Abu Dhabi will open its new cultural destination, Al Hosn on December 7, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has announced.
Al Hosn, located in downtown Abu Dhabi, is the city’s original urban block and will comprise four components: the historic Qasr Al Hosn Fort, the Cultural Foundation, the National Consultative Council building, and the House of Artisans.
The site’s masterplan is divided diagonally into two areas – on one side is the historic area around Qasr Al Hosn which re-establishes the original setting of a solitary building on a sand plain, with a coastal desert landscape. On the other side is a modern heritage area around the Cultural Foundation, with an urban city grid layout.
Qasr Al Hosn is the oldest heritage site in Abu Dhabi city and features two buildings: The Inner Fort dating back to around 1795 and the Outer Palace, which was built in the 1940s. Over the past two centuries, it has been home to the ruling family, the seat of government, the consultative council and the national archives.
Following several years of conservation works, Qasr Al Hosn has now been turned into a museum that traces the city’s development from a settlement reliant on fishing and pearling in the 18th century, to a modern metropolis.
Public programming in the Qasr Al Hosn Fort area will include specialist tours such as archaeology, and architectural tours; re-enactments of aspects of daily life and rituals at the fort; a Majlis programme that will introduce the fort’s visitors to the history and significance of the majlis; and activities for children and youth.
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman, DCT Abu Dhabi said: “Qasr Al Hosn retraces the history of the city of Abu Dhabi, our very first building. It stands as a constant in our evolving city.”
Meanwhile the newly renovated premises of the Cultural Foundation will host an open gallery for visual arts, indoor and outdoor exhibition spaces, a 900-seat theatre and outdoor amphitheatre, learning and workshop facilities, a children’s library, and food and beverage areas.
Founded by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1981, Cultural Foundation was the region’s first dedicated multipurpose non-profit cultural centre, created with a mandate to foster all forms of intellectual and creative activity.
Cultural Foundation will re-open in phases with the Visual Arts Centre, which will feature exhibition halls and art studios, opening on December 7. The two remaining components – a theatre and the children’s library – will open in 2019, a statement said.
During the opening, the Visual Arts Centre will present an exhibition which will focus on the building’s history as an inspiration for local artists.
The House of Artisans will serve as a focal point for the promotion and preservation of the UAE’s heritage, with a focus on weaving, palm braiding, and embroidery.
Saif Saeed Ghobash, undersecretary, DCT Abu Dhabi said: “Al Hosn will be a year-round destination open to the wider community including nationals wishing to know more about their heritage, art-lovers and intellectuals exchanging ideas and engaging in the active cultural scene.”