Page update - Oct 12, 2022
The Sheikh Zayed Memorial is not the top attraction in Abu Dhabi, but it is very interesting and free of charge. In addition, the memorial is close to other more popular attractions, so you don't need to go there on purpose.
By the state of October 2022, the Sheikh Zayed Memorial is open to the public. In the past 2021 tourists had to book their visit through the official website (a covid security measure), but now it is not needed. Pre-registration is now only recommended, but not required. The guided tours must be booked by mail at email@example.com
This is one of the UAE's newest attractions. The memorial was opened in 2018 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan.
Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan was the Emir of Abu Dhabi from 1966 to 2004. Founder and permanent President of the UAE from 1971 to 2004.
The UAE citizens call him the "father of the nation". Undoubtedly, he is a ruler of great talent who was able to manage the oil money very wisely and build a modern and prosperous state on it.
Read more in our review "Sheikh Zayed".
The memory about Sheikh Zayed is commemorated first and foremost in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and the mosque contains his tomb in a small mausoleum just north of the main building. The second important site is the memorial, which we will talk about on this page.
The memorial is a park of about 650x650 feet (200x200 meters). This park is called "The Sanctuary Garden".
"The Constellation" structure is in the center. It is a huge concrete frame 100 feet (30 meters) high, inside which 1,110 strings are stretched vertically, on which 1,327 reflecting elements are fixed. These elements form a three-dimensional portrait of Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan.
The author of this portrait is the American artist Ralph Helmick. The elements are made in the form of regular polyhedrons, scientifically called "Platonic bodies". These are: tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, icosahedron.
The portrait looks best after sunset, when they turn on the backlight.
But apart from "The Constellation", there is a lot to see there as well. There are symbolic trees planted in the park. Most of all there are prosopis trees, which is a symbol of the UAE. Also there are main desert plants, which symbolize the continuous connection of Sheikh Zayed and the modern Arab Emirates with the desert.
In front of "The Constellation", there is a channel in which water is constantly flowing. It is the symbol of the Arab irrigation system called Falaj. And this symbol shows the inseparable link between the modern Arab Emirates and the traditional Arab way of life.
North of the park is an information center, where you can sign up for a tour, watch a film about Sheikh Zayed, view photos on interactive screens, and read the life story and famous quotes of the "father of the nation".
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The tours are conducted from 10am to 10pm (10-00 to 22-00). Duration of the tour is 30 minutes. Free of charge. Languages are Arabic and English.
Usually you do not need to sign up for a tour, you can just come to the information center and join the next group. However, sometimes schoolchildren groups or large organized groups of tourists are coming, and then you can not get on a tour in this case.
If you want to go on a tour in the exact time, then book the place in advance, write to e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The memorial is located at the intersection of Corniche and Al Marsa Streets. It is in the center of the tourist area in the northwest of Abu Dhabi city. See the area map with the relative location of the attractions near, click on the map to enlarge to full screen.
West of the memorial is the famous chic Emirates Palace Hotel. To the north are Al Qasir Island, Marina Mall, Heritage Village, and the UAE Flagpole. To the east are the beaches and the Corniche Waterfront. To the south are the Etihad skyscrapers and the Observation Deck at 300.
Tourists don't usually go to the Sheikh Zayed Memorial on purpose. They visit the area and see all the attractions together.
The easiest way is to take a cab. The cab cost 12-50 dirhams, depending on the location of the hotel. See the current exchange rates in our review "What is the money in Abu Dhabi and the UAE". See the cab fares in the review "Taxis in Abu Dhabi and the UAE".
It is cheaper to ride by bus, the ticket price is 2 dirhams. You need a Hafilat transport card, you can buy it from the driver (usually, but not always).
Buses pass nearby: 5, 7, 9, 11, 22, 26, 34, 63, 65, 67, 69, 71. Probably, one of them stops near your hotel. If you don't want to guess, just ask at the hotel reception. There was another route 20 that stopped nearby until 2021, but it's gone now.
An important point about the buses! All these buses run to Al Kasir Island (where the Marina Mall is). If you go there (to Al Qasir Island and Marina Mall), the bus will stop next to the Sheikh Zayed Memorial (the stop is called King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud). There is no stop on the way back (from Al Qaseer Island and Marina Mall).
Free of charge. All services at the memorial are free, including tours and film viewing.
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From 10am to 10pm (10-00 to 22-00).
Same hours on Fridays.
In the month of Ramadan: from 10am to 2pm and from 8pm to 1am (10-00 to 14-00 and 20-00 to 01-00).
Those are the typical hours for Ramadan. But remember, most UAE attractions set the Ramadan schedule manually each year. If you plan the visit at Ramadan then please visit the official web-site to re-check the schedule.
- There is no cafe or store at the memorial. Make sure you stock up on snacks and water in advance;
- There is free parking on the grounds of the memorial, north of the information center;
- There is a dress code, though not very strict. We talked about the dress code in the review "What tourists are not allowed to do in the UAE";
- Trying to climb the Constellation is strictly forbidden! This is a cultural heritage site of the UAE.
Have a great holiday in Abu Dhabi, and read our useful for tourists and interesting pages about the United Arab Emirates (see the list of the pages below).
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