A huge screen displays the pictures of Sheikh Zayed at the Founder's Memorial Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: A large number of visitors flocked the Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi, a permanent national tribute to Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, which opened its doors to the public on Sunday.

The entry is free to the monument. Tourists and residents shared their delightful experience of visiting the memorial on the first day with Gulf News.

Greg Conard, a tourist from the United States, said he wanted to visit the memorial on the very first day and he found it very nice. “It’s very well-organised and soothing place. This is my first time in Abu Dhabi and I found it a very pretty place.”

Greg Conrad and Sharon Greg at the Founder's Memorial

He said he worked 40 years back in Kuwait, so he is familiar with the UAE and region.

“We are on a cruise trip and just anchored in Abu Dhabi this morning. First place I visited was the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a truly magnificent work of Middle Eastern art and architecture. Very beautiful place,” Conard said.

An increased tempartaure of 40 degree on Sunday did not deter Conard and many others from visiting the magnificent monument.

“It’s pretty hot today but it not uncomfortable for us at all and we are enjoying it. In India, we were talking on the street and sweating but here it’s comfortable,” Conard said.

More than 20 tour guides are there to explain visitors about the memorial, heritage of the Founding Father and the traditions of the UAE.

The main entrance from Marina Mall side has an information desk and a giant L-shaped multimedia screen that displays old pictures, hobbies of Shaikh Zayed, his love for people, culture and heritage of country.

This air-conditioned indoor info-desk and video screening are equipped with comfortable couches for visitors to sit and watch the brief introductory film on Zayed.

A Russian visitor, Maxim Kourdi, was busy capturing small bits of the monument and landscape of the memorial in his camera. He said, “I visit Abu Dhabi twice a year. I like this country. Since I learnt about the opening of the memorial, I wanted to first visit it. I found it a true tribute to the founding father. It’s perfect.”

Platonic solids used to Shaikh Zayed's portrait

“I will come back in the night again to see its beauty during the night,” he said.

“In our country it is mostly snowing and stormy weather, but here it looks pleasant to me”, he said.

Kourdi said all constructions in the UAE are very magnificent and stylish. Places are nice, clean and comfortable, weather is good, except harsh summers, he said.

Sharon Greg from the United States said: “It’s beautiful place and I think that during the night its beauty will multiply when multi-faced stones will be lit up. From far, still we can see an image of a person, Shaikh Zayed, carved out with the help of handing stones.”

“I wish to stay by late in the evening to see it during night. But sadly, we have to cruise out by the evening,” she said.

The memorial spread over 3.3 hectares of pristine public space with landscaped areas planted with trees and shrubs indigenous to the UAE and the Arabian Peninsula. An elevated walkway in the Memorial offers captivating views of The Constellation, the Corniche and the Abu Dhabi skyline.

‘The Constellation’, the monumental artwork that forms its centrepiece, coincides with the Year of Zayed initiative that marks Shaikh Zayed’s 100th birth anniversary.

Installed at the heart of the memorial, The Constellation is one of the largest artworks of its kind.

The work by public artist Ralph Helmick depicts a dynamic three-dimensional portrait of Shaikh Zayed, and can be experienced differently from multiple viewing points around the monument and from other vantage points, offering a series of infinitely evolving personal encounters with the great leader’s image.

Shaikh Zayed Memorial
Visiting time: from 9am to 10pm daily
Entry is free