As I mentioned before, Abu Dhabi welcomes international influences whilst maintaining its traditional Islamic heritage. On our second day in the Emirates we paid our respects to both in the most spectacular style – a style befitting a fast-moving, ever-growing future metropolis.
We rose at 9.30am – a wonderful lie-in when you’re used to being on your third lesson at that point on a normal school day – to head out to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. It is the sixth biggest mosque in the world, and certainly one of the most eye-catching. Its marble white exterior glistens gently under the scorching sun, whilst the noise reverberating around the grounds ranges from the murmurs of quiet conversation to the cacophony of prayer time, played out to a backdrop of lightly splashing fountains.
You can tell that a lot of Dirhams – the local currency – have been injected into the construction of this most modern of mosques. This is most noticeable from the stunning chandeliers that dangle delicately from the ceiling, which are studded with stones from across the globe. The floral patterns that decorate the floors and walls of the complex make this a particularly welcoming place of worship.
A taxi ride – as that is the common way of commuting through Abu Dhabi – then took us to Ferrari World; an homage to one of the most famous car manufacturers in the world. Formula 1 brought its showpiece event here a few years ago, and an entertainment park was constructed to help build and sustain interest in motor racing.
The park is certainly aimed at the younger generation. Most of the rides are designed with future F1 champions in mind, as opposed to adults. In spite of this, there is enough to entertain people who have long given up on the dream of being the next Michael Schumacher. There are two rollercoasters – I’ll come onto that later – simulators, and a show called La Gara.
The show was phenomenal, and seemed to have absolutely no connection to Ferrari or cars whatsoever. From somersaults on stilts to a twirling girl high above our seats, via an incredibly well-balanced man in a spinning wheel, it was great entertainment.
The main entertainment for me, however, was being shot like a rocket along the world’s fastest rollercoaster. Formula Rossa was opened in late 2010, and has been designed to simulate the effects of being in a Formula 1 car. What this means for the person who nervously gets onto the ride is that they are immediately fired along the track using a hydraulic launch system.
Due to the ferocity of the ride, riders have to wear goggles, which is a bizarre feeling. The ride reaches a speed of 240km/h, or 150mph, after about 5 seconds…which is an amazing feeling. To be fired like a bullet from a gun gives you a phenomenal feeling of helplessness. To experience that feeling in a Ferrari would be very intense, and very satisfying.
After a feast of Indian food we turned in, and said our goodbyes to Abu Dhabi the following morning. It was time to drive south to the millionaires’ playground. Hello Dubai!
Love you all