Abu Dhabi, Dec 2022

I have been to Dubai quite a few times but this is my first time visiting Abu Dhabi.  I came here mainly to visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.  Abu Dhabi is the capital and second most populous city, after Dubai, of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  The UAE is made up of seven different emirates, each with its own ruler, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi being the two best-known.  Abu Dhabi is the country’s political and industrial center.  Only about an hour and half from Dubai, Abu Dhabi feels distinctly more traditional and less glitzy.  I personally prefer Dubai which has better service, shopping, dining, and nightlife.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was built by Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the father of the UAE and its first president, to be his final resting place.  The impressive Grand Mosque is one of the largest in the world with a capacity for 40,000 worshippers and a triumph of Islamic architecture and design in the modern day.  The mosque is built using more than 90,000 tonnes of white marble, some inlaid with semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, mother of pearl, red agate etc.  The main prayer hall is fitted with three gold and brass chandeliers clad with Swarovski crystals and the world’s largest loomed Persian carpet with over 2.3 billion knots.  It is one of the few mosques that welcome visitors except during prayer times.  Tickets are free and should be booked in advance online.  The best time for photographs are early in the morning or late in the afternoon around sunset time.  All visitors are asked to wear long trousers or skirts, long sleeves and a headscarf for women.  One used to be able to borrow abayas but it has been suspended due to covid.  I brought my own black abaya and so did many other female visitors though some obviously bought theirs online thinking that looking like a character from Arabian Nights was a good idea. 😂



Another highlight of Abu Dhabi is the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum opened in late 2017.  A silver dome of 7,850 stars geometrically fitted together in eight layers floats above the museum.  Light filters through the perforations to the floor creating a “rain of light” effect.  There are 12 galleries here and unlike traditional museums, the artworks are grouped by theme and time frame.  So artefacts from Asia will be displayed adjacent to those from the West during the same historic period demonstrating how we are more similar than we are different.  We spent around 2 hours browsing the galleries and had a nice lunch on the terrace of the museum cafe.


That’s a wrap for my short adventure in the Middle East.  Until the next trip!  Stay tuned!

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4 Responses

  1. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is that one place in the UAE capital I most want to visit should I happen to go there. I really love the dome, another masterpiece by Jean Nouvel who is also working at an ambitious project in AlUla.

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