My last day in Abu Dhabi and at Ben's suggestion I head off to the Grand Mosque.
WOW what a beautiful building, I've never been to a mosque before and it truly took my breath away. The brilliant white marble structure set against a bright blue cloudless sky had a very calming effect. The Mosque was built by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (he was the Sheikh that discovered oil and really is responsible for shaping Abu Dhabi as it appears today) His final resting place is located on the grounds next to the mosque where his body is prayed over around the clock by 24 readers. It was built between 1996 and 2007 and is the eighth largest Mosque in the world. During Eid it can be visited by 40,000 people.
I took part in a free guided tour with a very open minded guide called Mossa who had studied in the US. I learnt more about Islam (complicated religion is seems, but in hindsight aren't most of them?). Females have to cover up when visiting and unlike the other tourists that had arrived inappropriately dressed I did not have to wear the black abayas provided since I had dressed correctly for this visit. I felt somewhat smug about this as they looked pretty uncomfortable and silly in the ill-fitting black robes.
In the afternoon I had a little down time left to reflect on my thoughts of Abu Dhabi and Dubai before I headed off to catch my overnight flight back to the UK. It's certainly the hottest place I have ever visited (and that's saying something having lived in Cancun during the months of July and August). It's also impressive how both Emeriti's have grown up so quickly from the desert after the discovery of oil, how their old world has been thrust into trying to adapt into developing western tourism and business while trying to hold onto traditions and cultures. The people overall I came across were extremely friendly and the atmosphere is extremely cosmopolitan and accepting on the face of things. Poverty was nonexistence (or at least not visible) and despite the dust and dirt from construction, the infrastructure was modern and clean. There is certainly far more development that can be done for tourism in terms of things to do and see and no doubt in the coming years this will be developed.
I hopped on my plane back to the UK pleased I had got to experience the development of Abu Dhabi and more specifically see the spectacle that is Dubai, but unlikely to return again for a visit unless I needed a stopover on the way to a country with more culture and less expensive forms of tourism. Or simply just to visit my friend Ben.