I've always loved the sound of Abu Dhabi. Just the name of the city makes it seem more exotic, more far away and otherworldly, more like a mythical land from a fairy tale. We landed here as part of our film campaign with Andaz as our very first trip to the Middle East - an area of the world I am hoping to be able to explore so much more of over the next year. The city felt vibrant - a mix of old worlds and glittering new buildings. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque embodied that dichotomy perfectly - the ancient style in a building that was finished just 10 years ago.
The complex is glittering, ornate, decadent, and so beautiful - and so incredibly hot. The marble and tile floors burned our bare feet in the sun. I have very conflicting feelings about some religious sites that I continually wrestle with and have over the years. Where do your personal beliefs end and respecting a religion and a culture begin? I very strongly believe that any rules that differ on the basis of sex are wrong - but I also want to experience a culture to its fullest. But I couldn't help but be jealous of Brandon in his rolled up jeans and light tee-shirt in the 108 degree Arabian sun, while I sweltered in this (very beautiful) abaya.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai appear to be the melting pots of the Middle East - we met people here from seemingly every country in the region. We stopped in to this rug shop with our guide, and these men invited us to stay for tea - one came from Afghanistan and the other from Pakistan. Growing up American, so much of what you hear about these places are the negatives, but the reality is that most individuals don’t care for their country’s wars - similar to how I disagree with so much of what is happening in my country at the moment. Most people just want to live a good life with their families, no matter where in the world they happen to be born.
A visit to the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village, for a look into what the city used to look like before the rapid development.
And a stop at the fruit market - the mangoes here were some of the best I have ever tasted.
And to end, an afternoon at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. This museum is one of the most beautiful and unique buildings I have ever seen. The roof is designed to create the same dabbled lighting that comes through the traditional dried palm leaf roofs of the original marketplaces - and reminded us of walking through the Medinas in Marrakech, in a way that perfectly embodies the heritage of this ancient region, and the shiny, modern facades of it's new developments.