To leave Muscat and Oman, we decided to give another try to hitchhiking! And we did right! Under the blazing sun, hitchhikers in Oman never wait for more than ten minutes before a friendly car stops to take them in.
We met great people that day. A young man who was on his way to the mosque and drove us to the next petrol station, a shy couple who didn’t say lot but bought us a full bag of sweets and drinks before dropping us, a great man with his wives who was on his way to UAE for a shopping day (he kept saying he loved Alex’s Omani style), two businessmen who drove us until Al Ain in UAE. It was the only time we crossed a border with a driver!
In Al Ain, we took a bus to Abu Dhabi and started to explore the city. Like Muscat, Abu Dhabi was a city made for cars. We didn’t find much to do there, except visiting Masdar city and the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
Masdar city is a prototype of a smart city. We had heard about it because of our interest in smart cities and we didn’t want to miss it in Abu Dhabi. Actually Masdar is not a big city but rather a small neighbourhood in the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. The city relies on solar energy and other renewable energy sources as its objective is to be carbon neutral (and is still to be reached). We were a bit disappointed by its size and absence of inhabitants today. The financial crisis has made it a less ambitious project than it was initially. However its interesting aspect is its architecture. Its tiny streets, wind tower, and houses with terracotta walls decorated with arabesque patterns make it a very breezy city. Thanks to that, the temperature inside Masdar is cooler than in the desert around.
To sum up, our visit of Masdar city was interesting. We were surprised to find such a project in a country that relies so much on petrol with its big amount of cars and big needs for air conditioning. However some people say that Masdar is just a marketing tool to put some exposure on Abu Dhabi. And its true that we didn’t find a great soul for this city, just some attempts to make it look smart but with no people in the streets it looks like more to a ghost city.
Coming back from Masdar city to the centre of Dubai, we went to the most beautiful mosque we had ever seen. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque of Abu Dhabi was only built in 2007. Its impressive size, the white marble of the outside hall, the white columns carefully decorated with flowers, the beautiful ceilings of the prayer hall, make it the most magnificent building we’ve seen in UAE.
After these fews days in Abu Dhabi, it was time to go to Dubai. Bad news were awaiting for us there.