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    Abu Dhabi's Art Centres

    Updated: Mar 11

    There’s a world of programming on offer in the capital’s art institutions. Here are Yalla’s top picks for viewers and makers alike


    QASR AL HOSN is the oldest and most significant building in Abu Dhabi. This area could have been made a sterile homage to the nation’s past, but instead, it is infused with life and vibrancy so visitors can experience history in real time. Live and breathe UAE art and culture on one heaving city block. Here’s your guide to Qasr Al Hosn.

    Qasr Al Hosn is the oldest stone structure in the city of Abu Dhabi with its coral and sea stone watchtower used to defend the city’s settlement and the only freshwater well on Abu Dhabi island. In 1793, the tower was later enlarged into a small fort HH Sheikh Shakhbut bin Dhiyab Al Nahyan and became the permanent residence of the ruler. Qasr Al Hosn was transformed into a museum in 2018 following more than eleven years of conservation and restoration work.

    Explore where the past meets the present at Qasr Al Hosn, walking through monuments from the past that are surrounded by architectural feats of the future. No visit to Abu Dhabi is complete without a visit to the heart of the city.

    For more information, please visit

    TO VIEW:

    QASR AL HOSN encapsulates the development of Abu Dhabi from a settlement reliant on fishing and pearling in the 18th century, to a modern, global metropolis, with displays of artefacts and archival materials dating back to as far as 6000 BC. Be sure to check out daily displays and performances of traditional falconry, marine crafts, music, and dancing.

    TO TRY:

    THE HOUSE OF ARTISANS is a learning space dedicated to handicrafts that might have become lost arts were it not for the city’s mandate to keep the crafts alive, well, and enacted daily by the carriers of these traditions. Visitors can look as weavers weave traditional palm frond mats, early baristas brew the nation’s traditional cup of coffee: gahwa, and much



    THE CULTURAL FOUNDATION, founded in 1981, was a hub of creativity and launched the careers of many an Emirati artist. The centre for art and learning was closed in 2009 as part of extensive renovations to the Al Hosn site. The Foundation now hosts the Abu Dhabi Children’s Library, a 900-seat theatre, and workshops for calligraphy, art, research, exhibitions, and cultural learning and is expected to again become a hub for art and culture, adding to the city’s other cultural offerings such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Manarat Al Saadiyat.


    The Abu Dhabi Children’s Library is a place to connect and exchange, learn, and create. Our education experts strive to create a unique and innovative environment that fosters creativity, literacy and life-long learning. We have a rich print and digital collection in a number of languages. The Abu Dhabi Children’s Library runs over 150 programmes per month, including story times, writing workshops, robotics, puppet theatre! Open 7 days a week.

    For more information, please visit

    Here are Yalla’s top picks:

    • The Montessori Club: weekly activities based on Montessori principles.

    • In Pictures & in Words: a multidisciplinary exploration of what authors and writers do.

    • Arabic Puppet Theatre: a workshop where children make puppets and script a

    puppet show.

    • Laser Cutting and Mad Scientist workshops

    • March is Reading Month so there will be special activities and events throughout

    the month.


    The Children’s Art Centre located in the Cultural Foundation welcomes young artists (aged 5 – 14) to participate in courses in arts, crafts, and music on a monthly basis. Workshops include painting, drawing, paper arts, ceramics, piano and more. Open 7 days a week.

    For more information, please visit or call 02 657 6367


    Also located in the Cultural Foundation, Al Marsam Al Hor is the oldest arts education space in Abu Dhabi. It offers a yearround programme of art classes for teens (ages 15+) and adults of all skill levels. Courses include drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, jewellery making, and more. Open Sat–Thu (closed Fri).

    For more information, please visit or call 02 697 6825


    The internationally acclaimed Louvre Abu Dhabi offers a season of living chivalry from around the world and films by the legendary Charlie Chaplin

    TO VIEW:


    February 19, 2020 – May 30, 2020

    The exhibition explores a unique and extraordinary link, where furusiyya in the East meets Chivalry in the West, and how these distinct practices of combat and knightly values led to a specific social class and culture in the Islamic East and largely Christian West. Tales of knightly culture have been told throughout history—of brave heroes fighting for their sovereignty, their religion, and their honour; stories of war, loss, camaraderie, and courtly love are told through 130 rare artworks, most of them seen in the region for the first time.


    April 15, 2020 – July 11, 2020

    Discover the connection between the great Charlie Chaplin films and the artistic creations of avant-garde artists of his time, including Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger, and František Kupka—artists at the centre of modern art movements such as Constructivism, Surrealism, and Dadaism. Featuring around 100 paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, archives, and film scenes, the exhibition reveals the relationship between Chaplin’s work and those of his contemporaries who constantly addressed—each in their own way, the rapidly changing world of the first half of the twentieth century.

    As a tribute to Charlie Chaplin, Yoann Bourgeois and his short, poetic mime art performances will revisit concepts of time, the absurd, and contemplation.

    To learn more about the exhibitions and the Louvre Abu Dhabi, visit


    Set in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s cultural hub of Saadiyat Island, MANARAT AL SAADIYAT (MAS) invites visitors to be inspired and explore a diverse range of artistic expressions. Discover exhibitions, exchange ideas, attend talks and immerse yourself in art workshops.


    A variety of tours have been created for the exhibitions at Manarat Al Saadiyat, designed for different types of audiences, including families, children and adults with activities to connect with culture and art at MAS.

    ART OBSERVATION TOURS for adults are scheduled daily at 12:30pm & 4:30pm and last 45 min in both English & Arabic.

    THINK LIKE AN ARTIST TOURS for kids and families are available daily at 10:30am & 2:30pm and last 45 minutes in both English & Arabic.


    ART STUDIO at Manarat Al Saadiyat is a multi-disciplinary arts space designed to bring hands-on arts education programmes, art classes, drop-in sessions, bespoke events and outreach initiatives to students, adults, children and families in the Emirate. Art Studio has dedicated spaces for all ages to work both collaboratively and individually. Fully equipped studios for ongoing classes, an open plan collaborative space for adults and interactive features make Art Studio the perfect place for creating art. Some of their 2020 programmes to watch out for: SPRING ART CAMP – a fun thematic programme during the spring break.

    CERAMICS & SCULPTURE STUDIO – experiment with clay and ceramic glazes.

    MAKER SPACE – includes wood and metal working.

    INTERACTIVE ARTISTS – a series of workshops that include action painting and body prints.

    Learn more at

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