DUBAI - Day Trip to "The Mosque" in Abu Dhabi


I recently visited The Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the largest mosque in The United Arab Emirates and the eighth largest mosque in the world. It is named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president and the founder of the United Arab Emirates.

This mosque was completed in 2007 and has now opened it's doors for visits from the public since 2008. There are tours for Muslims and non Muslims every day except Fridays, from 9am to 12 noon.

The design of the Mosque is a fusion between Arab, Moor and Mughal architecture. It has 82 domes, 4 minarets and a capacity for 40,000 worshipers. It's also built almost entirely of white marble and it has the largest carpet and chandelier in the world. The carpet, made by 1,200 weavers in Iran, is 60,570 feet long and weighs 47 tons. The (largest)chandelier(s) imported from Germany is 35 feet in diameter and 49 feet in height. It is covered in copper and it's gold plated.

To get there, you must travel either by bus or by hired taxi. The bus to Abu Dahbi, is an easy one hour and thirty minute ride from the downtown main bus station in Dubai and it drops you off almost across the street from the mosque. Be sure to tell the driver ahead to let you know which stop is yours, for the bus makes several stops along the way.

From this drop off point, hail a taxi to take you across the highway to the entrance of the mosque. For your return, get another taxi from the mosque to take you to the main bus station in Abu Dahbi. Buses leave from the station every 15 minutes for Dubai. The are comfortable and the price is approximately 10 Dirhams for a one way ride. (four dollars). Take a pashmina or a sweater for the ride, for it can get chilly with the AC.

I did not do the taxi ride, but I'm sure, the concierge can give you prices and information for this option.

My experience, the place was amazing! I had no idea how beautiful and serene a mosque could be. It's a huge structure, all covered in gleaming white marble with paved floors with a design of colored marble flowers. Exquisite inside and out. The minarets, columns and domes are decorated with 24 kt gold details that shine in the sun. It's a grand place not just for one to see, but for one to experience. Get there early if you can, so you can have the place to yourself. Later, the tour buses will arrive with their respective human cargo and they will crowd the mosque and interrupt the peace of the place.

Bring your camera and a cover for your head so you wont have to borrow the black Abayas and head pieces required for women to enter the mosque. Or, don't bring one and get to try an Abaya for fun and pictures.

There is no entrance fee for the mosque or rental fee for the Abayas, but please remember to be respectful at all times, for this is a place of worship for the locals.

DUBAI - Great Beaches and Cafes at "Marina Walk"


In Dubai, there's an area in Jumeirah Beach that has the same feel and look as Ocean Drive in South Beach, Florida. It's a pedestrian mall lined with fantastic outdoor cafes and small boutiques located right across the street from gorgeous emerald beaches. The place is called Marina Walk.

This area caters mostly to foreigners and it has a very European feel. Also, there is something going on there at all hours of the day. You can visit in the am for an outdoor breakfast by the sea or at mid-day for a nice al-fresco lunch and a dip in the sea. At sunset hours it's particularly beautiful and at night, the place is full of people and it rocks!

To go to the Marina Walk, take a cab to the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah. It's located right on Marina Walk. Each way will cost approximately 45 Dirhams (about 13 dollars) and the ride will take about 20 minutes.

A second option is to take the new Dubai Metro from the nearest station to your hotel, to the Emirates Mall Station (or to the Marina Walk Station if its' already opened, not ready when I wrote this). From there, take a short cab ride to the Jumeirah Beach Hilton on Marina Walk.

Bring your bathing suit, some sun screen, your camera and enjoy the beach!

ps- You can't change into your bathing suit at the beach because it's against the law, but you can go to the Starbucks across the street and change in one of their bathrooms in the second floor like I did.


DUBAI - Lemonade with Mint


Have you ever tried Lemonade with mint? it's a Middle Eastern treat. In Dubai, you can get one pre-made from Starbucks. It's delicious and very refreshing.

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