Located on the western edge of Al Ain Oasis, the Palace of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was built in 1937. It was converted into a museum in 1998 and opened to the public in 2001. The original structure comprised a private residence for the ruler and his family within a complex of courtyards.
The architectural design and construction of Al Ain Palace is typical of historical buildings of the UAE. It features the characteristic ventilation structures that are designed to keep the buildings cool in the summer.
Locally sourced and environmentally friendly building materials were used, including clay, adobe and plaster stones, as well as palm tree elements for roofing rooms, ceilings, doors and windows. The use of teak was later introduced in the renovation of the buildings.
THE PALACE SECTIONS
The palace’s distinctive internal gate is decorated with verses from the Holy Qur’an, and leads to private rooms for guests and official delegations. This section of the palace also features rooms dedicated to meeting official councils to issue directives on the public services in the Eastern region of Abu Dhabi.
Reception rooms for international delegations reflect the renowned hospitality that Sheikh Zayed and his family were known for. Above the main entrance of the palace is an upper majlis called Albarzah, which received important guests and provided shade during hot weather. The outdoor yard includes the coffee room, from which Arabic coffee was distributed throughout the palace.
A special section for Sheikh Zayed, and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi is composed of two floors; the ground floor was used to host women by HH Sheikha Fatima, and the upper floor was dedicated to Sheikh Zayed and his family.
The palace also includes a room in which Sheikh Zayed’s sons used to study, which still contains the original tables and black board. Another room was devoted to teaching the residents of the palace the Holy Qur’an and Hadith that comprises of the teaching and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).).
The 1998 renovation saw the addition of two new buildings, one of which houses the administration and displays gifts dedicated to the museum from the local community, while the other presents a family tree of the Al Nahyan family, offering visitors the opportunity to learn about the country’s ruling family and lineage. The design of the new buildings adopts elements of local architecture, reflecting traditional design tastes, including towers added to the main entrance of the palace that are similar to Al Jahili Fort. The palace interior was renovated to reflect traditional designs, and the furniture is typical of the era it was built in.
Paying homage to the heritage of Sheikh Zayed, the tent that he used to host guests during the winter has been erected in the palace. The tent simulates the way of life that Sheikh Zayed was proud of, and allows visitors to learn about the Bedouin heritage, history and renowned Arabic hospitality.
In the courtyard of the internal palace is a Land Rover, similar to the cars that Sheikh Zayed used during his visits to check on the conditions of the communities in the region.