Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Earlier this month, Kevin and I visited the Grand Mosque.  This is an iconic structure and can been seen for miles; we can it see from Reem Island, where we live.

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We arrived at the mosque be local bus (we still don’t drive here). After a 10 minute walk to the entrance, we entered the grounds, which are richly landscaped. The building is constructed out of white marble.  It was a bit cloudy the day we visited, so some of my photos don’t show the purity of the marble, but believe me, it is white.

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We timed our visit so that we could take part in the free guided tour.  Our guide was well versed in the culture and history of the mosque.  She did not speak much about religion, expect when pointing out significant parts of the structure.  She emphasized that the mosque was built not only as a religious building, but with the intent to unite the world.  This was shown, in part, by the use of artisans and materials from around the world, not just the Middle East.

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The building has 82 onion shaped domes of seven different sizes. It is hard to show the size of this immense house of worship, but is is large enough to hold over 40,000 people for prayer. The majority of the building is made of marble, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics.

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The arcade was one of my favorite spots for photos.  The columns are inlaid with mother of pearl and colored marble.  Each flower is unique.  Below are close ups of some of their detail.

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But the highlight if the tour are the chandeliers.  The mosque has seven chandeliers, made of millions of Swarovski crystals. All of them are massive, the largest is 33 ft is diameter and 49 ft in height! Their light was like that of a kaleidoscope.DSC00788  DSC00791

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Even the doors to the main pray arrive were of stained glass with floral images.  I couldn’t resist snapping a few pics as the tour group moved on into the main prayer room.

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The main prayer room is massive.  The carpet is considered to be the world’s largest carpet and weighs over 35 tons and contains over 2,268,000,000 knots!  It took two years to complete.  The columns in the main hall also have the floral designs.

DSC00826  DSC00811We spent about three hours at the mosque and there was something new to see every minute.  The grandeur of it is overwhelming.  We will return again, only this time at night.  The lighting changes based on the lunar cycle and the “clouds” that are projected on the domes move toward Mecca. During full moon, the lighting is white.  During new moon, the lighting is bluish.  I must get pics of this.  I have only seen it at night from a distance.

Mina Port Fish Market in Abu Dhabi

What an experience! This huge building has everything a fish lover could dream of.  First…the selection.  Fresh off the boats; every possible type of fish and sea creature.  Shark, squid, sea bass, tuna, blue crabs, and prawns the size of small lobsters.  Oh yeah, they also had lobster.  Second, the cleaning stations.  After you make your purchase, you take your catch to one of the cleaning stalls where for 2 Dhs (.58 USD) for them to clean the fish to your specifications.  Third…and this is the best part, you take your cleaned fish, or in our case blue crabs and prawns, to one of the many grilling stalls.  Here your catch will be grilled, fried, or baked to perfection in about 30 minutes for a cost of 10 Dhs per kilo.  The result…beautifully charcoal grilled crabs and prawns.

As soon as our food was ready, we hailed a taxi and hurried home to enjoy our feast.  What a treat!  Yes, the market smells like fish.  Yes, it is noisy.  Yes, they speak little English.  But the food and experience is so worth it.  If you are in Abu Dhabi, you must make the trek to the Mina Fish Market. Bus 54 takes you to the front entrance.

Bon Appetit.

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Grill king sized prawns.