Situated on a 1600-square-metre site on the Breakwater, near Marina Mall and overlooking the Corniche, this heritage village is run by Emirates Heritage Club. Here you can journey to the past and experience traditional life in Abu Dhabi before oil revenues altered the landscape, economically and socially. Bedouin tents, palm-frond houses ('arish), stone houses from the mountains,, old fishing villages and traditional souqs help to recreate life as it was. Given its location along the seafront, maritime traditions are a special feature. A shop sells local crafts.
Qasr al-Hosn, the White Fort or Old Fort, is the oldest building in Abu Dhabi. The original structure was constructed in 1793 as the official residence of Abu Dhabi’s rulers from the Bani Yas tribe, the Al Nahyan family. Today, two sections are clearly distinguishable – the ancient fort, dating back to the time of Sheikh Saeed bin Tahnoon who ruled from 1845–1855, and a new section added in 1936 by Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan, brother of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Major renovations took place in 1983 and the whole historic Qasr Al Hosn Cultural Quarter is currently undergoing redevelopment.
A permanent exhibition at the Qasr al Hosn Centre tells the story of Abu Dhabi and its people through its most iconic building.
Each year a very well-attended festival in the grounds of the fort vividly brings to life the customs, traditions, food, poetry, music and practices of the past.
Women's Handicraft Centre
The centre is run by Abu Dhabi Women's Association as a forum for local women to display their wares from perfumed oils to local clothing, woven mats and household goods, as well as pottery. Some of the items are for sale. A kitchen area serves typical Gulf cuisine.
Manarat Al Saadiyat
Abu Dhabi is in the process of building a series of world-class museums on Saadiyat Island, about 10 minutes from the centre of the city. The Louvre Abu Dhabi, which is scheduled to open in late 2015, will be a universal fine arts museum, exhibiting artworks and objects of historical, cultural and sociological significance – from prehistory to the contemporary. The Zayed National Museum, scheduled for completion in 2016, will bring to life the UAE's rich history and will also serve as a memorial to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first President of the United Arab Emirates. When it opens in 2017, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will feature contemporary art from across the globe.
In the meantime, a temporary exhibition space on Saadiyat Island, Manarat Al Saadiyat ('a place of enlightenment' in Arabic) hosts an imaginative series of cultural programmes dedicated to developing art appreciation and awareness, at the same time revealing loans and acquisitions that will eventually form the core of the new museums. Through a variety of talks, performances and workshops, the collections are having their stories told in a vibrant and interactive way.