Attractions of Ethnic Art and Cultural Centres in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, the beautiful capital of United Arab Emirates is one of the most popular tourist hubs in the world. Countless people visit this alluring city to spend memorable days of holidays here. This busy city is well known for its tourism and art and culture.  It attracts people from all around the world with its rich traditional heritage. Patrons from all over the globe visit Abu Dhabi to know about the rich history of this place. The city has secured a global place in the tourism industry and has successfully won million hearts. The governing body of Abu Dhabi has made all efforts to make the country a top cultural destination.

This article is for all those Abu Dhabi holidays aspires who are eager to know about the art and culture of this destination. It is always a wise move to perform a quick homework about a place before visiting the place itself. If you develop a habit of researching about a place previously, the tour will be more interesting for you. Interestingly, the word ‘art’ is derived from a Latin word ‘Ars’ that means ‘arrangement’. Art is basically an expression of creativity or imagination, whereas, culture means the elements that describe the nature of a particular people’s way of life. The art is a vast subdivision of culture. Now, let’s us take you through the art and culture of Abu Dhabi. The capital has a diverse cultural history. This is majorly because of the settlement of various tribal groups from pre-historic age. This settlement provides a rich heritage of customs and traditions. Abu Dhabi being a sophisticated and modern city is renowned for its art and cultural centres.

The famous art and cultural centres of Abu Dhabi are as follows-

Manarat AlSaadiyat

Manarat Al Saadiyat

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Manarat AlSaadiyat is translated from Arabic which means ‘a place that lights up’. It is located in the Saadiyat Cultural District on the Saadiyat Island. The island is devoted to art and culture. The museum occupies a space of 15400 sq. metres. This splendid museum offers an all-new Art Studio. It houses a Photography Studio, an atrium, a space dedicated to cultural events, a garden area, a 250 -seated auditorium, an outdoor terrace area. It has a wonderful Larte restaurant for the relaxation of the public. It showcases the famous collections from international artists to culturally rich exhibits from local artists. The grand museum also has a boutique retail store which offers an opulent collection of products and books which exhibit Abu Dhabi Art. Besides this, Manarat AlSaadiyat will include three museums-

  1. Louvre Abu Dhabi– Louvre is an art and civilisation museum. The First Universal Museum was established on 8th November 2017. It was a part of a 30-year agreement between Abu Dhabi and the French Government. This well-known museum occupies a space of 24000 sq. metres in size. The largest art museum in the Arabian Peninsula has galleries with the size of 8000 sq. metres. The final cost is expected to be 60 Million Euros. The architect for this dome-shaped museum is none other than world famous Jean Nouvel. There is an opulent collection of artworks, artefacts, and loans from France’s top museums. In addition to this, there will be exhibitions, a Children’s Museum, a café and a restaurant for the relaxation of the public. There is a boutique gift shop for buying souvenirs to way back home.

The entry ticket to this grand museum will be 60 AED for every adult visiting here. However, a discounted price of 30 AED is offered to people aged between 13 to 22 years, UAE School, college teachers and university faculty members. This reduced rate is also offered to UAE military. There is no entry fee for Children under 13 years of age, Louvre Art Club members, Journalists, handicapped visitors having one companion and ICOM/ICCROM/ICOMOS valid members.

  1. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi– It is a planned museum. It is a result of the agreement signed by the United Arab Emirates and Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York City. The agreement stated to build a 30000 sq. metres museum on the Saadiyat Island. The design of the museum is done by none other than the famous architect, Frank Gehery. The construction work already started in 2011. This beautiful museum will reflect the Islamic and the middle-eastern culture. Global art dated back from the 1960s to the present date will be on display in this museum.
  2. Zayed National Museum– Zayed National Museum was designed to serve as a memorial to the late Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding president of UAE. He was the father figure of the United Arab Emirates. The museum will reflect the history, culture and economic transformation of the Emirates. Designed by Foster and partners, the museum is planned to be the centrepiece of the Saadiyat Island Cultural District. There will be 5 solar thermal towers. These towers will act as chimneys to draw cool air through the building. One of another amazing feature of this towers is that their shape resembles the falcon wings. This was done to show respect for His Highness, Sheikh Zayed’s love for falconry. The construction work of the museum is still in progress. Once completed, the visitors will be spell bounded to see the culture and history of United Arab Emirates. The visitors will also embark on a journey about the story of the father of UAE, Sheikh Zayed.

