Before you ask, no, I didn’t race any cars (unfortunately). I was only able to stay in Abu Dhabi for two days before I had to head back to the states, so I’m calling it a speed tour due to limited time. If you’re interested in architecture I would say to explore Abu Dhabi for sure. There are many incredibly unique skyscrapers and religious buildings scattered across the city for everyone to find.
For this trip, we chose to stay in an Airbnb since it was the cheapest option. We actually ended up staying in a penthouse very close to the Grand Mosque and had a fantastic view of it from the apartment. After taking the bus from Dubai (a quick hour and twenty minutes) we dropped our things off at the Airbnb and ran over to the mosque for the sunset. After getting through security and putting an abaya (loose robe worn by Muslim women) over my clothing, we entered the mosque. The Grand Mosque, also known as the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, was finished in 2007 and is the largest mosque in the country. It is an absolutely breathtaking structure as it is almost entirely white against the bright blue sky. We took our time strolling around the mosque as the sun went down while listening to the call to prayer.
Day two of Abu Dhabi, we toured the Louvre. The Louvre Abu Dhabi had just opened within the previous few months with the museum having purchased the right to be associated with the ‘Louvre’ name for over 500 million dollars. Additionally, the museum had paid millions of dollars to exchange artwork, so that they could have exhibits that would attract the same amount of people that the Louvre in Paris attracts. To me the most impressive aspect of the museum was the architecture (very fitting for Abu Dhabi). The roof of the building looks almost like a nest with intricate metal works overlapping to create shade over the outdoor walking areas and restaurant. The outside walls sank right into the clear water with sharp edges proving how dramatic their designers were. After checking out all the artwork, we ate lunch in the restaurant out back. Their food was good, but the views were even better because it overlooked the water and the city skyline. If you want a cheaper option, pack a lunch to eat at some of the benches right outside of the Louvre for a view of the building and the water too!
Bring conservative clothing with you everywhere. You never know where you’ll end up that may be slightly more conservative. Better safe than sorry in Abu Dhabi because you run the risk of getting asked to leave. I personally enjoyed wearing a scarf around my head because it helped keep the sun off my face, and you don’t draw as much attention to yourself.
Always have a little bit of cash on you. On our way home we were planning on taking the bus again, but our driver on the way to the station overheard our conversation then offered to drive us all the way back to Dubai for payment in cash. You never know when you’ll need it!
Bring shoes that are comfortable, but easy to slip on and off. At the mosque you have to remove your shoes to be able to walk around. Many people spent minutes trying to find a place to sit to take their shoes off, so slip ons are ideal for touring religious sites.