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Also known as the 'white fort' (erroneously so, it was never white until the 1976–1983 renovations when it acquired a bright white painted concrete render) or 'old fort', it started out as a round watchtower defending the only freshwater well on Abu Dhabi island in ca. 1761. This tower was later expanded to a small fort in ca. 1793, at which point it became the permanent residence of the ruling sheikh. A major extension to its current shape took place in the late 1930s, aided by revenues received for granting the first oil license in Abu Dhabi. It remained the royal palace (hence the name Qasr al-Hosn, meaning palace-fort) and seat of government until 1966. Plans have been drafted in 2007 to redevelop the site and open it up to the public.

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