Soaring white domes, dramatic chandeliers and detailed craftsmanship are the hallmarks of Qasr Al Watan, the UAE's newest cultural icon in the heart of Abu Dhabi.
Beyond stunning white granite and limestone façade, the Palace of the Nation draws back the curtains on the rarefied world of royal diplomacy.
Walking through the majestic solid maple doors with hand-carved patterns, visitors to Qasr Al Watan are treated to a unique collection of diplomatic gifts received from visiting heads of state and foreign dignitaries, displayed to the public for the first time. Carpets from Turkmenistan, decorative vases from the Orient and fine sculptures from Europe all bring colour to the dry world of diplomacy.
The gifts come in all shapes and sizes, and reveal valuable information about the cultures and countries they represent. Here's a quick look at the some of the unique gifts received by the UAE that are on display at Qasr Al Watan for guests to enjoy:
Gifted by Japan
As part of the Japanese collection in the Presidential Gifts exhibit, the Samurai Armour represents a class of highly-skilled Japanese warriors called the Samurai, renowned for their loyalty and strong moral code. The traditional Samurai code of honour, discipline and morality –known as bushido or “the way of the warrior” – is today the basic code of conduct for much of Japanese society.
Gifted by the Federal Republic of Germany
A symbol of strength and national heritage, the falcon is one of the most important animals associated with the identity of the UAE. An image of a falcon forms the federal emblem of the country. Hooded falcon masks are a unique gift since falconry has been practised in the UAE for 4,000 years. In the past, it was an important form of hunting, while today it is one of the most honoured sports in the country and is associated with the Arab values of courage, honour and nobility.
Gifted by State of Kuwait
Traditional weapons play an important role in the communication of the history and heritage of the UAE. Alongside their practical use for hunting and protection, local swords, daggers and rifles have social and cultural significance and can communicate identity and status. These weapons are often gifted as a sign of respect.
Phoenician vase and Korean Moon jar vase
Republic of Lebanon and Republic of Korea
The Presidential Gifts collection has several decorative vases, and they are regarded as one of the most beautiful art forms in the world. The Phoenician vase on display dates from the Phoenician period and was found in Byblos, Lebanon. Although its beginnings are lost in time, modern scholars believe the site goes back at least 7,000 years. Also on display is a Korean Moon jar vase. The design of the vase is extremely simple and this makes it different from the patterned and decorated pottery commonly found in rest of the world.
Medals and Coins
The exchange of medals has been a mark of friendship and respect for centuries. Last year, the UAE presented the Order of Zayed to visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping in recognition of his role and efforts in supporting the development of close bilateral cooperation between China and the UAE. Recently, the UAE has accorded the Zayed Medal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Symbols rich in cultural meaning are often used in diplomacy. Every country has emblematic places, icons and features that represent its national pride. Due to their cultural significance and symbolic meaning, they epitomise the identity of a nation. The above display is unique to both Japan and China.
Tickets available on arrival, or online: standard general admission to the palace and gardens: Dh60 for adults, Dh30 for children under 17. Guided tours are an extra Dh30.
For more info and buying your tickets online visit: https://www.qasralwatan.ae/en/booking