Abu Dhabi UAE

Visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Abu Dhabi is full of many great things to do and see. One thing that you must absolutely do when visiting is go to the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This Mosque is one of the few that allow non-Muslims inside. It is exactly as it’s name suggests, Grand!
Visiting the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque
Driving towards the Mosque you can’t help but notice it. It is huge and it’s beauty exudes itself. We took a taxi there. It is also very easy to get a taxi when you are ready to go. The Mosque is free to enter and walk around. The Grand Mosque as it is affectionately called, is open daily from 9am – 10pm. Friday’s mornings, tourist aren’t allowed in till 4:30pm. It is also closed on the first day of Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha.

Dress Code from the Sheikh Grand Mosque © 2015 HollyDayz
Dress Code from the Sheikh Grand Mosque © 2015 HollyDayz

Upon entering past the ropes I noticed a couple attempting to take a picture. The guard immediately stopped them. He told the man he had to take his arm from around his wife. I soon found out there is no hugging, kissing, or even a simple arm around the shoulder allowed there.
We then headed down an escalator and across a parking lot to get an abaya. Men can also get a kandourah, but it isn’t necessary. We had to have some form of ID in order to obtain these. They do not take passports, it can be a driver license or school ID. Your ID is slid into a book and they hand you a number. To obtain the abaya a woman looked me up and down and told me which rack to go to. I put on the abaya, which was very big. The hood to cover my hair, flopped over my head.
©2015 HollyDayz
©2015 HollyDayz

We headed back across the parking lot and up the escalator so we can begin walking around the beautiful architecture. There was so much beautiful to take in. There are walking guided tours that last 45-60 minutes, but we just walked around on our own.
Intricate Beauty ©2015 HollyDayz
Intricate Beauty ©2015 HollyDayz

Shelves for shoes outside prayer hall ©2015 HollyDayz
Shelves for shoes outside prayer hall ©2015 HollyDayz

We walked around taking in all the beauty. As we walked towards the main prayer hall people were sitting on benches. They were taking a break from walking, putting on, and taking off their shoes. In order to enter the main prayer hall shoes must be taken off and put on a shelf. The marble felt so cool under my feet, but we put on socks to walk around.
Beautiful carpet ©2015 HollyDayz
Beautiful carpet ©2015 HollyDayz

Inside the main prayer hall ©2015 HollyDayz
Inside the main prayer hall ©2015 HollyDayz

Walking inside the main prayer hall it is massive and can hold 7,000 of the 40,000 worshipers the Mosque can hold. The carpet is beautiful and is said to be the world’s largest carpet. There are also a handful of gorgeous colorful chandeliers. The chandeliers have millions of Swarovski Crystals. One of them is the second largest in a mosque and third largest in the world.
Chandelier ©2015 HollyDayz
Chandelier and 99 qualities ©2015 HollyDayz

There are marble columns all around that have mother of pearl inlaid in them. The 99 qualities of God (Allah) are on one wall written in Kufic. After walking around we decided to head back out to walk around some more. Putting our shoes on we continued to walk around. We saw some beautiful pools of water. Gorgeous next to the columns. There was also an area to wash your feet.
Beautiful columns and pool of water ©2015 HollyDayz
Beautiful columns and pool of water ©2015 HollyDayz

After walking around a bit longer we gave the abaya back and headed out. It was hard to walk away from The Grand Mosque. The intricate detail is amazing. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque truly is gorgeous and a must see when in Abu Dhabi!
Have you been to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque?

Abu Dhabi Dubai Tips of the Trade Travel UAE

What To Wear In Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Before heading over to the United Arab Emirates many people wonder what they should pack. Not only do you have to keep in mind the weather, but more importantly the cultural and religious aspect, as it is a Muslim country. The last thing you want to do is offend the locals. So here is some insight on what to wear in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
What To Wear In UAE  © 2015 HollyDayz
Dubai in particular, is the most lax of the seven emirates that form the United Arab Emirates. Still it is important to remain respectful. While I was there I saw many people who either weren’t aware or simply didn’t care what they wore. Your clothing could warrant unwanted attention or something being said to you by a local. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy an entire new wardrobe or dress like the locals.
Malls, Marina, and Souks
While walking around at The Dubai Marina I saw many tourists from all over wearing many different types of clothing. Some were covered up and others not so much at all. I wore a capped short sleeve shirt and capris that almost looked like pants. I also had a light jacket I kept wrapped around my waist in case it got a little too chilly.
At The Dubai Mall I wore jeans, a t-shirt, and a light jacket. Walking around with a tank top, short shorts, and tight clothing is frowned upon. Shorts should be at least down to the knee. Shoulders should also be covered. The same goes for men, who are better off wearing t-shirts rather than tanks.
In the winter months, taking light jackets or a long sleeve button up would do well. It also helps in the summer time when you are inside and the AC is blasting. I am not really a fan of short sleeves. I had both a light jacket and a button down shirt I used to cover up, as most of my shirts are tank tops.
One time I did take off my button down shirt at the gold souks. The area is bit more rundown and old. I didn’t get a bunch of stares, but I did get unwanted attention from one gentleman. As humid as it became, I put my button down right back on!
Pool, Beach, and Hotel
If you are headed to the pool, beach, or hanging out at your hotel your clothing choices are a bit more lax. Swimming trunks, one piece, and bikinis are allowed. They are however not allowed on the way to the pool or beach. You must be covered up at those times and not with a towel! Bring a coverup or some actual clothes. There are many locals walking around many hotels so keep that in mind.
Nightlight and Restaurants
Heading out to explore the nightlife allows for you to wear what you would normally wear out. Again just keep in mind where exactly it is your going and how your getting there. Restaurants will typically alert you to their dress codes. Most are casual or as they call it “smart casual.” You will see many Emiratis in their national dress, which is welcome everywhere.
Many mosques don’t allow non-Muslims, but there are a couple that do, including the very beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. As a woman, your arms, legs, and hair must be covered. I was completely covered and I still had to wear an abaya. I believe it was because my hair is long and was hanging down. My mom was also completely covered, only had to cover her hair with a shayla (headscarf) rather than wear an abaya. Abayas go over the clothes, and will be lent to you at the mosque.

Dress Code from the Sheikh Grand Mosque © 2015 HollyDayz
Dress Code from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque © 2015 HollyDayz

Men are to wear pants. No shorts! When entering the mosque shoes must come off. Clothing for both men and women must be conservative. If you aren’t comfortable walking around barefoot you can keep your socks on. There is also no intimacy allowed on the grounds. That includes kissing, hand holding, or even putting your arm around the opposite sex. I wouldn’t be too surprised if during Ramadan wearing anything to tight or short would be even more highly offensive.
Desert Safari
On a desert safari you can wear shorts and tank tops if you wish. Once the sun goes down it can get cold. When I went it was very cold! I had on long capris, sneakers, 2 shirts, and a fleece. I was still cold with all of that on! People wearing shorts weren’t too happy at that point. The summer months I’m sure are much warmer at night than in the winter. It is still good to bring at least a light jacket with you.
Ultimately it is your choice what you wear, but if you are going to travel to other countries with a conservative culture, then you should respect it.
How do you feel about the “dress code?”