Tradition Meets Modern at Qasr Al Hosn Festival

Three fishermen mending their nets at the Qasr Al Hosn Festival

It was like traveling back in time. NYU Abu Dhabi students enrolled in all levels of Arabic, from Elementary 101 to Intermediate 202, visited the Qasr Al Hosn Festival as part of their experiential learning experience.

The festival, inspired by Abu Dhabi's traditional and modern heritage, was held February 11-21. 

Programs and activities were divided into four family-friendly zones: desert, oasis, marine, and Abu Dhabi Island. Each area highlighted different elements fundamental to Abu Dhabi’s heritage and offered a deeper understanding of Emirati history.

One particular highlight was an architectural showcase developed by NYUAD J-Term students, including Finn Murray-Jones, a freshman.

"This project helped me develop a greater connection to Abu Dhabi and explore parts of the city I didn't know much about before," he said. "I also gained a much better understanding of the region's history and how things have changed over the last century."

Presenting their work at the Qasr Al Hosn Festival was a great experience, Finn said, because they were able to "meet students from other academic programs...and hopefully spark public interest in Abu Dhabi's modern heritage and rich history."

In the crowd, many people clad in black abayas and white kandooras snapped photos with iPhones, a visual symbol of how Emirati tradition and modern ways of life are becoming intermingled.

Another key highlight was the ‘Lest We Forget’ exhibition; a seminal archive of architectural and urban development in the UAE over the past century. It is seen as a pioneering educational and creative initiative that supports conservation of Emirati modern heritage.