14

Z – ZAYED | #AtoZChallenge

Z – Zayed | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Wherever you are in Dubai or in fact, the whole of UAE you are bound to come across one name – Zayed or Sheikh Zayed. Everything, from roads to hospitals, from malls to mosques, from universities to airports and from monuments to museums has been named after him and you can see his portraits proudly displayed. He is popularly known as ‘Father of their nation’ and last year Dubai, along with UAE, celebrated the ‘Year of Zayed’.

The year 2018 marked 100 years since the birth of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the UAE, who passed away in 2004. His son and President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, had declared that 2018 will officially be known in the UAE as the Year of Zayed – to commemorate this historic national occasion.

Sheikh Zayed always promoted and encouraged multicultural diversity and is evident from the ‘open-door-open-culture’ policy at various monuments including the Grand Mosque and Jumeirah Mosque. Consistent with his values the Year of Zayed involved people of all ages, nationalities, faiths and backgrounds in the UAE and internationally. During his reign, he was considered one of the most liberal rulers and leaders among leaders of all the Gulf countries.

The Year of Zayed had the following vision and mission:

Vision: A year-long, international commemoration in celebration of the life, legacy and values of an inspirational world leader, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the United Arab Emirates.

Mission: Commemorate the life, values and achievements of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan as an inspirational world leader, encouraging future generations to honor his legacy and fulfill his vision of prosperity, tolerance and peace.

It theme of the “Year of Zayed’ revolved around the values of wisdom, respect, sustainability and human development.

The ‘Year of Zayed’ did not only have domestic reach but it was very well recognized worldwide. British Museum named a gallery after Sheikh Zayed to acknowledge the UAE leader’s lifelong commitment to heritage and culture. The main street in Beirut, capital of Lebanon, was named after the late leader. Stockholm Mosque, in Stockholm, Sweden is also known as Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s Mosque.

There are many things named after him in UAE to commemorate his legacy. The Sheikh Zayed road is the most important road in Dubai as it serves as a lifeline to the whole of Dubai and further connects Sharjah-Dubai-Abu Dhabi. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a modern wonder of the world. Zayed University, a government-sponsored higher education institution with campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

He is often referred to as ‘the man who turned the desert green’. I have a twist to this, for me, he is the man ‘who turned the sand of the desert into gold’.

What you see of Dubai and UAE today and their importance whether it is in tourism or export-import or oil exports, it can all be attributed to their wonderful leadership. I believe no place on Earth has seen so much transformation in the last century where a generation in their life went from being poor nomads to creating the world’s tallest structures.

I would like to end this post and this challenge based on my theme – ‘Dubai – City of Gold’ by quoting some of my favorite quotes from Sheikh Zayed.

The real asset of any advanced nation is its people, especially the educated ones, and the prosperity and success of the people are measured by the standard of their education.

Wealth is not money. Wealth lies in men. This is where true power lies, the power we value. This is what has convinced us to direct all our resources to building the individual, and to using the wealth, which God has provided us in the service of the nation.

Islam affords women their rightful status and encourages them to work in all sectors, as long as they are afforded appropriate respect.

No matter how many buildings, foundations, schools and hospitals we build, or how many bridges we raise, all these are material entities. The real spirit behind the progress is the human spirit, the able man with his intellect and capabilities

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone who has been a part of this journey. This was the first time I was attempting this challenge and that too with two themes. I am elated and relieved both at the same time that I could reach the finish line. To all those who became friends on this journey called life – Welcome aboard! To others my heartfelt wishes for your future endeavors and a biiigggg hug.

I will forever cherish this experience of pursuing my passion with patience and persistence.

For all those who were part of this wonderful journey,

For all those who believe in women equality,

For all those who live in the city of Dubai,

And

For all those who believe in the vision of Sheikh Zayed…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 26th and last post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

16

Y – Yas Island | #AtoZChallenge

Y – Yas Island | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

The previous post discussed the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and I highlighted that try to club your trip with other attractions across the city. Well, let me today take you to one such place where you will get multiple options across all interest levels. I am talking about the best place in Abu Dhabi – Yas Island.

Yas Island is an island in Abu Dhabi – multipurpose leisure, entertainment and shopping center. It was started in 2006 by Abu Dhabi based Aldar properties and is spread across a staggering 25 sq km. It is one of the most astounding manmade wonders and on days it feels as if both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are in a race to outwit each other that which one will come up with a more opulent island.

If you truly want to experience the best of Abu Dhabi, then head to Yas Island. It is about a 40-min drive away from the city center. I already gave you a glimpse of the adventurous side of Yas Island through the Ferrari World. Read the full post here.

Top attractions and places to visit on Yas Island.

Warner Bros. Abu Dhabi

As the name suggests, it is a Warner Bros. characters based adventure theme park. Everyone wanted to get an insider look on what it is like to live like a superhero – this park lets you do exactly that. You can unleash the superhero in you and get to relive those childhood fantasies through its six different zones – Warner Bros. Plaza, Metropolis, Gotham City, Cartoon Junction, Bedrock and Dynamite Gulch.

