For whatever reason, none of the tour companies I researched offered day trips from Dubai to Abu Dhabi that included a visit to the Louvre. A trip to Abu Dhabi without seeing the recently-opened Louvre was a dealbreaker for me, so I decided to visit the city on my own. The wealthy version of me that doesn’t exist wanted to use a private driver, but the actual factual Jessica had to get around via public transportation.
I started early in the morning from my hotel in Downtown Dubai and took the metro down to Ibn Battuta Bus Station for 5 AED. From there, I hopped on a bus to the Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station for 25 AED. From there, I crossed the street and waited 15 minutes for the #94 bus that took me on a lengthy ride to the Louvre for 2 AED. The ride allowed me to view a bit of the city, which was not as stunning in appearance as Dubai. Abu Dhabi tends to be more conservative than Dubai, and it was easy to see.
Including me, there were about six people who got off at the Louvre bus stop. All of them were Louvre employees except for me. At first glance, the place was dead and there were no other people at the site. As I got to the entrance, I realized that there was another parking area and there actually were quite a few visitors there to indulge in the art and architecture.
I didn’t accurately calculate how much time I would spend at the Louvre. The grounds were stunning, so I spent I quite a bit of time admiring the architecture. Everything was silvery, white, and bright. The art collection was enormous but unimpressive because it included more European artists than I would have preferred. By the time I exited, I realized I didn’t have enough time to have a late lunch, visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and make it back to the Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station before the last bus to Dubai departed. I decided to skip lunch and take a taxi directly to the mosque.
The Pakistani taxi driver who picked me up asked me where I was from, then began discussing the dreaded American tourist topic – Donald Trump. I cringe whenever his name comes up in conversation. I don’t like to discuss him when I’m on my native soil, and I damn sure don’t like to be the brunt of the jokes when I’m on foreign soil. My vote went to a qualified candidate, but I remain haunted by the fact that these United States of America allowed this man to troll his way into a presidency. Upon learning of my citizenship, people across the globe have been giving me the side-eye since 2016.
I made it to the mosque after the unpleasant ride in a taxi with a driver who laughed and made jokes about our current president as if it wasn’t a serious matter. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque required conservative dress for women, and I was wearing a royal blue dress but no hijab since I couldn’t find a hijab in the correct blue shade to match at the last minute. As a result, I had to wear one of the unfashionable abayas that the mosque supplied. Everyone was also required to take off their shoes before entering the mosque as to not disrupt the white marble floors.
The mosque was peaceful despite the number of visitors. My bus was leaving soon, so I rushed through quickly without a guided tour. Regrettably, I didn’t have enough time to absorb all of its splendor and learn as much as I could have about the architecture. The marble, crystal, gold, and the grandeur of it all did not go unnoticed. The first image that comes to my mind when I think of the United Arab Emirates is Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, so I was thankful to have experienced it with my own eyes, even if just for a brief moment.
That was the extent of the day trip to Abu Dhabi, as I headed back to Dubai after leaving the mosque. If I return to the Emirates again, I would love to spend more time exploring the city at a slower pace. One day was definitely not enough to satisfy me.