Abu Dhabi

Published: March 14th 2017
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Monday March 6 – We had to get up at 6:30am today, to have breakfast and catch the bus to Abu Dhabi at 8am. It took two hours to get there, and then we caught a cab to the Grand Mosque. It is the largest mosque in Abu Dhabi and the only one that allows non Muslims to enter. “Grand” hardly describes it – it’s amazing. They have free tours every day, usually at 10am, 11am, and 5pm. We were there for the 11am tour, and I was surprised how many people were there but were not on the tour. It was so good. Our tour guide walked us around the outside and inside, explaining everything to us. The building is stunning and light. Jeroen much preferred it to any church he’s ever seen as he finds them dark and creepy. I like churches, probably because they are dark and creepy. But I really liked this open light space a lot. It can hold around 50,000 worshippers at the same time, which only happens on very special holidays. If you’ve ever been to a Muslim country, you’ll have seen mosques with minarets, and you’ll have heard calls from those minarets five times a day, calling people to prayer. Usually somebody has climbed up the minaret to make the call, but I was surprised to learn that at the Grand Mosque, the call is done from within the mosque itself, and this call is broadcast via satellite to all other mosques in Abu Dhabi, so they are all using the same call at the same time. It is still live, but only from one guy. In contrast, on another night in Oman, we heard three mosques calling and it was clear it was three different men. We really enjoyed being able to walk inside the mosque (you have to take your shoes off first) and learning a little more along the way.

From the mosque, we took a cab to another of the most famous landmarks, the Emirates Palace hotel. It is very large and decadent and definitely not for me. The royal family apparently has their own entrance when they stay there. We walked outside a little, to what looks like the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and wanted to walk further, but it was a little too hot outside for Jeroen and we were both getting cranky and tired and hungry, so we got a cab back to the bus station and headed back to Dubai. I found it frustrating that there wasn’t much easily accessible public transport there and the city sights we wanted to see were pretty spread out.

Back in Dubai we headed back to hotel to find our room had not been cleaned, which is pretty funny considering that when I stay in hotels (which is rare), I always put the sign on the door that says Do Not Disturb. But here, we put out the sign that says Please Clean Our Room, and nothing happened. So we called and they came to clean our room when we left for dinner. We eventually settled on a mostly-Indian-but-also-sells-other-random-cuisines type of place. Wasn’t sure how it would be, but it was delicious. I had butter chicken and garlic naan and he had fried rice and it was all so good and made it hard to walk home.

Additional photos below
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15th March 2017
Grand mosque clock showing prayer time

cool clock

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