Skip to Content

Abu Dhabi, UAE– the biggest surprise

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!

Rosewood Abu Dhabi

My wonderful hosts suggested that I check out the Grand Mosque, and I’m so glad they did! Abu Dhabi UAE Grand Mosque

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.

Grand Mosque with an Abaya

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!

Grand Mosque columns

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.  World's largest carpet Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi

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.

chandelier in the Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi

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.”

Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi

Grand Mosque Dome Abu Dhabi

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.

Gold ATM in Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi

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. Mezzaluna Abu Dhabi thesweetwanderlust.comMezzaluna Abu Dhabi

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!Camel ride in Abu Dhabi Camel Cuddles

Camel riding at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi Camel kisses Abu Dhabi

And to wrap up a sweet 26 hours in Abu Dhabi… a visit to The Galleria for some coffee and chocolate at Godiva. Godiva Abu Dhabi

Thank you to my wonderful hosts… You were the biggest blessing to me! And shukran, Abu Dhabi…I’ll be back!

Pin this post:

How to spend a day in Abu Dhabi-

Jossus Travelpics

Sunday 25th of February 2018

In 2 months Im going to Dubai, hopefully I have time to take a daytrip to Abu Dhabi to see that mosque.


Sunday 25th of February 2018

It's gorgeous-- well worth the trip!

Marylyn Leonard

Wednesday 9th of December 2015

Loved this visit! And I love the camel - he must have known you are special:)


Thursday 10th of December 2015

:) Thanks, Marylyn!

Tina LaRea

Wednesday 9th of December 2015

Love this post! What oppulance! And love the camels!


Thursday 10th of December 2015

Me too... it was quite the animal overload that week in the best way... camels, tigers, and elephants! :)