Manarat AlSaadiyat is opened from 9 AM to 8 PM. However, the timings are likely to change during the Ramadan months.

Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre (PAC)


It is one of the five major cultural institutions on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi. The combined seating capacity for this house is 6300. It includes five theatres- concert hall, drama theatre, opera house, a music hall and a flexible theatre.

Aljewa for Culture and Media

This centre in Abu Dhabi opened its doors to the public in 2011. It is located in Shakboot city, Abu Dhabi. This centre is basically a private organisation which is concerned with culture and arts. This group aims to encourage the concepts of knowledge and fine arts. This includes an exhibition of art and information services, photography, publishing books, organising cultural and artistic workshops and many other activities. So, in other words, this group invests in all sectors of media, arts, culture and publishing industry in UAE.

The Arts Centre at NYU Abu Dhabi

This centre acts as a source of inspiration at the university where education, community, and performance come together. This arts centre enhances the cultural life of both- the university campus and Abu Dhabi. This is a multi-venue complex. The complex was designed by world-renowned Rafael Vinoly, while the acoustics were designed by Shen Milsom and Wike. The Arts Centre introduces famous professional artists from all over the world, besides faculty, students, and community production. The Arts Centres have gorgeous new spaces-

  1. Red Theatre– Probably, the largest venue of the Arts Centre with a seating capacity of 700 people. It occupies an area of 6000 sq. ft. It is suitable for film, music, theatre or dance. This theatre is equipped with the world class sound system.
  2. Black Box– This flexible space has 275 seating capacity. It has a wide range of configurations for theatre, music, dance and multi-disciplinary performances.
  3. Blue Hall– It is perfect for small-scale dance performance, reading, concerts and more. The seating capacity of this hall is 150.
  4. Screening Room– This room is perfect for artist talks, film screening, and panel discussions. With a seating capacity of 60 people, this room is well equipped with Dolby Digital projection and sound.
  5. Lobby– This 1100 sq. ft. area is available for pre and post-performance gatherings.
  6. Project Space– This space is dedicated to NYUAD community projects. It is managed by the museum trained staff of the Art Gallery. It gives priority to academic and community exhibitions like Annual Capstone Festival, semester end exhibition of student’s works and faculty-curated exhibitions.

The inaugural session of this Arts Centre outpaced all possible expectations of the people.

Abu Dhabi Art Hub

It is the first artist community in the United Arab Emirates. This art hub follows a simple principle “Live, Create and Exhibit”. It uses a combination of ideas picked from all over the world. It serves as a platform for interaction and crosses cultural artistic exchanges between national, regional as well as international artists.

Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation

It is a non-profit seeking organisation. This art and cultural centre was founded by H.E. Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo in 1996. The ADMAF was recognised by His Highness President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2006. It was opened with some objectives in mind. They are as follows-

  1. Music and art are for all and it is embedded in the heart of the people.
  2. To emancipate the original artistic expression in the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East.
  3. To preserve the traditional culture and heritage of Abu Dhabi.
  4. To empower music and art in cross-cultural understanding.

ADMAF seeks to nurture the arts, education, creativity, and culture for social well-being.

UAE Pavilion

Occupying an assembly area of 3737 sq. metres the UAE Pavilion has an exhibition space and performance hall. It has the capacity to accommodate 2669 persons. This award-winning building is designed by none other than the world-famous Foster and Partners for 2010 Shanghai Expo.  It made its debut by hosting Abu Dhabi contemporary art fair. Here, the 7 sand dunes represent the seven emirates of UAE. About 2 million visitors visited this place every year, making it a distinctive venue for art and culture.

Women’s Handicraft Centre

This handicraft centre is run by Abu Dhabi Women’s Association. It is a small museum which showcases local artists’ handiwork. Workshops are located near the museum. Here, female artists display handmade souvenirs, Arabian oils, ethnic costumes, silver thread needlework and many other items. The shoes should be removed before entering these workshops. You can get some henna done on your hand as souvenirs. Visitors can have a live demonstration of how the handicrafts are made. However, you need a permission for photography. All displayed items are on sale in the on-site shop.

