Wednesday, 30 April 2014


One set of guests weren't enough, our Danish friend Thomas arrived on Monday morning, for a quick 48-hour visit!

We took him (and Mormor and Morfar of course!) for lunch at one of our favourite places we have discovered so far, down in Al Bandar Marina - Ornina. It's a beautiful place to have lunch, and the food is pretty yummy too. This time I tried some gorgeous tapas, mmm!

In the evening, we made Thomas cook for us, as he does that so well!
We had a surf & turf themed kind of dinner, with lots of huge pork ribs...

 ... AND prawns and chicken with parma ham! Check this out!

Serious business this BBQing! It made for an absolutely fantastic dinner though, mmm!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The good thing with having visitors is that you get around a bit, and do some sightseeing. Explore our new home town, something we haven't really had time or excess energy to do before now. Today we took on a "must" here in Abu Dhabi - the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It's the eigth biggest mosque in the world, and the biggest in the UAE.
Prepare for a photo bomb!

This is outside the main area, before we had been downstairs to get our abayas (black dress). This was just before lunch time, so it was extremely hot outside, Mormor's eyes were watering.

This mosque was erected between 1999 and 2007. It was initiated by the first President of the United Arab Emirates, HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and his final resting place is located on the grounds.
It can accommodate 40,000 worshipers at once; on the inside the main hall can accommodate 7,000 and there are also two smaller prayer halls, that can take 1,500 each, one being the female prayer hall.

Not to worry if you don't know your "Mosque Manners", there is clothing to be borrowed. I knew that, so we hadn't even bothered wearing hot long sleeves and scarves. We just got it all sorted there - it's all part of the experience!

Taking photos incognito!

When constructing this mosque, they were using artisans and materials from many countries including Italy, Germany, Morocco, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Malaysia, Iran, China, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Greece and the UAE. The interior is a made-to-impress mix of marble, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics.
Here we have just come into the entrance to the mosque area itself:

Then we had to pass over the court yard. It's considered to be the largest example of marble mosaics in the world. It was so beautiful, and very white.

Time to take the shoes off:

Everything was just so beautiful, the floors, the walls, the windows, the lamps, the ceilings. Very tasteful and not "too much". The atmosphere inside the mosque was also beautiful, even though there was so many people, it was so serene and peaceful.

Entering in the mosque area itself, we could admire these crystal chandeliers. Four blue coloured chandeliers of similar design and size are located in the foyer entrances. The largest of them is weighing about 2 tons and it's located in the main foyer entrance.
All chandeliers are made from gilded stainless steel and gilded brass with approx. 40kg of 24 carat galvanized gold. Glass panels studded with Swarovski crystals are installed in all of them.

Bookshelves especially made for the Quran. These were created out of solid black American walnut with hand-cut and hand-laid Mother of Pearl and silver inlays. The intricate nature of this work required specialist craftsmen including 15 Moroccan wood crafters, 6 Indian Mother-of-Pearl specialists and 60 production staff.

This mosque is the home of some rather unique items.

This Persian carpet in the main prayer hall is considered to be the world's largest carpet, designed by Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi. It measures 5,627 sqm and was made by around 1,200 carpet knotters. It was a two year project from start to finish.
The carpet includes 25 natural colours an the raw material of these colours come from the roots, the peels and the branches of different kinds of trees and plants. Two different kinds of fine wool, brought from New Zealand and Iran, were used in the manufacturing of the carpet. Approx. 30 tons of wool and 15 tons of cotton were used.

The carpet is a reflection of the decoration on the roof, and the chandeliers are reflected in the weave and design of the carpet, absolutely awe inspiring.

It also has one of the biggest chandeliers in the world, weighing 12 tonnes and measuring 10 meters in diameter and 15 meters in height:

Beautiful windows:

The courtyard again:

The mosque features 4 minarets, 82 domes and over 1,000 columns:

Apparently it's extra beautiful in the evenings, with an especially designed lighting system which reflects the phases of the moon.

The design of the mosque can be best described as a fusion of Arab, Persian, Mughal and Moorish architecture.

The mosque is open for visitors every day of the week. A definite must if you are in the region!

A sand storm kind of school run

This morning when we woke up, we could hardly see the houses just next to us in the compound!
It was foggy and sandy outside, and only about 22 degrees. Very cool for this time of the year.

All the sand blowing around made for quite an interesting school run, lucky we know by now where we are going, and that we're not far away from school - because we couldn't see much at all..!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

A history of the world in 100 objects

Nathan was flying again last night, and after a quiet morning at home waiting for him to wake up, we did a a little bit of a drive-by sightseeing (it's very hot in the afternoons), around Saadyiat Island.

They have just opened a new exhibit at the Manarat Al Saadiyat, in collaboration with the British Museum - "A history of the world in 100 objects".

We weren't allowed to take any photos inside this exhibit, but it was quite superb. The story told spun two million years of human history. It told about our beginnings, the first cities, power and philosophy, ritual and belief; about trading and invading, innovation and adaptation and encounters and connections. It told us about the world of our making, and the world of today.
We got an opportunity to learn more about where we come from, and ultimately who we are. It was pretty cool.

We could take photos outside, in the rest of the museum. They had this funky chair sculpture..:

... and this very odd looking Porsche:

We also visited their exhibit about Saadyiat Island, and their vision and plans for the years ahead.

This place is going to be the cultural center of the region in just a few years time, with both the Guggenheim, the Louvre and the Zayed National Museum.

These exhibits were all free to visit. The "A history of the world in 100 objects" is on until the 1st of August, so if you are in the region, make a visit!