are five entrance to the festival

There are 70 Daily Shuttle bus pick-up and drop offs

Thursday, February 12 is ladies only day. children under 12 are also allowed

250 university students serve as Qasr Al Hosn Ambassadors to guide visitors

There are 11 Food and Beverage Stalls

Ticket price : Dh10 for adults. children below 12 enter free

Timings: 4pm to 11pm


YOUSPEAK: Did you attend the Qasr Al Hosn Festival. What was your experience?