Monday 25 November 2019
I am popping to Abu Dhabi for the day! I haven’t been before and really want to visit the grand mosque.
It was in theory easy enough to get there.
The first challenge – the metro. Chaos. Insanely busy. Luckily I only had to go a few stops. I was the only female. All Indian men. You would think you were in India. Over half the population of the UAE is from India.
I eventually found the bus station – Al Ghubaiba. And the bus to Abu Dhabi. It was 25 dirhams (about £7). The buses leave about every 15 minutes, so I didn’t have long to wait.
It was just over a 2 hour drive. Through Dubai city. Then into the desert. Cross into the next emirate. And finally into Abu Dhabi city!
We passed the grand mosque on the way into the city. But the bus only stops in the city centre, so then I had a 20 minute Uber drive all the way back!
The entrance to the mosque is several hundred meters away. And you have to walk underground through a mall to get there! It is all brand new and several shops aren’t open yet – so this hasn’t been open long.
You have to be dressed appropriately. Ankles, wrists and head covered. My clothes were deemed inappropriate (along with absolutely every single other girl!). And was sent to a wardrobe room to pick up an abaya. There was a choice of 3 colours, red, blue or pink. I went for pink and I’m not quite sure why. I would have normally gone for blue….
Then a long walk. A really long walk, underground.
When you pop up from the escalator, you’re there! Right in front of the mosque. And it’s free to get in!
The mosque is the largest in the country and during busy times up to 41,000 people will come to worship here. It is fairly new – construction only finished in 2007.
It’s similar in colour and patterned design (up close on the surfaces) to the Taj Mahal.
It was packed. So busy. It took away from the experience. Instead of people quiet and peaceful it was hectic. Selfie sticks in my face. Being pushed out of the way for photos. People shouting at each other. Phones everywhere. Chaos. I didn’t enjoy it.
I know my photos look like there are no people. But thats because large areas are out of bounds – you are held back by barriers and only allowed to walk on set walkways. The designated ‘photo spots’ are just full of people.
You walk around half of the circumference and then get to view inside the main prayer hall, which is extremely extravagant. More decorative mosasaurs across all the walls. And coloured Swarovski Crystal chandeliers. Really cool. The carpet inside the main prayer hall is the largest in the world.
I spent about an hour wandering around.
Then back through the mall, to the car park. And an Uber back into the city.
I went for lunch at a Wild and the Moon cafe. I went to one of these in Paris for my birthday earlier in the year. I had tacos and a smoothie. Was good. But super expensive – £20!
There wasn’t much else that I wanted to see in the city. And the louvre is closed on a Monday, which is a shame.
So I headed back to Dubai.