Yas Marina Circuit

Yas Waterworld

In continuation with adventurous theme parks, let me take you to something totally unique – Yas Waterworld. It is the best waterpark in UAE along with Aquaventure in Dubai. The most impressive feature of the park is its theme – ‘The Legend of the Lost Pearl’ that pays tribute to the Emirati heritage of Pearl Diving, usually water parks aren’t theme based.

Thanks to its 45 exhilarating slides, attractions, and rides out of which 5 of them are the world’s firsts, the Los Angeles Times named it the ‘second best waterpark in the world.’

Yas Marina Circuit

If you aren’t satisfied with the gravity-defying rollercoasters at Ferrari World and the adrenaline-charged slides of the Yas Waterworld and you really want to try your hand at one of the F1 cars then Yas Marina Circuit is the place to be.

Dive in the driving seat of an Aston Martin GT4 to a single-seater Formula 3000 Yas racing car show your mettle and driving skills on the 5.5 km track. It got global fame once it got on the F1 Calendar and is open all throughout the year for speed enthusiasts. Treat it as a warning the adventure can cause a severe hole in your pockets.

Seawings at Yas Marina

If you still have budget left after the ride around the marina circuit, try another unique experience – Seawings at Yas Marina. One has to skydive to enjoy the magnanimous beauty of Palm Jumeirah, here it is a lot convenient and less scary. Get on to a state-of-the-art Cessna seaplane at Seawings and fly over the Yas Island along with aerial views of Emirates Palace, Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the Abu Dhabi mangroves during the 25-minute flight.

Yas Mall

Yas Mall is to Abu Dhabi, what Dubai Mall is to Dubai. It is the main hot spot for people living in Abu Dhabi and the traveler visiting the city. It offers you an ultimate shopping experience through its 370 retail outlets. Watch out for the growing plant wall and the two 12m-high tree-themed sculptures by acclaimed South African artist Marco Cianfanelli, with leaves inspired by Arabic calligraphy.

Yas Marina

Yas Marine is promoted as a dock-dine-discover destination. Like the Dubai Marina, it is a scintillating place with 227-berth marina featuring 9 licensed restaurants and lounges, which cater to all taste buds and budgets. Sitting alongside the water promenade enjoy a drink with snacks with the views of the Yas Viceroy hotel and F1 circuit in the backdrop.

Yas Links

Yas Links is a golf course designed by Kyle Philips and is the best golf course in UAE. It is ranked 24th World’s best Golf courses outside the USA (Golf Digest USA, 2012). After a perfect day of golf make sure to head to their impeccable club for food and drinks.

Yas Viceroy

Yas Beach

An island is incomplete without a beach for the whole family – Yas beach is the perfect getaway from the adventure and thrill of the island. Located in a quiet corner spend a relaxing day with children activity, dining and water sports options.

Yas Viceroy

Yas Viceroy is a unique five-star property on Yas Island. It is the first hotel in the world to be built over an F1 race circuit. You will be simply blown away with its futuristic design and dazzling architecture. On the weekend of F1 race, there is no better place in the world to stay and I am sure you will still not find any of its 499 extravagant rooms vacant.

Where to Eat

Nolu’s Café – it is a place where Afghanistan meets California – the menu-spin comes from the secret recipes of the owner’s Afghan mother.

Felini Garden – It is an open terrace restaurant-bar renowned for its epic all-Italian Friday brunch.

Meylas – It is an amazing place to explore the Emirati flavors.

Stars ‘N’ Bars – it is located in Yas Marina and is voted Abu Dhabi’s best sports bar.

Cipriani – The fusion of Emirati design and Italian food with a terrace that looks out over the grandstands of the Yas Marina Circuit.

Café Bateel – Bateel is famous for its Arabian dates, try out the café version of Bateel where the Mediterranean meets the Middle East.

Tawa Bakery – Gluten free contemporary bakery in the Al Muneer Beach development area.

Getting There

Yas Island has very good public transport connectivity. Yas Express is their complimentary free bus shuttle service that will take you around all the attractions across the Island. Taxis are frequently available round the clock. One can also explore Yas by bike via ADCB Bikeshare, a bicycle sharing system powered by Cyacle that operates 24/7.

There are a plethora of options for everyone whether you are an adventure junkie, a shopaholic, a nature lover, a foodie or a traveler. Just say Yes to Yas Island.

For all the foodies out there,

For all the adventure freaks,

For all the explorers,

And

For all who say Yes to Yas…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 25th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the final post with the letter ‘Z’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

Image ref:

Post banner: https://visitabudhabi.ae/en/explore/islands/yas.island.aspx

#YasIsland: https://www.traveldailymedia.com/yas-island-eid-al-adha-events/

Yas Viceroy: Image by Beatrice Schmuki from Pixabay

Marina Circuit: Image by wendy1704 from Pixabay

 

21

X – Xploring the Grand Mosque | #AtoZChallenge

X – Xploring the Grand Mosque | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Today let me take you to the ‘Taj Mahal’ of the Middle East – their star attraction.

