Dive into the history of the former pearling city that’s Abu Dhabi

Progress doesn’t have to come at the expense of culture and tradition. From the moment you arrive in Abu Dhabi you will find that this is indeed true for this capital city which has retained an enigmatic mix of old and new – heritage and modernity.

Abu Dhabi is a hyper-modern city with high-tech innovations and progressive pursuits. Intermingled with these forward-thinking aspects is a rich traditional culture with oral storytelling, poetry, crafts, music and dance. Rooted in its Bedouin heritage, the city will give you an understanding of how this former pearling and fishing village has come to be what it is today.

Heritage Village

A good place to start is the Heritage Village. This reconstructed traditional village with old-style buildings and landscapes showcases the region’s heritage and desert lifestyle. Here you get a glimpse into the Emirate’s past. The Heritage Village is a charming family-friendly place where you can immerse yourself in a time capsule that brings to life an old-world fishing village, souk, mosque and Bedouin camp.

Abu Dhabi Culture

You can observe artisans making pottery, blowing glass and weaving fabric on a loom. Don’t forget to check out the village’s little spice shop, with stalls in goat-hair tents, that offers handicrafts, dried herbs, handmade soaps and souvenirs to take home.

Heritage Village is located near Marina Mall on the Abu Dhabi Corniche Breakwater.

Qasr Al Hosn and Cultural Foundation

Qasr al Hosn, Abu Dhabi’s oldest building, started life as a watchtower in the 1790s. Today it is a museum, following more than eleven years of intensive conservation and restoration work. This national monument encapsulates the incredible growth of Abu Dhabi from a settlement reliant on fishing and pearling in the 18th century to today’s modern, global metropolis.

Qasr Al Hosn is home to two major buildings: the Inner Fort, originally constructed in 1795, and the Outer Palace, constructed 1939-45. Over the centuries, it has been home to the ruling Al Nahyan family, the seat of government, a consultative council and a national archive. You will find an exhibition of archival images and oral stories as well as artefacts dating back to as far as 6,000 BC.

Next door, the House of Artisans and the neighboring Cultural Foundation are part of the Qasr Al Hosn historic complex. Both go to great lengths to preserve and nurture skills passed down from the Bedouin people to new generations. In addition to exhibitions, talks and demonstrations, there is a Children’s Library as well as workshops and themed areas for kids of all ages.

Qasr Al Hosn is located on Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street.