I have traveled more in this job than I have ever (even when working as a Management Consultant).
This time, my work took me to Abu Dhabi for a week-long work trip. It was a for an internal sales conference, where I was scheduled to speak on the 2nd day of the event.
For a majority of the week, I was busy networking and learning from the conference, but I did have some chances to get out an about to see Abu Dhabi.
I was able to see the grand mosque, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, a number of times. This was helped by the fact that the hotel we were staying at for the conference was directly across the road (albeit a 30 min walk) from the mosque. You could even see the mosque from the hotel:
The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the largest mosque in the UAE. Entrance to the mosque is free, and they provide garments to cover your body (especially as a woman) as you enjoy the mosque.
I viewed it first at night. The blue lighting you’ll see in the photos below actually change colors every night, so that it’s in line with the phases of the moon! I won’t lie, i really liked the blue
The second time I saw it, I actually watched it from across the road, next to the reflecting pool. Two of my coworkers and I went to watch the sunset rest behind the mosque, which was an absolute beauty.
The third and final time, I went during the day time, which is a TERRIBLE idea. UAE is hot, and being covered head-to-toe and in an extremely reflective place, it was a sweat pit of horror. But, it was still beautiful
In addition to viewing the mosque a lot, I also visited the sand dunes of UAE at night. My company hosted a ‘Night in the Desert’ dinner event, where we drove out to the middle of nowhere for 2 hours, got into RVs, drove through the sand dunes for ~20 mins, and landed in a pit dinner area
We had a dinner show + grilled dinner here, in the middle of what felt like no where
After the conference, my coworker and I took the bus to Dubai and spent 2 evenings exploring Dubai.
Let me start with this, UAE is so hot. We took the metro from the airport (where the bus had dropped us off at) to our hotel, where we had to walk 10 minutes outside to get to the hotel. In those 10 minutes, i thought i had died from heat. It’s extremely hot and humid, recipes for Alisha-failure. It’s still impressive that I have managed to survive summers in Shanghai.
After checking in, showering all of the sweat off, and taking a recovery nap, my coworker and I went to the Dubai Mall.
This place is ridiculous. There is such amount of wealth oozing out of everyone here, purchasing things I question ‘why?’. For example, MOST stores were selling freezing cold weather clothes
Many stores were pushing these items. The only thinking I had was that this was so Dubai-ians could show off their wealth, they have so much money that their house is so cold, and therefore they need this freezing weather clothes.
Or they were going to go skating at the indoor skate rink at the Dubai Mall
We walked around the mall a bit (did you know there were also giant waterfalls, a aquarium, and movie theater?)
We then decided to go outside to see the worlds largest building, the Burj Khalifa. It just happened that when we were walking outside, so was EVERYONE else for the hourly water and light show at the little man-made lake next to the Burj. It was packed, and you couldn’t see anything
After viewing the building from the outside, we decided to go up the Burj.
Somehow, we got put into a group with a bunch of russians on our way up to the top. I was not complaining because somehow our group was being escorted to pass everyone in line all the way to the top. We went from the bottom to the top in almost 10 minutes. That’s pretty impressive. There are 2 elevators you have to take, 1 takes you 80% of the way (and like 2 minutes long) and the 2nd which takes you to the 2nd highest floor. There is a higher floor, but a bit more expensive than I wanted to spend
The view was okay, everything was just small from the top. At one point, I didn’t realize we stepped outside and were on the balcony because it was just the same level of warmth as the inside.
At one point, I really had to use the toilet. So I was very excited to be the only person at the time to be using the highest toilet ever. I still am proud of my accomplishment
The next day, we woke up and headed to Alserkal Avenue, which reminds me a lot of M50 in Shanghai. Alserkal Avenue is this little enclave of warehouse buildings that have been converted to art galleries. We spent a good number of hours going from gallery to gallery. We also ate at Nightjar, which has AWESOME coffee.
Some of my favorite art:
After, we went to the Mall of Emirates so my coworker could go snowboarding indoors at Ski Dubai.
This was the weirdest thing in the world. You saw all of these people in snow clothes (probably shopping at Columbia) with snowboards heading towards Ski Dubai in the mall. It’s 34C outside the mall, and the Ski Dubai is at a toasty -4C.
Yes you read that correctly. They effectively changed the temperature by 38 degrees celsius. THINK OF THE AMOUNT OF AC USED!!!!
They even had penguins living at Ski Dubai (and yes i acted like a child when i saw them)
After that, we went back to our hotel to chill out for the rest of the evening before our flights home
Overall, UAE was cool. I saw a beautiful mosque, weirded out by the purchasing habits of Dubai-ins, and enjoyed really cool art.
Would I go back?
No. God no. There is not much to do, except shop and be hot. The dunes were cool, but not something I could see myself doing a lot. We didn’t check out the beaches, but I would expect them to be chokingly hot and uncomfortable.
I did really enjoy the mosque and Arsekal Avenue, and iw ould recommend it to anyone who loves architecture and art.
Until the next time