Abu Dhabi – Home of Culture in the United Arab Emirates

A group of nine Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah’s (DAI) friends took a short trip to Abu Dhabi, from the 26th to the 28th of January 2023. The trip was aimed at visiting “Bollywood Superstars”, at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, where items from The al-Sabah Collection were displayed on loan as part of this temporary exhibition. We also had the privilege of visiting several cultural and historical attractions that offered a rich and diverse representation of the UAE’s heritage. These visits were an eye-opening and educational experience that allowed us to better understand the cultural and historical significance of the city and its people.

The first stop on our itinerary was the Louvre Abu Dhabi. This modern museum, housed in a stunning architectural structure designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, boasts a collection of over 600 works of art from various civilizations, including ancient cultures, the Renaissance, and contemporary art. We were especially impressed by the museum’s permanent exhibitions, which provided a comprehensive view of the cultural heritage of civilizations from around the world. Our visit also coincided with a special exhibition hosted in the Louvre, titled: “Bollywood Superstars”. The exhibition included a wide range of precious items on loan, highlighting early story teller props, shadow puppets, photography, Mughal arbors, daggers, mythological & religious lithographs. Most importunately, Bollywood Superstar’s’ included three objects from al-Sabah collection: (i) a dagger, (ii) a box, and (iii) a hookah base; all from the Mughal Indian dynasty.

In the afternoon we visited Qasr Al Hosn, a historical landmark and the oldest stone building in Abu Dhabi. It was designed by Mohammad Bastaki and built in 1761 as a conical water tower to defend the only fresh water well in Abu Dhabi Island. It was then expanded several times and remained the Amir’s palace until 1966. Qasr al-Hosn is currently the subject of extensive historical, archeological, and architectural research. The fort houses a museum displaying artefacts and pictures representing the history of the country. It also has a range of weapons, used through the region’s history, on display.

We then visited Qasr Al-Watan, a palace that is located within the Presidential Palace complex. This palace is a representation of UAE’s cultural heritage and serves as a venue for official state events and functions. Visitors can tour the grand halls and beautiful gardens of the palace, giving them a glimpse into the life of the country’s leaders and the elegance of its cultural heritage. In the evening we enjoyed watching the spectacular light and sound show Al-Qasr.

On the last day, we visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, built between 1996-2007, one of the largest and most iconic mosques in the world. This magnificent structure showcases the grandeur and elegance of Islamic architecture, with its gleaming white marble, intricate mosaics, and towering minarets. The mosque provides a glimpse into the spiritual life of the Muslim community in Abu Dhabi and serves as a symbol of the country’s religious and cultural heritage. It features 82 domes, 1000 columns, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers and the world’s largest hand-knotted Persian carpet.

Our cultural trip to Abu Dhabi was a truly enriching experience that offered us a deeper understanding of the city’s heritage and cultural diversity. The museums and historical sites we visited provided a wealth of information and insights into the country’s past, present, and future. This trip was made possible by the moral support and encouragement of DAI, as part of their mission of advocating Art and Culture.


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