I flipped my plans around as I haven’t heard back from Dinesh and decided to head towards to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Palace with Amanda.
We took a cab over after finding several randoms to split the cost with and it only sets us back at 60AED instead of 25AED (via bus), and with 35AED with added convenience and at almost half the time, we just went with it.
They dropped us right by the Mosque and we were graced by the beautiful exterior. White, purity, serenity. We headed down to get over to the mosque and they have a really nice cloakroom which we stowed our bags for our time there. Thank god for the cloakroom if not we would be lugging our stuff around the whole time.
The whole mosque is a wonderful architectural gem. And we would have to register online upon reaching the mosque. Don’t worry, it’s a simple registration with the iPads provided and there is a lot of friendly staff to guide you.
We also took on the audio tour and I’m glad we did because I’d learn so much more compared to just walking around and admiring its architecture. I learned about how this all came about, the dream to build a place that could host thousands of religious practitioners (possibly more). I learn more about the interiors, exterior, and how even the pillars have meanings to them. It all reminds me of the beauty of the white temple in Chiang Rai, where I marvel at the dazzling white gem.
It was however disappointing due to the surge of tourists to be there for the gram. You could see several women disrespecting the culture while they have their hair out of the hood to try to look good and only to be kindly reminded to keep their hair inside time and again by the patient staff. There are couples who held hands or the guy who have his hand around the waist, and intimacy isn’t allowed in the mosque. There are also people who stood and choked up the line for their selfies which their face possible takes up 30% of the photos. It isn’t a good sight and it is sad to see people traveling just for the gram. Though it’s all about social media representation of yourself now, sometimes people should be a little more considerate in a much more sensitive grounds, as a place of worship/cultural sites with rules that should respect.
I’m actually really glad that I popped by here and this certainly gave me more meaning to Abu Dhabi!
Name: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre
Address: Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street - Abu Dhabi
Opening Hours: 09:00-22:00 Sat-Thur / 16:30-22:00 (Fri)