It has been a pretty relaxing and hot first few days in Abu Dhabi. On Saturday morning, with the mercury inching above 100F, a fellow teacher and I headed out to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Emirates Palace Hotel. The Mosque is magnificent. They offer free tours in the mornings for visitors, which is a treat because most mosques are not open to the public. This is the first close up view as we approached the visitor’s area:
Visitors are expected to dress modestly as per Islamic customs and women are asked to cover their hair. The Mosque actually provides women with an appropriate outfit to wear. The abaya and sheyla are the national dress of the UAE for women. My companion and I and about 30 other tourists crammed into a very small and very hot room to dress (just put the abaya on over our own clothes). We then joined the men for our tour.
The tour was very informative and the Mosque is absolutely stunning. Here are some photos:
After our visit to the Mosque we headed to the Emirates Palace Hotel, it is a pretty over the top place. I’d recommend looking at some professional pictures of the hotel, I didn’t really get anything worth sharing. Well, I got one good picture, of a gold vending machine. I knew they had them, I just didn’t know I’d get to see one so soon.
The Palace Hotel is also famous for their high tea (which I hope to do sometime) and has a great exhibit of the Abu Dhabi 2030 plan (click here for a short video of the 2030 plan).
I spent the afternoon at the hotel’s pool, relaxing and trying to help my body adjust to the heat (which was about 117F with humidity).
Sunday is the beginning of the work week in the UAE and was my first “official” day of work. We had our orientation. The orientation was pretty basic: receive housing information, sign up for bank account and submit passport to process for visa and resident ID. I found out that I will be living in Al Ain, which is an oasis city near the border of the UAE and Oman. I am very excited about moving out to Al Ain. I think it will allow me the cultural and social experiences that I was hoping for while living in the UAE. There are tons of historical places to visit as well! Tomorrow (Tuesday) we get to go see our apartments.