On Monday 10th April, my family and I set off on a 7 something hour plane journey to Abu Dhabi for a week. This holiday had been planned for a while, but I honestly had NO idea what to expect. Before this trip, I had never travelled to the Middle East and all I knew of the area is that the previously desert land is now filled with very expensive buildings and the police have sports cars. Abu Dhabi is a beautiful city with plenty activities from water-parks and Ferrari world, to more cultured outings to see such as local Mosques.
A little background into the city, all I did not know before going.
Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. It sits on an island in the Persian Gulf, completely unaware of this I was not expecting a beach holiday. It WAS a beach holiday, which was an incredible surprise used to its full potential in the 38 degree heat we were experiencing.
Many hotels are grouped together in an area called ‘Qaryat Al Beri’, which is where we spent most of our time. On the left here is a picture of a waterway made to connect them all and their ‘Souk’ (traditional Arabic Market), which was home to some amazing restaurants including ‘The Meat Company’. I am a girl serious about her burgers, and they had the best burger I had even eaten in my life.
As I said, we did spend most of our time in and around the hotel, therefore we didn’t really make the most of the area’s leisure activities. It’s pretty hard to want to spend all day at a water-park when it’s almost 40 degrees, being in the sun for more than 10 minutes at a time was difficult for me. So, really we were just at the beach and the pool. However, we did go to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (see below), which may be the most beautiful building I have ever seen and it will be getting its own blogpost. Along with a 3 hour trip to the desert on our last day.
If you do ever visit this amazing city, there are aspects of the culture that are extremely important to be aware of for both politeness, and your own safety:
1) Lots of women of the Muslim faith here cover their bodies in Burkas, even by the beach. Men also have traditional dress called a ‘thobe’. Of course, there are also people that choose not to dress traditional. However, many areas have strict rules about dressing “appropriately”, even shopping centres, usually meaning covering the legs and shoulders. Not obeying these rules could lead to being thrown out of areas and/or having people treat you disrespectfully. If you are planning to visit a Mosque these rules are very strict, but many places have some form of traditional dress available to borrow
2) No PDA (public displays of affection). This can include anything from kissing to holding hands. In extreme cases PDA in the wrong place could get you arrested, especially if you are not married. Just don’t do it
3) Homosexuality and sex before marriage are not legal in the UAE. Honestly, I’m pretty sure a hotel isn’t going to rat you out about this, but still keep your wits about you
4) Women are not regarded as equal here. I’m not saying you won’t have a lovely time and be treated absolutely superbly by staff of any areas you go to, but women should not walk by themselves at night and if you do wear a skirt at a shopping centre (like I did), you will get disrespectful looks
5) Mosques have calls to prayer often throughout the day and the could wake you up pretty early. They are pretty amazing though as they play out through the whole city and they don’t last longer than a few minutes
Well, that is my general Abu Dhabi post, there will be more coming on the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and our trip to the desert, but that’s all for now.