I am more than ashamed to admit that the first time I heard of Abu Dhabi was in the movie Sex and the City 2. Which, honestly, was a pretty craptastic movie, but every basic white girl saw it because of our devotion to the series. I mean, who in real life turns down Aiden?! However, I digress.
The point is, the setting was the best part of that movie and in real life, Abu Dhabi definitely did not disappoint. If Dubai is the playground, the Vegas, the glitz and glamour, then Abu Dhabi is the Martha’s Vineyard, the Hamptons, the sophistication. Having been to both places now, I like them both, but for different reasons.
I was only there for a total of two days. It was a part of a birthday weekend for my friends and we basically had three priorities in mind: 1) Fizzy brunch. 2) The Grand Mosque. 3) The Lourve (it’s new).
Now, I have a lot to say about priorities 1 and 3, however, the majority of this post is focused on priority #2 as I was blown away. The highlight of my trip was The Grand Mosque. Now, the majority of this post is going to read like a picture book. I am going to try and include as many photos as possible without being redundant, because it’s the closest I can get to taking you with me. Now, let’s begin.
Think Jasmine’s Palace in Agrabah times five but minus the tiger. For you mathematicians out there that’s (Agrabah x 5) – Tiger = The Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Just driving up to it in a cab was impressive.
When you enter, there are two separate entrances for men and women. For women, unless you are already wearing an Abaaya, you are given one to wear in either blue or brown. It covers you head to toe, but does not have a veil (i.e. does not cover your face). You are permitted to walk around the building with shoes on, but when entering the mosque, you must also take your shoes off. If you are a Muslim going to pray, you have to go through an Ablution center where you wash off, but otherwise this is not required.
My friends and I heard that sunset is the best time to visit and take photos, so we decided to take the 5pm tour. Now, you can walk around the grounds on your own, but the tour is free and you get access to more parts of the Mosque along with a tour guide, so I highly recommend doing this.
Our tour guide, Omar, gave us a set of headphones and told us the history of the mosque and basic facts on the religion of Islam and how they pray. He also gave us some details about the architecture of the building itself. Being that it is made out of Macedonian granite and plated with legit jewels and gold, I would say it is definitively out of my price range. Fun fact: It took 11 years to build and there are over 1,000 columns.
We then entered the Mosque itself. It is totally carpeted and absolutely stunning. Rather than describe it for you, I will let you see it for yourself. Make sure to read the captions!
When we exited the Mosque at the end of the tour, the sun had set and it was starting to get dark. The building became even more beautiful in the new light.
I would HIGHLY recommend going here if you visit the UAE. It was all free and was a great cultural experience. It is open to all and is a really great way to learn something new. A definite favorite from my trip.
But that wasn’t all. We did end up with the fizzy brunch and the Lourve too. One turned out to be fizzy, but only for an additional fee, and the other had a lot of leaves in places you wouldn’t expect. But, that’s for another post….stay tuned.