October 20, 2013

Sand dunes, camels and a mosque: my photo essay of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is one of the 7 United Arab Emirates and about an hour and a half’s drive up the multi-lane racetrack of a motorway from Dubai.

If you fly Etihad this is where you’ll stopover. I spent 3 days here and here’s a glimpse of what we did…

Abu Dhabi

You get the feeling in Abu Dhabi that buildings are embellished with so many extras just because there’s too much money left over!

One of the best things to do is book a desert safari with some crazy 4WD dune bashing, a visit to see some baby camels then, stopping on the sand dunes for sunset then dinner in a replica bedouin camp complete with henna tattoos and belly dancing.

Abu Dhabi sand dunes tyres

Letting the air out to get ready for the craziest driving I’ve ever experienced!

Abu Dhabi dune bashing

After roaring over razor-edged sand dunes and driving sideways through the sand the engines need a breather!

Abu Dhabi camel farm

We came upon this camel farm where all the big girls were gathered around a trough of straw and their babies were trying to figure out who was mum

Abu Dhabi baby camel

Probably not the safest place to sit

Abu Dhabi bedouin camp

The bedouin camp where you sit on cushions at low tables around the dance floor and eat barbecued lamb, chicken and beef kebabs with heaps of salads, bread and hummus. Delicious!

Abu Dhabi henna tattoo

My henna tattoo (which is still on 10 days later!) done by the belly dancer

Abu Dhabi harbour

A visit to the Historic Village gives and insight into Abu Dhabi’s brief history and a chance for these great views back to the city

Abu Dhabi historic village

And the chance to buy cloth and fetching souvenirs from the local women.

Abu Dhabi view from Sofitel

The view from my room at the Sofitel over the endless construction of this booming city in the desert

Abu Dhabi mosque

Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the 8th largest in the world and the largest in the UAE. Built in 2004 it cost US$500 million and can hold 40,000 for prayers.

Abu Dhabi mosque manners

The dresscode is posted at the entrance and full abiyas are available at no cost for women

Abu Dhabi mosque female ablutions

Before prayers on Fridays this is the women’s ablution block

Abu Dhabi mosque wall detail

The exterior wall detail is incredible

Abu Dhabi mosque carpet

This carpet was made in Iran by 1200 women, measures over 60,000 sq feet and weighs 35 ton. It’s made from New Zealand wool and has 2,268,000,000 knots taking about 2 years to complete

Abu Dhabi mosque marble floor

The marble floor detail is another amazing detail

Abu Dhabi swarovski chandelier

One of the 7 chandeliers imported from Germany with millions of Swarovski crystals

Take a taxi (they’re cheap here – probably because fuel is about 60c a litre!) to the Grand Mosque because it really is worth visiting.

For more details about the Arabian Desert Safari, click here to Expedia’s booking page.

About Megan Singleton

Megan

Megan Singleton is a travel writer, blogger and radio correspondent. She's been gallivanting around the world telling stories for the last 16 years and has her suitcase always half packed (or half un-packed!) Follow along on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for monthly newsletters if you want to keep up with the journey!

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