Even though we were exhausted, we decided to arrange for a four-hour tour of Abu Dhabi because we landed at midday, and were not scheduled to depart until the following morning. Our Saudi student, Jumana Zahid, was able to make those arrangements and to serve as our cultural interpreter.
|The mosque, viewed from the car.|
|L to R: Kamran Rathod, Jumana Zahid, Betsy Blosser, Abene Clayton, Nick Chiang, Ashley Habr, Sami Powell, Brian Favorite, Ivan Ho|
The nine of us were split between two cars. We went first to the mosque – now the third largest in the world. It was exquisitely beautiful – constructed entirely of white marble with colorful marble inlays and raised, carved flowers and vines on many walls! To go inside the mosque, the women needed to put on abayas. One of the men had to put on a long kaftan (?) because he was traveling in shorts. We were there on the day before Ramadan, and the mosque was preparing for broadcasting the Ramadan services. We enjoyed seeing the cameras – especially the one hung on cables over the large open patio within the mosque. It was truly a privilege to visit this mosque!
We stopped at a number of other places. One was a “handicraft” store with gorgeous marble inlay pieces, wall hangings embroidered in gold, handwoven silk carpets and other crafts. All of the items were made in the U.A.E.. I’m used to artisanry on the lower end of the price range; this was more like a museum. After that, we went into central Abu Dhabi to the Palace Hotel – an amazing structure from which we could view the skyscrapers of Abu Dhabi. Then we went to a city beach – a wonderful respite from the 102º weather. There was even a bit of wind. Our last stop was at a fruit and vegetable market – crowded because people were stocking up before Ramadan. There, the highlight was the amazing variety of dates for sale. I am used to dates that are soft - ours are probably overripe – but these were a bit crunchy and of different colors – red and yellow, as well as dark brown.
By that time, most of us were asleep sitting up, so we went back to the hotel. Some of the students had the energy to find the lounge. I was not one of them. The minute my head hit the pillow, I was out.