The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi: Photo Essay

February 23, 2012

Pulled over (illegally?) on the side of the road to behold the mosque in all its splendor

 One of the places you must see during a visit to the United Arab Emirates is the Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi.

 Liebling and I hopped into our rental car Tuesday morning and drove along the smooth, flat freeway that connects Dubai to its southwesterly neighbour Abu Dhabi. Approximately two hours later, we at the mosque and snapping pictures.  Here is a chronicle of our adventure.

I convince a reluctant Liebling, resident photographer, to be photographed.  He shockingly gives me a half-smile. Hell then proceeds to freeze over.

Other people see us pulled over to snap photos and proceed to do the same.
We enter the mosque. I am required to don a garment called an abbaya, as a show of respect and modesty while entering this holy place.

After a 15 minute wait, we are allowed to enter the mosque.
The architecture and attention to detail is stunning.  I loved the tiles in the courtyard.
We enter the interior.  It is vast and opulent.
I continue to be astounded by the attention to detail- check out this light fixture!

Here, you can see the all the archways and domes that make us the interior.  The symmetry and structure is mind-boggling.

Disregard the dry, ashy feet.  What I mean to show you is the carpet.

Me in my abbaya.

A coy smile for the masses.

Back outside, I wander in the covered lane that stretches along the sides of the mosque.

The sun is high now that most of the visit is over. The contrast between the sky and the mosque is striking.

Liebling manages to snap my photo when I’m not looking.

One more panorama shot.

I am in love with the archways!

What did you think of this mosque?  Have you ever visited a mosque before?  And ladies, how would you feel about donning an abbaya in order to enter?

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Adina Marguerite February 23, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Every photo was so gorgeous! The architecture and that plaza! Amazing! I wouldn't mind one bit wearing the abbaya in order to enter such a beautiful space, nothing wrong with showing a little respect for other cultures and beliefs. :-)

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Nailah February 23, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I didn't get to visit this Mosque when I was in Dubai, but I did go to the one in Oman which looks quite similar (interior). I was blown away by the size and the adornments on the walls floors and ceilings. So majestic. PS Love the close up pictures inside the mosque!

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caribbelle February 23, 2012 at 10:44 pm

This is one of the places that I plan to visit one day. All of the meticulous detailing and vast architecture has it high on my list. Living vicariously through you and nicole right now. Can't wait till I graduate!!

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Britni of Trippin' on the Weekend February 23, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Wow, AMAZING pics Oneika. You are definitely my travel role model….I need to get like you. Quickly!

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Rooney February 23, 2012 at 11:38 pm

what a beautiful mosque, I love the photos and your cute abaya ( I'm muslim so I own a few )!! P.S what kinda camera do you use? I'm curious as I'm looking to buy a travel camera soon when I get my annual tax refund soon.

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Rhona February 24, 2012 at 1:37 am

stunning pictures Oneika. I am in love. i cannot believe how pretty that mosque is. great pictures. i have never been to a mosque or donned abbaya but i am will just to see that place!! btw you look great.

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caribbelle February 24, 2012 at 3:03 am

Also wanted to add, I've been to quite a few mosques before and I have no objection to wearing an abbya or any covering I'm required to wear. I wouldn't dare to offend anyone, especially since I'm the visitor.

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eccentricyoruba February 24, 2012 at 3:15 am

I love these pictures. I was in Dubai last year but did not get to visit Abu Dhabi. You look absolutely beautiful in the abaya. And I respect you for not having any qualms with wearing it. Like Rooney I own a few abaya.

I have no problem with respecting local customs especially when visiting sacred places. For example a lot of temples in Japan require you to remove your shoes before entering. While I had no problem walking barefoot into a temple, a few tourist disregarded this rule. It should not be so hard to respect local customs when you're a visitor and it's only temporary.

Also I would have thought Liebling would be required to wear a caftan as well.

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Carrie February 24, 2012 at 3:48 am

Wonderful architecture!. I would wear the abbaya in order to show respect for the religious culture…especially when I am 'oogling' as a tourist. I think I just made that word/spelling up…Forgive me Lord.
Im headed to Istanbul in a few months…I hope to be amazed by more beautiful places….

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raven February 24, 2012 at 4:15 am

gorgeous photos!..I would not mind wearing the abaya. I believe in respecting the culture of the place/people and as long as I am not compromising my beliefs

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john February 24, 2012 at 4:38 am

Wow…that mosque looks absolutely incredible – unlike anything I've ever seen! I love your photos too.

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Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 8:46 am

The beauty of the mosque is beyond words. Stunning, striking, amazing, just doesn't cut it. I am not sure the words are yet in our vocabulary to sum up the beauty of it. That was two hours of travel that was definitely well worth it. Did Liebling take all the photos? if so, he is an exceptional photographer.

Jules

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Crystal February 24, 2012 at 9:52 am

Just wow! Each photo was a treat for the eyes. The contrast in all the colours was so striking. I definitely want to get there one day myself.

SOunds like an amazing trip so far. Can't wait to hear more :)

Bises!

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kimvan February 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm

beautiful…looks like you are living it up

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Margaret Antkowski February 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm

This is a stunning mosque. All the craftsmanship that has gone into making it a beautiful place of worship. I agree with Crystal – photos are a treat for the eyes.

As for wearing the abbaya, not much different than having to wear no shorts skirts or tops that expose too much skin when visit St. Peter's Basilica or any other cathedral. It's respectful.

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Oneika February 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I actually enjoyed wearing it. I think its so pretty!

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Oneika February 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Just stunning. The attention to detail is so so cool.

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Oneika February 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I feel the same way! I am the intruder, so its up to me to adjust to cultural norms.

