Arts and Literature

Al Barza majlis at Abu Dhabi’s Qasr Al Watan is now open to the public

Written by The Frontier Post

Farah Andrews

Qasr Al Watan’s Al Barza majlis is welcoming visitors for the first time since the presidential palace’s opening in 2019.

The Emirati majlis is a place of gathering and council, which can hold up to 300 guests and is decorated with impressive chandeliers and golden finishings.

“The Emirati majlis is the UAE’s deep-rooted cultural tradition of hosting meetings for members of the community to deliberate and share information amongst each other,” explains a Qasr Al Watan statement about the space. “Historically, a barza refers to a majlis session during which important matters can be brought to the attention of a sheikh.”

The scale of Al Barza is an attraction in and of itself, as the second-largest room in the palace, after the Great Hall, which it is located adjacent to.

Qasr Al Watan’s Al Barza can host up to 300 people. Photo: Qasr Al Watan
Qasr Al Watan’s Al Barza can host up to 300 people. Photo: Qasr Al Watan

Visitors who take guided tours or make use of the multimedia headsets will learn more about the traditional role of majlises, which are “designated spaces for cultural, political and social gatherings that embody the spirit of participatory politics in the UAE”.

Located in Abu Dhabi’s presidential palace compound, Qasr Al Watan, or the Palace of the Nation, offers an opportunity to explore the history, traditions and journey of the UAE, through a vast collection of cultural artefacts, art and rare manuscripts.

In 2019, the Power of Words sculptures by Emirati artist Mattar bin Lahej were unveiled. The series of three sculptures were inspired by the words of Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father. A golden one is located off the Great Hall, while a second two silver sculptures are located in the palace’s garden.

Click though for photos of the Power of Words sculptures here:

Qasr Al Watan is home to 'Power of Words', a series of three sculptures by Emirati artist Mattar bin Lahej based on quotes by Sheikh Zayed. All images courtesy Qasr Al Watan
The golden sculpture, located inside the palace, weighs six tonnes.
Bin Lahej used three different quotes by Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father, to create each of the works.
The calligraphic sculpture is based on the quote: 'Wealth is not money or oil; wealth lies in people and it is worthless if not dedicated to serve the people.'
The remaining two sculptures weigh four tonnes each and are located in the palace garden.
Bin Lahej is also the artist behind the facade of Dubai's Museum of the Future, which bears calligraphic designs similar to the palace sculptures.

Qasr Al Watan is home to ‘Power of Words’, a series of three sculptures by Emirati artist Mattar bin Lahej based on quotes by Sheikh Zayed. All images courtesy Qasr Al Watan

Tours of Qasr Al Watan

To enhance the visitor experience at Abu Dhabi’s Qasr Al Watan, self-guided tours were made available in English, Arabic, German, Russian and Chinese in March last year.

Visitors can rent a multimedia guide and headset at the palace’s ticketing booth, and then take it with them as they navigate the site. They will be able to listen to pre-recorded audio clips in their language of choice as they are taken on an interactive cultural journey.

Entry requirements for Qasr Al Watan

To visit Qasr Al Watan, guests withAl Hosn app will need to provide proof of their full vaccination and a green status on the app.

Any guests without Al Hosn app can enter by providing proof of vaccination, as well as a negative PCR result from a test taken within the past 14 days.

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