Visitor AttractionsGovernance, knowledge, and craftsmanship

Qasr Al Watan - The Presidential Palace

Abu Dhabi, UAE
Surface area
95 acres / 380 000 m²
Completion date
Courtesy of Qasr Al Watan

Qasr Al Watan is more than a palace—it is a testament to the people and leaders of the United Arab Emirates, an invitation to discover Emirati heritage in an inspiring contemporary setting.

GSM Project was mandated by MIRAL to design a flexible, innovative, and media-rich visitor journey for the Presidential Palace around the themes of governance, knowledge, and craftsmanship.

Courtesy of Qasr Al Watan
A Palace for a nation

Qasr Al Watan is an impressive governmental complex housing the formal offices of the President, Vice President, and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. The story of the Palace echoes that of the United Arab Emirates, a forward-looking nation that has grown out of Arabic traditions rooted in ancient civilizations. The Palace opened its doors to the public in 2019.

Courtesy of Qasr Al Watan
A contemporary, multifaceted design

To create a compelling visitor experience, our team developed a contemporary design framework inspired by geometric shapes and kaleidoscopic patterns. Encompassing everything from wayfinding to media production, the experience design perfectly complements the Palace architecture, revealing and reflecting craftsmanship and artistry, as well as key aspects of Emirati governance.

Playing with perspectives

To spark visitors’ curiosity and deepen their appreciation of the region’s architectural and artistic legacy, we imagined four impressive immersive installations: 6-metre mirrored cubes installed in each corner of the Great Hall.

On entering the dark, quiet interiors, visitors discover the Palace from surprising and mesmerizing optical games. One of the cubes contains a cone offering a unique view of the magnificent Palace dome; in another, infinite mirrors reflect the myriad patterns on the marble floor, and the last two play with periscopic effects and dichroic glasses.

Courtesy of Qasr Al Watan
Designed to disappear… and reappear

One of our team’s main design challenges was to create exhibition galleries that could be dismantled within 24 hours! Since the Palace chambers are a primarily a place of work, it was imperative that the visitor experience not interfere with this function. GSM’s solution was to develop elevated modular platforms similar to a theatre stage. Not only do the structures protect the Palace furnishings; they can be taken down and put back at short notice.

Courtesy of Qasr Al Watan
A historical and political journey

The exhibition galleries include the Presidential Gifts Room, a vibrant showcase of cultural exchange and international diplomacy; the House of Knowledge, featuring the collection of valuable artifacts and manuscripts; and the Majlis, for which our team developed an engaging multimedia show telling the story of this political institution. Visitors come away with a better understanding of the political system of the United Arab Emirates, as well as the cultural influence of the Islamic world.

Courtesy of Qasr Al Watan
Courtesy of Qasr Al Watan
Enhanced storytelling

With so much content and such a wide target audience, our team felt it was necessary to take storytelling to the next level. With the help of professional voice actors, multiple translators, and a top-notch technical team, we created an audio guide in several languages to enhance the visitor experience.

Courtesy of Qasr Al Watan
The Palace at night

Last but not least, GSM Project designed and produced, in close collaboration with the UK firm 59 Productions, an evening light and sound show projected onto the Palace façade. A Palace in Motion is one of the largest permanent 3D projection mapping shows in the world. Created with state-of-the-art technologies, the 10-minute show has become an attraction in itself. Telling the story of the nation and Palace, it is a tribute to human ingenuity and the grand legacy of Arab and Islamic architecture.

Courtesy of Qasr Al Watan
Courtesy of Qasr Al Watan


GSM Project was appointed to develop and lead the visitor experience’s conceptual content and design for the Presidential Palace, Qasr Al Watan, overseeing the work of multiple consultants, production firms and fabricators based in the Middle-East, Europe and North America.

Built around the themes of governance, knowledge, and craftsmanship, the multifaceted visitor experience is designed to appeal to a wide audience of all ages, Emiratis and tourists alike. Qasr Al Watan is today one of the 10 most-visited palaces in the world, welcoming 3 million visitors a year !