Story by Jennifer Foran
Souks are the local shops. There are gold souks, pearl souks, clothing souks, and souks with little trinkets to bring back to the family. But my favorite is definitely the spice souk. All the different spices were in their respective barrel, creating a sea of different colors and aromas waiting to be chosen, brought home, and cooked.
As a coffee lover (some may even call me an addict), I felt right at home in the Emirates. Everywhere I went, I felt obligated to get some, as if with each cup I was learning more about the culture. Which is partially true. To the left is the cappuccino I got at the Emirates Palace, a ritzy hotel in Abu Dhabi. And yes, those are gold flakes sitting on the foam.
One thing I hadn’t really thought of much before coming to Abu Dhabi were the sunsets. But that is surely one of the best parts. They are absolutely stunning; the sun dances across the sky creating a show each evening for all of AD (how the locals and expats refer to Abu Dhabi). Below is one of my favorite sunsets from the Corniche (a boardwalk that stretches along the Persian Gulf) with the President’s Palace and the Emirates Palace in the background.
When telling my extended family of my trip to Abu Dhabi, the first response was always “Be careful,” because I was a female going to the Middle East. And I did have my reservations. Once I arrived, I was surprised at how western it is. As my visit progressed, I began to realize that my roommate was right. I felt more comfortable walking the streets of Abu Dhabi than I did back in New York. Another surprise was the extreme pride of the Emiratis. There were flags everywhere, on the cars, hanging from the apartment buildings, even painted on a building.
This place is huge, and by huge I mean HUGE. Did I mention that it’s huge? At full capacity this 180,000 square foot mosque can hold over 40,000 worshippers, it has 82 domes of seven different sizes and cost over 500 million USD to build. Its classic Islamic architecture is astonishing with something breathtaking around each corner and it is, without a doubt, the number one place to visit when in Abu Dhabi.
This story appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Baedeker.