We left for Abu Dhabi in the morning on January 18th. First we went to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which we were not expecting to do and therefore were not wearing appropriate clothes. Luckily the tour guides brought along abayas and hijabs for us to wear. The dress code here was probably the strictest out of all the places we went. I saw a couple of people get turned back because they were not properly covered.
According to our tour guide, the mosque in Abu Dhabi is the 7th largest one in the world and can hold 40,000 people. It is absolutely enormous, making it difficult to imagine how it isn’t the largest mosque in the world! We took photos outside, and then took our shoes off and went inside. It was just as beautiful inside as outside. There was gold and Swarovski crystals everywhere, not to mention the world’s largest carpet. Apparently it cost over half a billion dollars to construct.
Next we went to Emirates Palace, a fancy hotel where the king often holds official meetings, and looked around inside. We drove by the palace where there is a tank at the gate with a machine gun ready to shoot. Next we went to the heritage village which had examples of the old style houses and even a sandy area with camel rides. We took pictures of the Arabian Gulf nearby, then had lunch and went back to Dubai in the late afternoon.
We booked a dinner cruise along the Dubai Creek. The boat was very elegant and had live piano music. We enjoyed a 4 course dinner. This was the first nice meal I had since arriving in Dubai. It was nice to be able to see the city all lit up at night from the water. The only downside was that the creek is relatively short, so we saw the same buildings quite a few times being that it was a 3 hour cruise. At one point, we were able to see fireworks from the boat, which happen every night as part of the Dubai Shopping Festival.