Abu Dhabi – Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque

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I spent a nice weekend in the neighboring emirate of Abu Dhabi.  I didn’t do as much as I had hoped there, but that was mainly due to the heat as other things I would have liked to do are outside.  Also, really wanted to hit up their wildlife park, but it doesn’t open ’til later this year.  Will have to go back in the winter & check out the park & go kayaking in the mangroves & stuff.

Stayed at Le Meridien which ended up being pretty decent.  The decor was a bit traditional/old fashioned but it was still nice.  It had a lot of restaurants & bars/lounges & was landscaped quite lushly so had a nice tropical feel to it.
The only bad thing, which I should be used to by now, was that the view from the balcony, as well as from the beach, was marred by a ton of construction going on on the nearby Reem Island (Abu Dhabi is actually an archipelago, some of the islands are just a couple hundred meters away from each other).

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My main reason for visiting Abu Dhabi was to the grand mosque, the Sheikh Zayed mosque.  It’s the largest mosque in the UAE and one fo the largest in the world.  It’s an absolutely stunning structure, not overly adorned or gaudy at all, really very beautiful inside & out.  It reminded me of a fairy tale palace or something from a Disney movie.  Really unbelievable.
All marble with tons of carving, mosaics inlaid everywhere.  The detail in this place was out of control!  It’s a new mosque, I think it just opened in late 2007 or 2008 & during my visit the mosque itself was totally finished but the surrounding grounds are still being constructed.  They were even building ornate entrances/towers for the parking lot entrances!

One thing did rub me the wring way at the mosque — I came prepared, clothing wise.  I had on a skirt which went to my ankles, a long sleeved blouse buttoned all up as well as a head scarf.  So I go marching through & then security stops me.  I’m worried I did something wrong.
Well apparently – women are not allowed to enter the mosque wearing western clothing…but men are!  I had to go rent an abaya &  hijab.  It’s frustrating that the “no western clothing” rule applied only to women, but when in Rome, I suppose?

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