Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Visiting friends

I met Natia through this blog. We have a lot in common and have written and talked for some time now, modern day pen pals. Natia is from Tbilisi in Georgia, a very beautiful place I hope to visit one day soon. Natia and her friend Nana came to visit a week or so ago and I had the privilege of showing them some of the sights of Abu Dhabi.

I love showing people around, especially showing them places I've been saving to show to visitors. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of those places, it is spectacular. For more information read and follow the links below, the photos show just some of the wonderful architecture. We had to wear abaya in the mosque and cover our heads, all part of the experience for us. It was interesting how much part of the experience it was.

There is an anonymity in wearing a cover the same as everyone else, sort of a uniform but one that covers all except the face. Many woman also cover this, with just their eyes visible. Working here in close proximity to the local ladies, you get to know them with only subtle clues. The henna design on their hands, their handbags and shoes, the design of their abaya and most importantly their eyes. We have discussions about this with our local friends, in depth discussions on what it's like to be a Muslim woman, an Arabic woman, and the perceptions of the west on what that's like. Inaccurate perceptions at times.

Back to Natia and Nana. We wandered around taking photos, enjoying the peace of this place, a peace undisturbed by the amount of people present. The marble shone in the sunlight reflecting light and highlighting the amazing patterns etched, carved or inlaid into the various types of marble. We wandered until we were hungry then met with another friend for a late lunch. Many photos were taken, including some in sombreros while eating Mexican.

It was wonderful to finally meet Natia in person, an added bonus getting to meet Nana too. I need to plan a holiday to their part of the world world very soon.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Information
The majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is probably the most imposing religious and national landmark in Abu Dhabi to date. It is also arguably one of the most important architectural treasures of contemporary UAE society - and one of the most beautiful in the world - initiated no less by the late president HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who is fondly thought of as the father of the UAE.

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