Qasr Al Watan (aka The Presidential Palace) opened up in Abu Dhabi earlier this year (circa March) – and a visit there is an Abu Dhabi/UAE “must-do/see”. We visited the Palace in October when our friends from New York were over for a holiday.
The Palace is so grand and stunning outside and in, that it makes the Emirates Palace next door look like a shed! I’m embarrassed to upload any of my pics because they do not give the Palace justice.
On the day of our visit, we arrived at 6pm. Before we had even parked our car in the free Visitor Car Park, a golf buggy appeared by our car offering us a (free) lift to the entrance (he he welcome to Abu Dhabi!)
I had booked our tickets in advance via the website (www.qasralwatan.ae) which allowed us to skip the ticketing queue. General admission for one adult is 60 AED ($16.33 US / £12.62).
After the ticketing office was security checkpoint, and then a large coach which drove us up to the Palace entrance. It wasn’t particularly busy the night we went so all of this took approx 20 mins.
For the next hour, we walked around inside the Palace, going into all the exhibits and taking photos of all its grandeur. Like I mentioned above, I didn’t capture the grandeur very well since my photography skills are fairly pathetic… you’ll see what I mean in the below video I made using all my ‘best’ pics.
At approx 7:15pm, we were ushered out of the main building to the outside area by security. We waited for 30 minutes for the must see event: the nightly light show that is projected onto the Palace’s exterior!
The light show started at 7:45pm sharp and ran for 15 minutes.
It was absolutely brilliant. Comparable to the Vivid Light Show held in Sydney every year. Play the video below to watch the light show.
We were one of the last to exit the Palace and saw that everyone else had already set up camp in a huddle, facing the Palace, waiting excitedly for the light show to begin.
Security said we could sit at the very front which was on the ground. It did cross my mind that if I went down I may not be able to get up but took the risk anyway.
I am so glad I did because I was able to film the light show with a (sort of centered) and unobstructed view.
We will be returning to the Palace in a couple of weeks time (when my in-laws come for a visit). I think we will go a bit earlier so we can see everything at a more leisurely pace (eg 5:30/5:45).
If you plan on visiting, it’s a very straightforward attraction to go to. Just make sure you read the FAQS and Visitor Info and double check the opening hours and light show times (it is an operating building so it has been known to close for certain events).