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Oneika February 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Aww thanks chicky!! You REALLY need to come back to London!!

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Oneika February 24, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Cool! I think they are such elegant garments!! Would love to get one made. We use two cameras: the Lumix LX5 and the Canon 600D (which is what all the photos in this post were taken with)!

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Oneika February 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Thanks lady!! I believe there's a HUGE newer mosque in Brampton/Bramalea- I would love to go check it out when Im back in town!

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Oneika February 24, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I thought he would have to, too, but men went in dressed as they pleased! There were a few tourists in caftans, but I think they brought them themselves as we didnt see any being given out. Would have loved to see L in one though!

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Oneika February 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Haah you are not making up that word, I know it and love it!! We went to Istanbul last year and it was just as stunning. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia are so cool!

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Oneika February 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm

I feel the same!!

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Oneika February 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Thanks so much John!

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Oneika February 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Indeed he did!! He got a new cam so has been more keen on taking photos… And I am always a willing subject! I told him that you liked his photography and he was chuffed!

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Oneika February 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Girl, wait til you get to Thailand! The colours, sights and sounds will just bowl you over! I cant wait to see your pics!!

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Oneika February 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm

heehe trying!!

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Oneika February 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I agree it's a question of respect and get annoyed at the tourists who blatantly disregard the rules! Coincidentally, there were tons of Russian tourists at the mosque the same time we were there and many of them were inappropriately dressed!

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Chinye February 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm

The photos are absolutely stunning! You should submit the photograph of you infront of the Mosque wearing the abbaya into a contest…it is honestly that beautiful!

I would definitely respect customs and traditions by wearing an abbaya. Refusing to do so in my opinion defeats the purpose of traveling to experience a new culture in the first place. Experiencing something new should feel like something you've never done before, and refusing to follow the rules just seems like you're not open. I'm all about respecting culutures because I like mine respected!

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shiningsolace February 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm

That mosque is breathtaking! The architecture and tiles are gorgeous. I haven't visted a mosque before, but I would love to in the future. I wouldn't mind wearing an abbaya at all. I feel that you should respect another culture's customs while visiting a country. Plus, I would just be honored that they would let me take pictures and be able to enter in the first place!

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Andi of My Beautiful Adventures February 25, 2012 at 2:17 am

Absolutely gorgeous!!!!!!!!!!! I wouldn't have been able to stop taking pictures.

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Jorden W February 25, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Absolutely beautiful. I think it is important to respect any culture and therefore I would be happy to wear a abbaya.

I love the mix of colours, stunning.

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withinireland February 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I was just going to ask YOU what you felt like wearing the traditional cover. When I was in Morocco, I wish that I had that. I would have felt much more comfortable, if not overly hot. Temperature hot.

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Emily in Chile February 26, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Amazing pictures! What a beautiful place. And this is totally off-topic, but is your dress from H&M relatively recently? If so, I got the same one in Dec :)

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Oneika February 28, 2012 at 4:56 am

You have a good eye! I did! I love H&M! Got it in Hong Kong sometime last spring!

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Oneika February 28, 2012 at 4:57 am

I absolutely loved wearing it! I think it's really classy and a great way to stay cool and protected from the sun at the same time!

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Oneika February 28, 2012 at 4:57 am

I actually had to consciously stop so I could take in the ambiance of the place properly!

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Oneika February 28, 2012 at 4:57 am

I love the contrast of the colours as well! Respect is key when you're visiting a new place!

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Oneika February 28, 2012 at 4:58 am

I agree with your sentiment at feeling honoured! This is a holy place and as I'm not of the Muslim faith, I'm just appreciative that they let me in so I could have the experience!

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Oneika February 28, 2012 at 4:59 am

Thanks! My compliments to L who took the picture… Maybe we should think about submitting it somewhere! Yes, you are totally right, refusing to abide by the rules is just silly and smacks of close-mindedness!

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Kanika Ameerah March 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Wow…The Grand Mosque is stunning!

As for me- I have visited a mosque twice before cos my father was Muslim (however I was raised by my Agnostic mom). First time was back in 1999…My father and stepmom took me there. Second time was back in October for my father's funeral. I wore a head covering both times and it really wasn't a big deal…No different than wearing a scarf to protect your hair. Even though I am not a Muslim myself, I knew that Islam was important to my father and his family and I wanted to respect that. I feel that too many westerners do not make an effort to respect Islam.

As for the abbaya- I'd totally rock it with no problem. I prefer loose, modest clothing and it looks stylish enough that I might even wear it outside the mosque….Only concern would be that Dubai is hot and well…black absorbs heat lol.

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nicole is the new black March 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm

wow the pictures are amazing. i planned to go to abu dhabi in 2007 and never went. i might have to put it back on my list, so beautiful!!

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mary June 12, 2013 at 9:59 pm

This is by far my favorite post. I dream of one day visiting India and all these beautiful places.

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Veena S. November 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Great photos, clear thoughtful writing, a great heart-mind to keep travelling!
We have recently moved to Abu Dhabi and live close to the Grand mosque. A visit is due certainly. I would love to don the Abeya, a wonderful photo opportunity whilst respecting the local culture. Something different, than the daily Saree or Salwar suit I wear.
I’ve recently begun a blog about fresh market narratives as I travel the world and delight in the senses.
http://walktomarket.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/singapore-replacing-the-5cs-at-the-wet-market/

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George Vent November 27, 2013 at 10:53 pm

This is Very huge and beautiful mosque :) really you made my day miss… and those painting or architecture….
Thanks for posting and can you post more pics in your posts.

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MySuitcaseDiary November 15, 2014 at 11:41 pm

Nice place have visited one time, but was unable to get in, hope next time will have more luck.

http://www.mysuitcasediary.com

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