Abu Dhabi and The Shekh al Zayed Grand Mosque

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On a day trip from Dubai, I managed to fit in a visit to the capital of the UAE where I discovered what is perhaps the most impressive building I’ve ever seen in person – The Sheikh al Zayed Grand Mosque.

The largest mosque in the country, it’s incredibly ornate and beautiful with its pure white marble and touches of gold with semi-precious stones used inside for decoration. I was genuinely impressed. I’ve seen stunning cathedrals and basilicas before but never a mosque, until now, it was quite an experience.

Inspired by Persian, Mughal, and Alexandrian design, this modern mosque was completed in 2007 and can hold 40,000 worshippers. It has 82 marble domes, over 1,000 columns, and 4 minarets measuring in at 107 metres tall. The palatial grounds were so incredible that they didn’t even look real!  The reflecting pools were also an amazing sight. I later learned that at night there’s a light display which reflects the phases of the moon – It must be an incredible sight to see.

I was able to enter inside the mosque too, it’s one of the rare mosques in this area that allows non-muslims to visit though tourists must visit outside of the hours of prayer, dress appropriately (in my case I had to take my shoes off but women must cover up completely) and generally just be respectful. It was full of ornate details… The carpet in the main hall is handmade from wool and said to be the largest single piece of carpet in the world measuring more than 67,000 square feet.

The Corniche in Abu Dhabi is a beautiful area in the west of the city that I enjoyed walking along. It’s a clean serene beachfront with jogging and bike paths, fountains, parks, manicured gardens, and cafes/restaurants that stretches 8km in total. The area was extended between 2002 and 2003 with land reclaimed from the sea!

I shot this view (below) of the Abu Dhabi skyline from the Corniche on my walk. This city definitely wasn’t as large and hectic as Dubai, which gave it a distinctive charm.

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