If you only have time to see one thing in Abu Dhabi, make sure it's the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
The first word that comes to mind when describing this mosque, is simply breathtaking! It reminds me of the Taj Mahal in India- which is another landmark that is absolutely stunning beyond belief.
While we were in Dubai, we decided to take the less than 2 hour drive to Abu Dhabi. It's a small, fairly new city that is rapidly developing and becoming one of the wealthiest cities in the world.
We visited a few other places in Abu Dhabi, but the main reason we went, was for the Sheikh Zayed. I remember seeing it in one of those Beautiful Destination Instagram accounts, and was mesmerized by the picture! And since we were already heading to Dubai, it was perfect timing.
To enter the mosque, ladies have to cover up. No part of the body can be exposed, including the hair. Even though I was wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt, I was still provided with an Abaya, a black robe, in order to comply with their strict rules. I suggest bringing a nice colorful scarf to add contrast- which looks nice in pictures.
Be prepared to be hot, very hot! An abaya and scorching weather, is not the best combination - but if it means being able to enter this architectural delight, then it's totally worth it in my book.
When taking pictures, men and women are not allowed to touch- even if you're related. I got reprimanded for hugging my dad - so make sure you keep your distance.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was initiated by the late president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who wanted to establish a structure which unites the cultural diversity of Islamic world, the historical and modern values of architecture and art.
The mosque was constructed from 1996 to 2007. It is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and the eighth largest mosque in the world.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has seven imported chandeliers from the company Faustig, in Munich Germany, that incorporates millions of Swarovski crystals. The largest chandelier, is the second largest known chandelier inside a mosque, the third largest in the world and has a 33 ft diameter and 49 ft height.
The carpet in the main prayer hall is considered to be the world's largest carpet made by Iran's Carpet Company and designed by Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi. The carpet measures 60,570 sq ft, and was made by around 1,200-1,300 carpet knotters. The weight is 35 tons and is predominantly made from wool (originating from New Zealand and Iran). There are 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet and it took approximately two years to complete.
The library, located in the north/east minaret, serves the community with classic books and publications addressing a range of Islamic subjects: sciences, civilization, calligraphy, the arts, coins and includes some rare publications dating back more than 200 years.
Such a unique and beautiful cultural experience. A must see if you're ever in Abu Dhabi!