x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Abu Dhabi's tower of strength with a long history

Time Frame is a series that opens a window into the nation's past. Each week it features an image from the archives of both prominent institutions and private collections. Today: the Round Tower at the Qasr al Hosn.

Al Hosn watch tower, Abu Dhabi.
Al Hosn watch tower, Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabians will recognise the building known as both the White Fort and Qasr al Hosn (the Ruler's Fort). It stands in the opposite corner to the Cultural Foundation, in the block formed by Hamdan and Sheikh Zayed the 1st streets and 22nd Street and Airport Road.

The round watchtower predates the fort by about three decades. The tower was built in 1761 to defend the only freshwater well on the island of Abu Dhabi.

The fort was then built around it and, in 1793, the fort became the permanent residence of the ruling family. Further expansions were made in the late 1930s but it was only painted white in the 1970s.

For about 175 years from the time it became his residence, the Ruler used Qasr al Hosn as his meeting place. All important meetings were held in the fort until 1966, the year Sheikh Zayed became Ruler. Sheikh Zayed moved to Al Manhal Palace, just a block away.

The Ruler of Abu Dhabi now resides at Qasr al Bahar.

Time Frame is a series that opens a window into the nation's past. Each week it features an image from the archives of both prominent institutions and private collections. Readers are invited to make contributions to yourpics@thenational.ae