Day 42 • Tuesday • 16 Sept 14 (Part 2) • Today’s High 41º (Abu Dhabi)
… but enough about me, let’s talk about the equally stunning Sheikh Zayed Mosque. If the boys thought we were going all the way to Abu Dhabi just for Ferrari World, they were sadly mistaken. After an adrenalin filled morning fueling their passion, I arranged for a little detour en-route home to fuel their soul!
To be honest, I didn’t even know the name of this Mosque or anything about it. I just heard there was a beautiful one in Abu Dhabi. So I asked the driver if he could take us to “that famous Mosque” all the while thinking we’d only steal a look from the outside – we were, after all, dressed for a theme park. Little did I know our driver had other ideas.
There we were, driving around the Mosque perimeter, oohing & aahing away when our driver suddenly turns into it. I of course start freaking out because the last thing I want is to be disrespectfully dressed and worse yet, get arrested for indecent exposure! So I’m madly telling him to turn around as we don’t need to go in and he’s madly saying no problem. By now we’re in the underground car park – he stops the car and tells us to get out and make our way on foot to a door opening at the end of the car park. I’m still too apprehensive to even move, let alone get out of the car! Thankfully however, I remembered I had a big shawl stuffed in my bag, so I rolled down my cargos, wrapped the shawl from head to wrist and hoped I had gotten all my bits.
It turns out I needn’t have been so anxious because through that door opening was a changing room where they provide you with Abayas – all you need is a photo ID. Like he could have told me that in the first place right instead of giving me heart palpitations! Even though they do provide you with the appropriate dress, I would still suggest you wear loose & long clothing when you visit.
From the underground car park, you can take a lift up to the Mosque level. Standing in the grounds, you’re not only struck by the sheer size of the Mosque but also how breathtakingly beautiful it is. Pristine white, columns and floors inlaid with colourful precious stones, depicting fabulous flowers and vines that look like they’ve been painted on and that’s just outside.
At the main door, there are shelves for you to leave your shoes – you don’t have to worry about them going walkabout, you just need to remember where you put them. The inside of the Mosque is even more amazing with more intricately inlaid tiles, huge Swarovski crystal chandeliers and a soft hand knotted carpet in tones of green & red that runs from wall to wall. Words and pictures really don’t do it justice. You need to see it for yourself to appreciate all the details.
So if you’re ever in Abu Dhabi or are looking for a short road trip from Dubai, I would certainly recommend putting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque on your must-see list. It’s best to go on a weekday evening when it’s a little cooler and you don’t have to fight big crowds to take pictures. Just be sure to respectfully observe the rules and women should keep their head covered throughout the visit or you’ll have a guard on your tail in no time.
Having visited our fair share of churches during our European adventures over the years, one thing Poss and I were looking forward to in our Middle East adventure was exploring all the beautiful Mosques within the region. Perhaps we shouldn’t have started with this one then – I think it might be a little hard to beat!