The Founder’s memorial of Sheikh Zayed is located on the corner of the Corniche and Marina Breakwater Road. The memorial is a free public space to enter but there is a swish looking visitors center on the site, join one of the 30 minute free tours if you want to find out more about the memorial. There is also a film room where you can sit and watch a six-minute clip about the concept behind the memorial and the making of the project which is totally worth it.
Inside the center, there is also an enormous ‘interpretive wall’, a multi-media wall where you can see various images of Sheikh Zayed and events from his life portrayed over slightly atmospheric and thought-provoking flowing sands.
When walking around on ground level there are numerous other things to look out for with information about various plant life and the significance for the country explained. There is also a heritage garden which is very interesting to learn about plants such as the Toothbrush Tree so-named because you guessed it, its twigs were historically used for teeth brushing due to their antiseptic properties.
The falaj water channels that run through the space are also important for their place in history, but not only that but also because of Sheikh Zayed’s commitment to turn the Emirate green. Though of course, the real star of the show (‘scuse the pun) is the centerpiece, known as The Constellation.
The Constellation is a vast artwork designed by artist Ralph Helmick and is made up of thousands of geometric shapes hung by over 1000 cables. At night, these geometric shapes bright up and form the face of Sheikh Zayed. You can just about make it out during the daytime if you know what you’re looking for, but of course, it is clearer to see at night.
The Founder’s Memorial is a beautiful addition to the Abu Dhabi, and despite being on the corner of two very busy roads, the site itself is quite calm and somehow feels very peaceful. It is a lovely area for a wander and a spot of thoughtful reflection. It really is quite amazing how much this country has achieved since 1971, and I personally think it is hard not to be impressed by the style and elegance of this new cultural attraction.