I was nervous as my flight touched down in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Can you blame me? I’d been warned by well-meaning friends to not get kidnapped and sent off with loads of “be safes” as the Paris attacks had happened only a few days earlier and there was a worldwide travel alert.
But… as has been the case in every other place I was warned about, Abu Dhabi was incredible. In fact, it was probably the cleanest, safest country I’ve visited thus far. I learned that 85% of the residents of Abu Dhabi are non-natives, and with a zero tolerance policy, crime doesn’t happen often.
I was the guest of a friend’s old neighbor who was beyond generous in letting me stay with them at the Rosewood Abu Dhabi. This was my view in the morning… Good morning, indeed!
What to wear to the Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi
When you arrive, if you aren’t fully covered as a female, you’ll be directed to pick up an abaya, which covers everything except face, feet and hands. Men shouldn’t wear shorts, if you are, you’ll be provided with traditional clothing as well. You’ll be asked to take off your shoes as well, so be sure to wear easily removable ones.
More than just a mosque, this is a museum of architecture. Everything is beautiful, but more than that, everything has a purpose. Around the mosque are 1096 columns topped with golden glass mosaic palm trees– the most important tree in the UAE. Dates have been supplementing the diet of people in this region for thousands of years, and its leaves provide shelter. A little further down these columns are flowers handcut with semiprecious stones. If just one part was cut incorrectly, the whole column had to be redone! Talk about high stakes!
Inside the mosque is the world’s largest carpet, which was handmade in Persia. It’s 5,700 square meters and weighs 35 tons. Unlike most carpets in mosques, this one doesn’t contain straight lines for prayers, so the carpet was shaved to create them. As you walk barefoot over the floor, you can feel the raised sections under your toes.
On the back wall, there are 99 flower shapes containing attributes of Allah in Arabic writing. In the very center is an empty flower, as Muslims believe that the 100th attribute will be revealed on the day of judgement.
This is just the smallest of the chandeliers in the mosque. Combined, the chandeliers in the mosque contain 40 million Swarovski crystals.
Each of the domes in the mosque is topped with pure 24K gold. But don’t ask how much the mosque cost to build… it was a gift, and as those who you may ask will tell you… “You never ask the cost of a gift.”
From the most opulent religious site I’ve ever visited, I visited Emirates Palace… a SEVEN star hotel! Built 10 years ago by the Abu Dhabi government at a cost of $3 billion, it’s the second most expensively built hotel in the world, and it’s dripping with gold. There is literally a gold ATM… you know, in case you need a gold bar or two.
My wonderful host and I had a delicious lunch at Mezzaluna. Be sure to make reservations… that’s your ticket into this exclusive hotel! Fresh seafood, complimentary little desserts, great company, and a killer view made this meal even more special.
After you finish eating, you may be able to walk around the grounds. (It’s technically for guests only, though, so just FYI.) On that day, since we had eaten outside, we took a walk down to the beach to visit the bedouins and their camels. The bedouins were gracious and offered us tea, dates and camel rides on the beach. I think I rode the world’s most photogenic camel!
Thank you to my wonderful hosts… You were the biggest blessing to me! And shukran, Abu Dhabi…I’ll be back!