The Grand Mosque or as it is popularly known, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is located in the capital of UAE, Abu Dhabi. It is the largest mosque in the country and one of the largest mosques in the world. The sheer whiteness of the structure makes it comparable to Taj Mahal (maybe because I am an Indian) as there is hardly any other building in the world like this. If you are visiting in the after, it is literally blinding for the naked eye to stare at the monument.

It is an important place for daily prayers, Friday gatherings and Eid prayers. The mosque has a massive capacity and on Eid, it can accommodate up to 41000 people. The construction of the mosque started in 1996 and it took about twelve years to complete.

While Entering

This mosque is unlike other mosques that you would find around the world. Its uniqueness lies in its architecture that captures seamless interactions between Islam and world cultures. Sheikh Zayed’s vision for the Grand Mosque was to incorporate architectural styles from different parts of the world including many Muslim civilizations. He wanted the mosque to stand out as a symbol for togetherness of cultural diversity and heritage.

One look at the Mosque and you will feel that it is a celebration of cultural diversity. The mosque’s architects were British, Italian and Emirati, and design inspiration was borrowed parts of Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, and Egypt among other Islamic countries. Syrian architect Yousef Abdelky designed it, which covers an area of 22,412 square meters and was made in collaboration with 3,000 artisans from 38 global construction companies.

The Main area inside

It has soon become one of the most popular destinations not only in the UAE but in the whole world. In 2017 it saw a staggering 3.4 mn visitors and Tripadvisor rated it as the world’s second most favorite landmark with only Angor Wat in Cambodia beating it to the top spot.

It was made at a whopping cost of AED 2bn and is world’s third largest mosque with its 82 domes carved out of white marble, 1096 exterior columns, 96 semi-precious jewel-encrusted internal columns and the awe-inspiring seven handmade 24-carat gold plated Swarovski crystal chandeliers.

The Grand Mosque also holds three Guinness World records to its name – the largest hand-woven carpet in the world, the biggest chandelier and the largest dome of its kind.

The beautiful arches

The world’s largest carpet measures 5,627 sqm (60,570 sq ft) and was made by around 1,200-1,300 carpet knitters putting in an astounding 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet. The weight of this carpet is 35 ton and is predominantly made from wool (originating from New Zealand and Iran). The carpet alone took approximately two years to complete.

When you enter during sunlight the spectacular ancient-cut domes, the reflective pools that engulf the courtyard and the iconic prayer hall will mesmerize you. The pool looks surreal at night, which is illuminated reflecting the mosque’s columns.

It is named after UAE’s founding figure, Sheikh Zayed and after his death in 2004; he was buried in the mosque’s courtyard. Just like the Taj Mahal, its radiating brilliance lies in its carvings and patterns on the columns, which are studded with precious gems and stones like amethyst and Jasper.

To promote an open-culture-open-door policy the mosque is open for everyone and that too free of cost. One can also go for a one-hour guided tour of the mosque and this is also completely free – it definitely worth signing for as it gives an insight into the structure, heritage and architecture.

The Largest Chandelier

The mosque is always full of visitors but its extravagant size makes it feel very spacious and you will not feel cramped or overcrowded.

Timings: 9:00am – 22:00 Saturday-Thursday and 16:30-22:00 on Fridays

During Ramadan – 9:00am-14:00 Saturday-Thursday and the mosque is completely closed on Fridays.

Getting there:

If you are staying in Abu Dhabi take a taxi and within 20 min you will be at your destination. If you are traveling from Dubai, although there is a direct bus service from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, the preferred option is a taxi. The taxi will cost you around AED 250-275 per side and will only take about 90 min.

Important Tips:

When traveling to the Grand Mosque, do plan to visit a couple of other attractions in Abu Dhabi, that way you can make the most of your trip. Try to have meals before you come to the mosque, as you will not find many options in proximity.

Another view from inside

Please dress modestly as it is a Muslim religious site. The ladies will be provided with free ‘abayas’ to cover themselves fully. Remove shoes and socks before entering the main site.

Any time is a good time to visit the Grand Mosque but during summers try to visit in the morning or early evening. It is perfect for photography then. Don’t forget to carry a pair of sunglasses, as the glare might not make it comfortable for you.

It has a seductive captivating vibe, which makes you sit in silence and just observe and soak in the opulence. Irrespective of the faith you follow – you must visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque for its spectacular architecture.

For all those who love the Taj Mahal,

For all those who like architecture,

Pool reflecting the amazing columns

For all those who like visiting religious sites,

And

For all those who are amazed by The Grand Mosque…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 24th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘Y’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.