Inside, there is lavish attention to detail. Flowers inset into the marble floors,
The scale of the Mosque is fairly breathtaking and visiting was a fascinating experience - although I found its size overwhelming. It would be interesting to see whether, as it ages, it develops a patina like, say, the Taj Mahal. But sadly none of us will be around in 400 years to compare notes.
Inside, there are clothes shops, many jewellers, several souvenir shops and, my favourite, an emporium of spices, teas and dried fruit. I particularly loved the baskets outside - look how beautiful this display is.
I had a real wow-I'm-really-in-the-Middle-East-now moment when I peered at this (greyish, unappealing substance) and realised that it was frankincense. It smells (forgive me for any inappropriate smell-association) like all the incense burners of all the Catholic masses of my youth. When I looked into it, I discovered that frankincense is often used for incense in Catholic churches. So there it was - exotic and faintly nostalgic, all at the same time.
Apart from these two iconic experiences, I wandered around a little, taking in the newness of it all - both new to me and new in the sense that a great deal of downtown Abu Dhabi is very new.
I thought I'd hit upon an ancient monument when I saw this:
But sadly it was on a hoarding covering the building within and access to the actual fort is currently forbidden owing to building works.
So I called it a day and went back to my hotel to watch camel racing on tv and to marvel at the intricate and stylish ways in which the female tv presenters on the local and on the Saudi Arabian channels arrange their hijabs.