Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque
Of all the ‘tourist sites’ in Abu Dhabi, the single most impressive is undoubtedly the ‘Sheikh Zayed Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque’ just outside of town. Still bling and ostentatious, its true, the things that drive me nuts about the Emirates. At the same time, though, what seems absurd on a private building somehow transforms to beautiful in a place of worship.
As a symbol it sort of works, too, with architectural influences drawn from across the Muslim world as a way to ‘tie together the world of Islam’ in one tidy and beautiful package.
It isn’t a complete ideal, of course, as visitors are restricted to a certain prescribed corridor through the mosque with no deviation or exploration allowed.
Even without entering the proscribed areas, though, there is plenty pretty and photogenic to see.
Of all the ‘tourist sites’ in the UAE, in fact, this would probably be the one I’d most recommend visiting. Its pretty, intercultural, and one of the most interesting and pleasant physical spaces in the country.
I visited the Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque primarily as a photographer working with GetYourGuide on one of their guided tours and then a quick bus tour. You could visit the Grand Mosque on your own, but to be honest the public transport network is somewhat cumbersome and slow (especially if you want to go anywhere outside of the city center). Taxis are relatively cheap, so if you’re only heading out to the Grand Mosque that may be the best option. If you want to visit Yas and Saadiyat Islands as well, the guide/bus tours may be a better option. Otherwise, consider a guidebook to get bus info straight.