In Awe: The Sheik Zayed Mosque

After a week spent in Dubai, I think we were all begging for a change of scenery – and my cousin for us to go home so she could clean the mess that had piled up. Since I wasn’t expected to be in Turkey until the end of September, I had extended my stay by a few days, which gave us enough time to fit in a day’s trip to Abu Dhabi. We hopped on a bus to Abu Dhabi in the morning and 90 minutes later, we were in the capital of the UAE. I’m not sure quite sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t a completely normal bus station which could easily have been one in Turkey or any other place in the world. Yes, a week in Dubai had really skewed our imaginations about how the whole Emirate kingdom should look like.

We grabbed literally the most expensive breakfast ever and then got on a bus to go to the Sheik Zayed Mosque – the only reason I had been able to drag the lazy bums all the way to Abu Dhabi. Since we weren’t quite sure when the mosque actually was, we ended up following an Asian couple but at some point, it somehow ended up with them following us.

The Mosque, from outside
The Mosque, from outside

The view of the mosque from the streets was a breathtaking sight and that was just from the outside. Fifteen minutes later, we were still going round the mosque trying to find the entrance gates. We got driven to the courtyard in an enlarged-golf-cart-looking vehicle and were quite glad that we didn’t actually have to walk all the way there – the place is seriously massive. Us girls were directed to the ‘abaya’ loaning area while the boys waited for us outside, and finally we were all ready to explore this beautiful place of worship and art.

Pools surrounding the area
Pools surrounding the courtyard
The inner courtyard
The inner courtyard
Still in the inner courtyard
Still in the inner courtyard

The Sheik Zayed Mosque, the largest mosque in the Emirates and 8th largest in the world, is the key of worship in the country. It was built with the idea to bring together cultural diversity of the Islamic world, historical and modern values of architecture and art, and the results is simply breathtaking. By the looks of it, we had missed the free English tour that they offered in the morning so we simply walked around and took in the beauty of the place.

The ablution corner - a real Chamber of Secrets?
The ablution corner – a real Chamber of Secrets?
Floral designs everywhere
Floral designs everywhere
And chandeliers. As well as the world's largest woven carpet.
And chandeliers. As well as the world’s largest woven carpet.
and more floral designs
and more floral designs
And chandeliers with floral designs
And chandeliers with floral designs

The cousin and I went into the women’s prayer halls for the early afternoon prayers after which we just sat and enjoyed the serenity of the place. I had visited many mosques, especially during my time in Turkey, but I had literally never been somewhere this peaceful. I definitely didn’t want to leave by the end of everything.

Main gate to the inner courtyard
Main gate to the inner courtyard
This is what I imagine Aladdin's palace to be like
This is what I imagine Aladdin’s palace to be like

We ended up spending quite a long time at the mosque and before we knew it, it was time to head back to busy and noisy Dubai. We didn’t even get to see anything else, despite my long list of places to go. Now that’s somewhere that’s definitely on my list of places to go to again.

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