Today’s post is by Michelle from the Instagram account traveler.eyes
The United Arab Emirates is the country located at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, sharing sea borders with Qatar and Iran. The country is a federation of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi which serves as the capital, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras-al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm-al-Quwain. So while visiting Dubai, one of the places that I had on my Bucket list was the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. It has the kind of architecture and looks like a mosque you would picture in your head when thinking about the Middle East. I remember sitting on the bus December 2014 with my friends, doing our makeup to look pretty in pictures. Overall I was feeling anxious to finally have this amazing opportunity to visit the Mosque.
Once the bus was parked, we were given instructions to cover our hair and shoulders with a scarf. Prior to the visit, we were told by our guide to wear loose clothing such as “Aladdin pants” or a long loose skirt. We also needed to cover our arms with a long sleeve shirt. Women who are not wearing loose clothes and a scarf are not allowed to go in.
We were all asked to make a line (we were a school group of around 30) and security guards inspected our clothing to approve if it was appropriate or not. Once we were all allowed in, fascination started. Walking through the marble floors felt like heaven. Surrounded by gardens and fountains, crystal water pools, and palm trees, the Mosque is a majestic white marble structure, with 82 24-karat-gold-tipped domes which shine like nothing I’ve seen before. The building has more than 1,000 columns, all covered of course in white marble. Some others have colored marble and other precious stones such as amethyst, abalone, and pearl. The flooring consists of floral mosaic designs created using coloured marble.I truly felt like a princess in this precious place!
The fact that now I was covered like other muslim women made the experience even more unique.
Everywhere I looked there was something gold; a column, details on the floors, on the ceilings, on the pools, it was just amazing! The mosque is over 22,000 square meters, the equivalent to five football fields (according to some research I made to have the numbers right). So literally the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque should be a must on everyone’s bucket list not to mention that it has “achieved three entries into the Guinness Book of World Records with the largest carpet, the biggest chandelier as well as the largest dome of its kind in the world”.
I would like to add that the overall visit to the Middle East was a life changing experience for me. The cultural shock was huge but in a good way; shocking in the sense of women covering their hair, arms and legs as is known in Muslim countries. It is one thing to see it in documentaries, pictures etc. and another to experience it yourself. Also the wealthiness of everyone specifically in Dubai was impressive, from luxurious cars, fancy restaurants, to the biggest shopping mall in the world, Dubai is for sure the definition of luxury. Nevertheless, it is an excellent place to visit if you also want to appreciate the Muslim culture, with of course a little shopping too.
And just a quick reminder if anyone plans on visiting the Mosque, please consider that it is a sacred place. It should be visited with respect especially when taking pictures. No sexy poses or lying down like Rihanna did on her visit in 2013!
Follow me on Instagram @traveler.eyes
Thanks to Niki for giving me the opportunity to share my experience and pictures on her amazing blog.
Michelle started traveling outside of America in 2013.
Have you ever been to the Middle East or the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque?