Abu Dhabi

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Our main reason for visiting Abu Dhabi, and the UAE, was to attend the final Formula 1 race of the season. Before the race weekend started, we did do a little sightseeing in Abu Dhabi, including visits to the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grande Mosque and Ferarri World. Sheikh Zayed Grande Mosque is the third largest mosque in the world, built at an estimated construction cost of $545 million USD, and is one of the few regional mosques open to non-Muslim visitors. At Ferrari World, we accelerated from 0 to 150 mph (240 km/h) in a blistering 5 seconds on Formula Rossa, the fastest roller coaster in the world.

Below are trip highlights from November 20th and 21st, 2018 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps

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Beirut Beer
A refreshing Beirut beer before dinner on the patio at Barouk Lebanese restaurant in the Yas Island Crown Plaza.
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Website Blocked
We were surprised to learn that the Google Voice website was blocked in the UAE.
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Abhu Dhabi only gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain a year, so the brief shower this morning was a rare event. This is the view from our room at the Crown Plaza Yas Island, where we’re staying for the F1 race. The top of a section of Yas Marina Circuit grandstands are just visible between the two hotels in the distance.
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Grande Mosque
At the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grande Mosque, one of the few regional mosques open to non-Muslim visitors. Sheikh Zayed, the first president of the UAE, built the mosque to encourage communication and tolerance. Completed in 2007, it is the third largest mosque in the world and was built from the Sheikh’s private funds at an estimated cost of $545 million USD.
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Mosque etiquette requires men to cover their knees and shoulders and for women to wear long, loose-fitting, ankle-length trousers or skirts and a headscarf.
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If an outfit doesn’t pass muster for entry to the mosque, an abeyya is supplied. Jennifer was told she needed to be wearing ankle-covering pants under her skirt and was issued one. The abeyya didn’t actually cover any more than Jennifer’s original outfit, but was lightweight and not a hassle to wear.
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The mosque was built with over 100,000 tons of white marble and is absolutely spectacular. The courtyard is 180,000 sq ft (17,000 m sq) and likely the largest example of marble mosaic in the world.
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It’s hard to get a feel for the scale of the mosque, but this picture of the courtyard full of worshippers gives an idea. The mosque can accommodate 40,000 worshippers.
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Over 1,000 pillars, inlaid with precious stones and delicate floral patterns, hold up the mosque roof.
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Prayer Hall
We took an informative guided tour through the Grande Mosque that provided information on the Islam religion and construction details of the mosque. The interior prayer hall can hold 7,000 worshippers and is as spectacular as the building exterior. The carpet, made in Iran, weighs 35 tons and is the largest hand-sewn carpet in the world. It was cut into nine piece and transported in two planes, then re-sewn in place. The gold-inlaid, Swarovski crystal chandelier visible beyond the tour group is another ‘largest in the world’ and weighs 12 tons.
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Yas Marina Circuit
After visiting the Grand Mosque, we returned to the hotel for lunch and a clothes change, then walked past the Yas Marina Circuit to the Ferrari World theme park on Yas Island. We’re super-excited to be here for the race and will be at the track tomorrow.
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Ferrari World
A map of the Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island. Our hotel is at the upper left and the Ferrari World theme park is the large three-pronged red building directly right of the track. Ferrari World is the largest space frame structure in the world and the first Ferrari theme park.
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An previous-generation Formula 1 car on display at Ferrari World.
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488 Spider
A 488 Ferrari Spider. Powered with a 3.9L twin-turbocharged V8, the car can reach 0-62mph (0-100km/h) in 3.0 seconds.
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La Ferrari reference model on display at Ferrari World, along with a few other models. We had a fun afternoon, but were hoping to learn more about Ferrari and see more cars. Ferrari World really is just a theme park that was named after the car manufacturer.
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Flying Aces
We took several rides at Ferrari World. The first roller coast was Flying Aces, designed to mimic the movement and figures of a bi-plane. It features the world’s steepest and fastest cable lift, at 51 degrees and 20mph (30 km/h), and the world’s tallest non-inverted loop, climbing 180 ft (52 m). The ride has more than 10 zero-gravity moments, a maximum vertical acceleration of 4.8G and speeds of up to 75mph (120 km/h). The unusual thing about this roller coast is the two outside seats hang beyond the track in open air, mimicking the feeling of flying. James rode one of the front-most outside seats and said it was completely different than any roller coaster he’d ever been on. We enjoyed the ride and were a little wobbly after it.
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Formula Rossa
The Formula Rossa roller coaster at Ferrari World is the fastest in the world and accelerates from 0 to 150 mph (240 km/h) in a blistering 5 seconds using a hydraulic catapult system. All the focus on this ride is on acceleration—the car is rolled slowly out to the launch platform, a few clicks are heard as the catapult hooks up, and less than 5 seconds later you’re travelling at 150 mph (240 km/h). It’s about as close as you’ll get to Formula 1 acceleration without a FIA Super License.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.


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