On our second full day in the Middle East (Thursday), we took a tour to Abu Dhabi. The drive across the desert was uneventful. What stood out was the vastness of the desert. Baron. Lifeless. However, when we enter the Emirates of Abu Dhabi, there were green trees lining the highway. More life amid the vastness. As we approached the city, it seemed to all of us, that the resonance was very different here. Our tour guide explained that Abu Dhabi, the largest Emirates among the seven Emirates still has a massive supply of oil so it’s development remained "local" while Dubai’s development became foreign. There is a clear sense that Abu Dhabi has mainly local residents — Emirati. However, currently Abu Dhabi is following Dubai’s map and tourism is on the rise. And again, the biggest, the best, the first are the key words.
We had lunch at the Emirates Palace Hotel. It was built in 2002 and it was the most expensive hotel ever built. The room rates more or less begin at $1,000.00 USD per day and can reach $25,000.00 to $30,000.00 USD per day. Insane. But the buffet lunch that caters to tourists was delicious.
We then went to the Grand Mosque. It truly is grand and majestic. Powerful. The white marble with its floral inlaid design and the jeweled chandeliers, made the Mosque so light with such radiant beauty. It was stunning. Breathtaking. It’s grandeur captured the light of spirit and the religious experience transcends organized religion. It was a divine place regardless of what name you give divinity.
It happens to be the 7th largest Mosque in the world. The first and second largest ones are in Mecca. It also has the largest hand woven rug in the world; over 1000 people worked on it. I couldn’t help but thinking of the Lemuria women working weaving magic at a Lemurian Festival. Such magic still unfolds. The Mosque however is new. It was built in 2007.
Enrique and I had seen Mosques in the Andalusian region of Spain when we were there last March-April. They are build of regional stone and mostly in the Gothic style. Dark. Closed in. But not gloomy. They were also majestic in a different way. They were also rich with history and with tradition. They were build for the purpose of worship and to express gratitude. There was the sense of divinity and that sense was mixed with something that I call regal. I think I appreciated the depth of those Mosques more than the radiant light of the Grand Mosque.
We returned to Dubai, took a nap, and then headed out to dinner at the At.Mosphere Restaurant in the Burja Khalifa. It is the tallest building in the world and on the 123rd floor there is a fabulous restaurant with amazing views of the Dubai. We had a window table. We sat down to dinner at 9:15 and after an elegant evening we left the restaurant close to 1:00 a.m. Our waiter, Bruno from Croatia — 80% of the people in Dubai are expats – was amazing. We won’t forget his name nor the quality of the service. This dinner was one of the highlights of our time in Dubai.
Friday was our quiet do-nothing day. We did nothing. It was too hot –114 degrees. We packed and got ready to go the airport. Our flight from Dubai to Trivandrum, India left at 2:50 a.m. (early Saturday morning). We would arrive in India at 8:45 a.m. Saturday, September 15.
So we said goodbye to Dubai. I am glad we stopped for a few days. Had never been and I wanted to see and to feel the place. However, I wouldn’t return. It feels too man-made with too little green. It’s progressive and inventive, innovative, even, but it’s not a place that I would like to vacation. So, goodbye.
More to follow.