Hey all, it’s Josh again. I wanted to do a brief post about the brief stay Rocky and I did in Abu Dhabi. In my last post, I talked about the amazing flight Rocky and I took in first class on board Etihad’s brand new 787. So I’ll go ahead and pick up where I left off.
When we arrived in Abu Dhabi, Etihad gave us an expedited card that was met to speed up customs. I suppose it might have, but we were sent through a special line for just first and business class passengers, which ended up not being much faster. Customs just took a surprisingly long amount of time; the guy looked at my passport photo for about a two minutes before he decided that it was actually me (in his defense, I’m way more attractive now than I was when I was 18). About 45 minutes later we were free to leave the airport.
Before we did though, we had to take advantage of Etihad’s arrival lounge. It was fairly small, with just a small lounge area and a buffet with various pre-made sandwiches and desserts. The coolest part of the lounge was the barber that offered free shaves. After a long flight, this was highly appreciated, so of course Rocky and I each had one. The barber was nice, though he did scold me and tell me that I don’t shave properly, but it was in good fun!
After that, we were off to see the city! Rocky ordered us an Uber and we headed downtown, which we thought would be just like a 10 minute drive. Wow, were we wrong! It took about 30-45 minutes to get to our hotel as the airport was a surprisingly long way away from the city center. On the way into the city, we drove past the Grand Mosque, and we immediately agreed that we had to make it a priority to see.
We arrived to our hotel, checked in, and went out to see the city. I wish there was a lot that I could say here, but there really isn’t. In our typical fashion, we went walking to see what there was to see, but that wasn’t much. Abu Dhabi is a business city. The architecture is unremarkable, there aren’t really any bars or clubs (all bars have to be attached to hotels) and the locals seem to only hang out at malls. Because it was about 10:00 pm local time by the time we were able to start walking around, even the mall was closing up. So overall, we walked around a relatively sterile (it was certainly cleaner than Seattle) city for an hour or two, gave up, and went to the bar at our hotel. I will say, the bar was pretty cool. It was a rooftop lounge that was playing a sort of Middle Eastern house music funk fusion. I don’t know how to describe it, but the music was actually really chill and fun to listen to! They had the cool colored lighting and white patio furniture that a roof top lounge would be expected to have. There, Rocky and I shared some shisha (hookah) and had a couple of beers before heading to bed.
The next morning, we got up early and headed out to see some more of the city. Rocky found out that there was a city check in, so we made our way towards it. Our goal was to check in, go see the Grand Mosque, and then head to the airport for our flight to Cairo. Here are some pictures I took as we walked towards the airport check in.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was without a doubt the coolest part of the entire city. It was still under construction while we there, but the main structure was finished. It was mainly the grounds that were still incomplete and a parking garage that needed to be built. The Mosque is glaringly white (seriously, wear sunglass or your eyes WILL hurt as Rocky can attest to!). It is filled with domes and spires, and is beautiful from literally every angle. If you do ever visit it, just be aware that there is a dress code. Women have to have their heads and arms covered. Men had to wear at least a t-shirt as tank tops are not allowed, and I believe you even have to wear pants (though they can be rolled up on the bottom). You cannot wear shoes in the mosque, so make sure to wear socks if that is something that bothers you. Despite the very stringent dress code (I’m withholding my opinion), the mosque is completely worth it. Inside, expect to see domes larger than you can imagine, beautiful chandeliers, and pillars made with Mother of Pearl veins in them. In truth, the Mosque seems more as if the Emirate is showing off of the vast amount of money it has instead of building a place to worship, but in the end, the beauty of it is impossible to fathom! In a rather unremarkable city, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque stands out as a modern structure unmatched in beauty throughout most of the world!
As I was soon about to find out, Abu Dhabi was actually a good transitional city into the Middle East. Despite talking that Abu Dhabi was boring and sterile, it was still a cool place to visit. The entire time I was there, I was incredibly excited! I mean, how often are you in the UAE?!? It would have been ridiculous to not be excited. The people were friendly and the city was very modern feeling. It’s also is only about a 45 minute drive from Dubai, so if you’re ever in Dubai you could easily swing down for a quick tour of the city. It was very fun for the day, but by the time we left the Mosque, my mind had turned to the next stop in our journey; Cairo.