Hello from the United Arab Emirates!
Waseem and I have been in Dubai for a little over a week with still quite a few days left! Waseem is here on business and I was at Pop Con Dubai over the weekend speaking on a social media panel as well as being Chrisspy’s model for her masterclass (also at Pop Con!). I’ve been to Dubai several times, usually for long layovers so my mom could hit up the gold souq; but Waseem and I also visited for our first wedding anniversary almost three years ago! I was excited to come back for such an extended period of time with a little bit of experience under my belt. What I was most excited for was the chance to drive down to Abu Dhabi and visit the gorgeous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque again! This mosque is my favorite place I’ve ever visited in the world – how can it not be?! It is so gorgeous and peaceful – not pretentious like I expected prior to my first visit. It’s beyond decadent, adorned with marble, gold, precious stones, and crystal galore, don’t get me wrong – but I think there’s something really beautiful about feeling proud of your place of worship.
The Grand Mosque was established by the late president, who wanted to create something that truly unified the Muslim world – its peoples, history, & art. Materials and artisans from all over the world were brought to design and create this mosque and the design is best described as a fusion of Arab, Persian, Mughal & Moorish architecture. Yes, I got that from Wikipedia haha ;) The Grand Mosque accomodates over 40,000 worshippers and is made up of over 1000 columns and 82 domes, it will seriously take your breath away!
Tourist hours vary depending on the day. I was lucky enough to pray jummah (Friday prayer) twice here! In 2014 it seemed as though tourist hours began right after prayers ended (busloads of tourists came through as we were getting out) but the current schedule shows that tourist hours begin after 4:30pm on Fridays – be sure to check the schedule! I was a bit nervous about taking photos after prayers but no one said a thing & the mosque seems to be very photo friendly – they even host a photography competition every year! I have heard that you cannot bring tripods though, luckily I didn’t visit alone! :) To be honest, I don’t understand the Rihanna controversy from a few years back – she wasn’t doing anything that everyone else wasn’t doing! All tourists take a million photos. It’s the #1 tourist destination in Abu Dhabi and there are guided tours daily!
I drove down to Abu Dhabi with my friend Shyema (who took my bomb photos!) on Friday for Jummah prayer. Waseem & I spontaneously drove down last night and I have to say it is also soooo beautiful at night! To visit during Mahgrib (sunset prayer), is on my bucketlist! I don’t know if I can handle another drive this week, but God willing – next time!