Dubai Day 5 (15 Mar 11) – Abu Dhabi: The Capital City visiting the Heritage Village and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Abu Dhabi – The Capital of UAE

We spent the day in the Capital of UAE, seeing how the towering skyscraper grows all over Dubai like wild mushroom, I would think Abu Dhabi won’t be too far off. We headed to the bus terminal in Dubai, which was a good 30 min metro ride from the hotel. The bus journey towards Abu Dhabi took roughly 2 hours. On the bus we met this elderly American couples. They are travelers like us, who didn’t like to be constricted by the typical tour groups. We chatted alot on our travels to different part of the world, our home town and the places we have been to and are going to in Dubai. Despite being grandparents, this couple are still rather adventurous. Some 2 hours later, we arrived at Abu Dhabi. My impression of this city is it looked rather run down and not as “glamourous” as Dubai. We bide the American couple farewell and headed over to the mall nearby the bus terminal for lunch.

A mosque that we spotted on the bus ride to Abu Dhabi

The Luxurious Emirates Palace

After lunch, we took a cab to our first destination, Emirates Palace. This building is actually a hotel, now turned into one of the very few tourist spot in Abu Dhabi. The staff at the hotel were very friendly, unlike those hotels in Dubai such as Burj Al Arab or Atlantis, this hotel welcomes guests to walk around inside the hotel. The hotel is huge and indeed looked like a palace, the amount of luxury in this hotel is beyond description. Everywhere we turn we saw nice big couches, chandeliers, and antiques. We headed to this 2 storey window that looked out into the terrace of the hotel, where the private beach is at. We wandered to the ground floor and saw this door unlocked, so we headed out. After taking few pictures, a security staff approached us and told us we were not suppose to wander to this part of the hotel as this is reserved for residents of the hotel. He then politely escorted us back inside the hotel. So this hotel does have out of bounds areas. We then wandered within the hotel, looking at how luxurious a USD 3 billion hotel can be. We spent about 20 mins inside the hotel, and then headed out into the front garden to take pictures of the front of the hotel before heading for the heritage village which is not too far from the hotel.

The ceiling of Emirates Palace
Emirates Palace – A Pure luxury
Inside Emirates Palace
The courtyards of Emirates Palace
Inside Emirates Palace
Broadwalk outside Emirates Palace
Inside Emirates Palace
Front entrance of Emirates Palace
Front entrance of Emirates Palace
Front entrance of Emirates Palace
Front entrance of Emirates Palace

The Heritage Village

We arrived nearby the heritage village. This village is situated on waterfront. From the village, we can see the whole city skyline of Abu Dhabi. Well the heritage village felt very fake to me. It doesn’t felt original, feels more like a site built for the tourists. Even the well and the old tomb at the entrance of the village looked fake. There is a small museum on the left side as we entered the village. The museum is very small, took us about 5 mins to finish all the exhibits in the museum. There is a mocked up village square where some shops are situated. We went into some of those shops to see if there is anything worth buying. The staffs here are pretty slack, they don’t even give a hood about visitors and were rather unfriendly. There is another row of shops selling souvenirs, where my friend bought some stuff from. We hanged around the village for about 20 mins and headed for the Grand Mosque.

Skyline of AbuDhabi
A mosque near the Heritage Village
Inside the Heritage Village
Inside the Heritage Village
Inside the Heritage Village
Inside the Heritage Village
Inside the Heritage Village

The Opulent and Solemn Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

I was impressed with the grandeur of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Grand Mosque. It felt like the epitome of all mosques in UAE. When I saw the domes of the white mosque, it somehow reminded me of the Taj Mahal in India. We headed inside the main building of the mosque and saw a rather large chandelier. A staff member of the mosque told us that there is a guided tour of the mosque in 5 mins time. After taking a few more quick pictures, we went to the gathering point of the tour. We met up with the American couple we saw on the bus earlier on. They were glad to see us here at the same time as well. We joined the same group for the mosque tour. The tour was indeed informative, through the tour, we got to know that the first hall was designed in accordance to how the Quran described paradise as. The large chandelier we saw in this hall was termed as the “baby chandelier by the guide. She then brought us into the main prayer hall. This is a huge hall and is where we saw the biggest chandelier in the world. The colourful 4 storey high chandelier was suspended from the ceiling by 3 wire cables. In this hall was where the world’s largest Persian Carpet was housed. The guide told us the carpet was produced by 1200 Iranian women by hand.

On one of the wall hanged a clock with 7 times, the guide explained that these are the times of the daily prayers for the Muslim culture, it also displayed the local time. After the main hall, we were brought to a smaller male prayer room. Though smaller in size, this room was also designed with the interpretation of paradise in the Quran. We were led to the outdoor square of the mosque. The guide told us that there are a total of 81 domes and 4 minarets in the mosque. The top part of these domes are made of gold! She also told us that the Grand mosque in Abu Dhabi is the only mosque opened to non-Muslims in UAE as the founder of UAE wanted to build a mosque to allow even non-Muslims understand Islamism better. However he passed away before the building of the mosque was completed. The locals built a mausoleum next to the mosque and buried him there. There is even someone to read verses of the Quran to him 24/7 since 7 years ago! Can’t help but wonder how’s the watch system like for the reading of Quran to him. After the tour, we bid the American couples farewell and wandered around the mosque more a bit.

Facade of the Grand Mosque
The Grand Mosque
The Grand Mosque
The Grand Mosque
The Grand Mosque
The Grand Mosque
The Grand Mosque
The Grand Mosque
The Grand Mosque
Inside the main prayer room of the Grand Mosque
A huge prayer room in the Grand Mosque
Looking out into the square from the Grand Mosque
Chandelier inside the Grand Mosque
Inside the Grand Mosque
World largest Persian Rug
Inside the Grand Mosque
World’s largest chandelier
Peaceful Grand Mosque
Outside the Grand Mosque

Visiting Abu Dhabi Airport

We went to the Airport in Abu Dhabi to see if it is as impressive as the one in Dubai, after all this is the capital of UAE. Well we were disappointed when we saw the airport. It is small and the shops are limited, and the passenger flow isn’t alot. We only spent about 15 mins here and took a bus back to the city. We walked around the area near the bus terminal. The area is pretty boring, nothing really much to see or to shop here. After dinner we took a bus back to Dubai, the journey was pretty much uneventful.

Abu Dhabi Airport

 

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