Celebrating Arab Heritage — Qasr Al Hosn-bringing people together


Saudi Gazette

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi will open up Al Hosn, a national monument to the public tomorrow that will be followed up by a week of celebrations at the heritage site. The new generation of Emiratis pay homage to their founding father- Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the driving force behind the formation of the United Arab Emirates, who said:

“He who does not know his past cannot make the best of his present and future, for it is from the past that we learn.”

Al Hosn includes the historic site Qasr Al Hosn Fort- which was reportedly built in the late 1700’s as a watchtower to protect the first and only freshwater well in Abu Dhabi which then expanded into a small fort by the then ruler, Sheikh Shakhbut bin Dhiyab Al Nahyan.

During the press preview on Tuesday, HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority revealed the site stressing on the historic significance of Qasr Al Hosn, describing it as “a force of protection and a force of bringing people together.” He said it provides a history lesson on not just the county but also its leaders.

Qasr Al Hosn has witnessed Abu Dhabi’s history and it’s phenomenal progress- making it one of the most iconic structures in the country. From sole reliance on pearling and fishing in the 18th Century, to a global leader in various fields- the monument documents the journey for its visitors.

The Inner Fort exhibition traces the story of Qasr Al Hosn, of the ruler and his relationship with people including everyday life in the Fort and how this historic landmark also hosted a regular majlis where people would come from different places to talk with the leader directly. The outer place, constructed by Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan, related stories of the families who lived in the place and their everyday lives including the majlis. Visitors can have guided tours or engage with the interactive shows designed with visual and audio aids to bring the past to life.

Over a decade of restoration and construction, it has been reinstated in its original coastal desert, sand plain landscape. The site also comprises of

the National Consultative Council building, the Cultural Foundation and the House of Artisans.

The inaugural exhibition Artists and the Cultural Foundation titled ‘The Early Years’ features 100 works of artists in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Curated by Maya Allison, Chief Curator and Executive Director, NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, with Alia Zaal Lootah, Senior Curatorial Assistant, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Artists. “We found most of the Emirati artists had traveled to Egypt to study art. When the artists returned they found their own voice in the early 90’s,” Allison said showcasing some of the works by Emirati artists. She said the show invites people to reflect on the past and present of Abu Dhabi as a city but also it’s arts scene.

House of Artisans showcases traditional handicrafts and a year-round programme of workshops and courses that will be offered to the public.

The planting and landscaping throughout are inspired by the indigenous vegetation in the desert around the emirate. The site also features the Musallah that are inspired by the polygonal-patterned shapes of the dried salt flats, or Sabkha in Arabic.

The opening of Al Hosn site will be marked with a week-long celebration from 7 to 15 December 2018. Free tours, events and musical performances will bring the site’s history to life and offer visitors a glimpse into the story of Abu Dhabi and its people. The opening week programming will include activities exploring Emirati history and culture, from traditional Talli embroidery, rope-making and khoos weaving to learning about how the first fishing nets were cast and made, fish salted, and oysters opened.