Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Muscat–We loved them all!

Back home, we are remembering some of the wonderful experiences we enjoyed in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Muscat.   Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi was beautiful.

Front of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Photo from Wikipedia.

And we, as non Muslims, were able to go inside to see the largest carpet, largest chandelier and the grandeur of this mosque.   The fish market was fun and I, Zeb the Duck, got a fish.

fish market for a snack

An evening boat ride, dinner included, showed us old and new on the Abu Dhabi sky line.

Abu Dhabi skyline

A common sight, and sound, throughout our Middle East adventure, the minaret of a mosque with a speaker for the call to worship.

Minaret of mosque with speakers

We gave up a free day in Abu Dhabi to experience a little of Muscat, Oman.   Here we saw some old and some new.   Muscat is a few thousand years old.   We loved wandering through the souk.

We explore the souk

Driving through Muscat, we appreciated the absence of too many cars and the accompanying car noises.

Driving through Muscat, Oman

Here, our guide shows some of the new:  The Royal Opera House of Muscat, Oman.

Our guide in Muscat, Oman

Back to the United Arab Emirates, in Dubai we rode a traditional boat, or dhow, to cross Dubai Creek.

Tourists crossing Dubai Creek on Dhow

We admired Dubai Fountain with Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, all connected with Dubai Mall.

Burj Khalifa behind Dubai Fountain

Dubai Marina was bustling, but still relaxing for our lunch stop.

Dubai Marina from Salsa Restaurant

Mall of the Emirates provided indoor snow skiing and tubing on snow, in additional to fabulous dining and shopping.

Skiing and tubing

Souk Madinat Jumeirah was a modern souk.

I love meeting new friends

The narrow alley of Bastakia Heritage Area showed life before oil and oil money forever changed Dubai.

Narrow alley walkways

Aromas from the spice souk will be with us always.

Spice souk

Of course we loved the animals.   The unexpected flock of flamingos were wonderful to see.

Some are looking at me

And riding the desert native, a camel, made our trip even more memorable.

Our camel is friendly

Of course we will never the gold souk with those huge gold necklaces and gold hats.   But our fondest memories are of the kind, welcoming people we met.   Our trip was a tour through http://www.SmarTours.com.   We have taken tours from them previously.   This was Deluxe Dubai and Abu Dhabi.   The day trip to Muscat, Oman, was not connected to SmarTours.   Chanel’s mom made separate reservations for us and we loved our day in Oman.   We hope you visit Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman soon.   We loved it.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with Zeb the Duck

We are approaching a huge white building.

Front of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Photo from Wikipedia.

Front of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Photo from Wikipedia.

The main entrance to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is very impressive.   This photo came from Wikipedia.   This, the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates, is also the eighth largest in the world.   Let’s go inside.

Let's go in

Let’s go in

This massive courtyard covers 17,400 square meters.   We love this view with the minarets.

Courtyard

Courtyard

Security is tight here.   There are several security men to prevent tourists from walking in the courtyard.   The floor has colored marble and floral decorations that are twisted and coiled in stunning patterns.

Courtyard

Courtyard

Around the courtyard, we admired the more than one thousand columns.

Columns

Columns

Each column was inspired by the palm tree, and decorated with marble and inlaid with floral designs and semi precious stones from around the world.   Construction for this mosque began in 1996 and was completed in 2007.   Before entering the main prayer hall, shoes must be removed and we passed through this smaller room.   The clock here shows the prayer times for the day.

Prayer times for today

Prayer times for today

We admired one of the seven chandeliers in the mosque.

Chandelier hanging from dome

Chandelier hanging from dome

The seven chandeliers inside the mosque hang from some of the Grand Mosque’s largest domes.   There are 82 domes, the largest with a diameter of 326 meters.   Entering the main prayer hall, the chandeliers catch your attention.

Huge chandelier

Huge chandelier

Here is the largest chandelier in the world, weighing about 12 tonnes.   Made of gilded brass, stainless steel and glass panels, the glass panels are studded with Swarovski crystals.   It is beautiful.   Next we see the Mihrab, the place in a mosque where the Imam leads worshippers in prayer.   This always faces the direction of Mecca.

For Imam

For Imam

This one is gold color and covered with gold glass mosaics.   The Minbar, or pulpit, seen here, is the place the Imam stands to address the worshippers during Friday prayers.   On the wall, in traditional Kufic calligraphy, are the 99 attributes of Allah.   Covering the floor of the main prayer hall we admired the world’s largest hand knotted carpet.

Largest hand knotted carpet

Largest hand knotted carpet

This carpet was  2 year project.   Designed by a third generation carpet maker, Dr. Ali Khaliqi, the hand crafted carpet required 1,200 artisans to complete.    In the main prayer hall there are 96 columns clad with marble and inlaid with mother of pearl.  Leaving the main prayer hall, we put our shoes on and wandered the halls around the courtyard.    We loved the detail on the columns throughout the mosque.

Great details

Great details

You may have missed seeing me, Zeb the Duck and Chanel the Bear in these photos.   We were there, but we stayed in our traveling bags.   In many holy places, we are not allowed to sit on things.   But, as you can see, mom did let me sit here, outside the mosque for one photo.

I, Zeb the Duck, was here. So was Chanel the Bear.

I, Zeb the Duck, was here.  So was Chanel the Bear.

And one last photo of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

Beautiful

Beautiful

This is one of a few mosques where non Muslims are allowed inside.   We thoroughly enjoyed seeing this beautiful building.