Even after being in Dubai for three months, I had never been to the capital of the UAE: Abu Dhabi – the last full day of Anna’s visit offered the perfect opportunity for a drive to another emirate!
The vibe there is a bit more low key than here in Dubai, but frankly, it was a nice escape for the day. We left the hustle and bustle of Dubai quickly behind and were in Abu Dhabi within an hour and a half – an easy drive. Our first stop was the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and is the key place of worship for the country. Taking more than ten years (1996-2007) to construct, the mosque was commissioned by Baba Zayed himself. The Grand Mosque is the eighth largest in the world and is the length of five football fields! The architecture is unlike nothing I have ever seen before, and the building itself is so white it hurts to look at – make sure you don your sunglasses!
Just like when you visit St Paul’s Cathedral in Rome, one must dress respectfully when visiting this place of worship; Anna and I had to wear abayas to ensure our legs and arms, and finally, our hair was covered before entering the mosque.
The interior of the mosque was just as incredible as the exterior, if that’s possible. The Iranian carpet in the main hall is considered to be the largest in the world and took almost two years to complete. I loved the shade of green!
The chandeliers, while a bit over the top for my taste, were also a sight to behold: all were imported from Germany and contain millions of Swarovski crystals.
Back outside, there were some more opportunities to take in the architecture and tranquility of the mosque.
The Emirates Palace Hotel was our next stop – this hotel was where the SATC ladies went in the second movie (don’t act like you haven’t seen it!) 😉 Again, another over the top building here in the UAE (the list is ever growing), but lovely all the same.
The only disappointment of the day was that I hadn’t been sooner! The Grand Mosque was one of unique and picturesque buildings I’ve ever laid eyes upon, and the slower atmosphere of the city (vs. Dubai) was so refreshing. Can’t wait to go back! Until next time…