We have just had the most wonderful day being chaffeur driven to Abu Dhabi the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and the largest of the 7 states with nearly 80% of the total land mass. The city itself has a population of around 900,000 and like Dubai seems to be constantly under construction. The road to the capital is 8 lanes all the way and virtually straight. High fences line either side of the highway to prevent stray camels from crossing the road and causing traffic mayhem! Needless to say the countryside along the way is just sand with a few tussocks, and totally flat – not a hill in sight!
Abu Dhabi boasts kilometres of beach front just like Dubai and also has several islands that have been developed and extended providing tourist accomodation and shopping centres. We visited the most amazing new development just south of Abu Dhabi where you can sail your yacht right up to a magnificent 5 plus star hotel which has a formula one racetrack that runs around it!
We also ventured into the foyer of the most amazing hotel aptly named the Grand Palace. There is no way I could describe it and do it justice. Suffice to say I haven’t ever seen anything like it in my life. The marble used in the entrance (in fact used everywhere) was beautiful, as were the ornate ceilings and ballistrades.
There is no doubt the highlight of the day was the visit to the Abu Dhabi Mosque. Built over a decade and finished in 2007 this amazing mosque is the most beautiful building I have ever seen. Nearly all mosques in the Emirates are not open to the public but this particular one is, and some locals give the most informative guided tours to share their faith and spread an understanding of Islam. Materials used in building the mosque have come from all over the world with the most amazing chandeliers featuring priceless crystals, the largest persian carpet in the world and the most wonderful ornate inlaid floral decorations in the marble floors on on the walls in the entrance foyer. The mosque can house over 7,000 people at worship, but is only used on special occassions and every Friday which is the holy day here in UAE. The rest of the time the mosque is used for tours to allow visitors to learn more about the Islamic culture and beliefs. No shoes are worn in the mosque and long black robes and head scarves are provided for all guests.
We enquired about camel racing today but it seems that the season may not have commenced yet! Evidently it is a very popular sport here and there are several racetracks. Races can vary in length and jockeys as young as 10 ride the camels. A good racing camel is worth a ‘fortune’ so I am told!!!
Well it was great to hear the LADY LYNETTE did her very best to go out on a winning note virtually leading all the way to finish first in the Group 2 Sunline Stakes. Coming from the outside barrier and carrying top weight she certainly had her work cut out! Sadly interference caused at the 1200m mark when she was trying to get across from the outside, ended up costing her the race in the stewards room. Her jockey Michael Guthrie was given a 15 meeting suspension for the interference caused. Well she won’t have lost any admirers – a winner of 15 races (most of them Group races) and with many other Group placings this gallant mare now retires to stud with stakes earnings of over $1.1 million. She is catalogued to be sold at the Sydney Easter Broodmare Sale in mid April. She certainly has flown the Tassie flag over the past 4 years, and we now look forward to hopefully producing another star to take her place.