Ginger Dance and Arts

This is a newly established dance and arts centre. It is located in the heart of Abu Dhabi. This centre is all about dance and fitness for adults and kids, photography services and exhibitions, arts and vocals. The main motive of this centre is to share love and passion through which we live and breathe. This centre is passionate about artistic, self-expression and self-discovery.

Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation

This cultural foundation was established in 1981 as a centre of art and learning. It is located in the middle of downtown Abu Dhabi, UAE, off Khalifa Street. It is situated next to the White Fort, also known as Qasr al-Hosn Palace. The cultural foundation is operated by Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage. Previously, this authority was a statutory body in UAE. In 2012, it was merged into Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority. The cultural foundation hosts a variety of events such as lectures, concerts, art exhibits, movies, art workshop classes and many more.

India Social and Cultural Centre (ISC)

It is the leading socio-cultural organisation. It is the top body of the registered Indian Associations in Abu Dhabi. ISC has been in existence since 1967, with the help of late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the father of UAE. It has been the community hub for helpless Indians in distress. ISC was established to provide support and to encourage the socio-cultural activities of Indians residing in Abu Dhabi. 

Centre of Original Iranian Carpets (COIC)

It is one of the renowned family-owned business house in the field of Iranian Carpets. As the name suggests, it deals with a variety of rugs and carpets. For over 90 years COIC has been serving the clients ranging from royal families to everyday fanatic. Today, numerous people visit this gallery to experience the rich quality of their unique collection.

Miraj Islamic Art Gallery

This art gallery is managed by CIE group which is concerned about heritage, history, and glory of Islam. The unique and rare works of art are on display in this gallery. It includes marble pieces, Arabic calligraphy engraved vases, silk textiles, jewellery, miniature paintings and many more. These works are of high value in the art world.

Al Qattara Arts Centre

The Al Qattara Arts Centre is located on the Al Ain Oasis which is a major component of Abu Dhabi’s Heritage. This arts centre opened its door to the public in 2011. It provides a modern and stimulating environment to the cultural and artistic programmes. It encourages the local Emiratis to participate in a variety of artistic disciplines ranging from traditional Arabic calligraphy to contemporary dance. Besides, the visitors’ reception area, gallery, and library the centre also include an exhibition hall, fully-equipped pottery studio, a spacious calligraphy studio, and a digital room for photography and computer classes. There is also café for the visitors to relax.

Warehouse 421

It is located in Abu Dhabi’s port area of Mina Zayed. This cultural destination and exhibition space were launched in 2015. As the name suggests, the industrial warehouses have been transformed to become a platform for artistic expression and understanding. This cultural destination is supported by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation. The main purpose of this Warehouse 421 is to celebrate design and creativity, art and culture, performance and music from artists and designers of UAE and all over the world. It is opened 6 days, a week from 10 AM to 8 PM, Monday being a holiday.

Gallery One

It was founded in 2005 by Gregg and Jane Sedgwick. From a small 350 sq. ft. the area to the international group and online portal, it has become the largest retailer of arts and culturally based products in UAE. Even the greetings cards and packaging boxes are special for their artistic value. It is the best-loved gallery store.

Some of the other renowned art and cultural centres of Abu Dhabi are Abu Dhabi Theatre, Beenas, L’atelier Des Arts and many others. These art and cultural centres of Abu Dhabi helped to flourish the tourism sector of the capital. Abu Dhabi will be the next epicentre of art and culture.

You will be amazed to see the Emirate traditional culture and art. Our local tour guide will assist you throughout the entire tour to the art and cultural centres of Abu Dhabi. You will be picked up from the hotel in our air-conditioned cars. Tourist satisfaction is our prime motto. Our experienced guides are well educated about the cultural, historical and any sort of information about these centres. To provide personal attention to the tourists we organise the tours in small groups. After exploring for the entire day, you will be dropped off at your hotel to relax and prepare for the next day.

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