I can’t believe an entire week has already flown by since my trip began. I’m writing this post now in Kuala Lumpur, waiting at the airport for my next flight to Bangkok (which leaves in about 7 hours and gives me ample time to post). That said, I’m going to need it — there’s a few more posts about Dubai coming your way!
Dubai was, as expected, absolutely incredible. If you read my previous post, you’ll already know how I was mesmerized by the Arabian desert. Now, my travels have taken me to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, just an hour and a half drive outside of Dubai.
Our mini-road trip was slightly confusing (thanks largely to our Google maps personality finding herself repeatedly lost), but when we arrived in Abu Dhabi the mosque was almost impossible to miss. It’s an enormous structure that can fit over 41,000 worshippers, and the architecture and design is nothing short of impressive. Think dazzling white marble donned with gold, 82 domes at different sizes, reflective pools, traditional Moroccan artwork, and Swarovski crystal chandeliers dominating the ceiling of the main prayer hall. The largest of these, believe it or not, is the biggest chandelier in the world, and actually weighs 12 tonnes. Another fun fact? The carpet in the main prayer hall is the largest knotted carpet in the world, with 1,200 artisans lending their hands to craft it across a time span of two years. While nobody actually knows how much it cost to create the mosque (Sheikh Zayed gave it as a gift to his people and so didn’t want them to know the price), there’s one thing for certain — the man had great taste.
Think dazzling white marble donned with gold, 82 domes at different sizes, reflective pools, traditional Moroccan artwork, and Swarovski crystal chandeliers…
Beyond simple design, I learned a lot visiting the mosque, and it helped to shed some light on the Muslim culture that I initially knew very little about. Right from the start, ladies are given an abaya to wear for the duration of the visit, and a tour can tell you more about the five times of day that Muslims pray, why they always stand facing the direction of Mecca, and even what the honeycomb-like designs on the pillars represent (hint: it has to do with the land of milk and honey). If you’re lucky, your visit might also fall over one of the calls to prayer, and you’ll be able to hear the song over the loudspeakers and echoing over the grounds.
I would really recommend a trip to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque if you find yourself in either Dubai or Abu Dhabi. I’m not sure what it costs if you book it as a tour, but admission to the mosque itself is totally free and the road trip is something unique in itself. Definitely one for the books!