Two Weeks Abroad: Day Eight – Abu Dhabi

Day Eight, already? Our last day in the UAE? It feels bittersweet. I don’t really want to leave this country, but I’m looking forward to going to Hong Kong.

We started our last day with heading over to Masdar. It’s a long term project which when complete will be a self sustaining city. Masdar is an attempt at diversifying energy resources due to falling oil prices. Masdar has local and international projects where they supply wind farms and solar energy.

When we arrived at their office, we were instructed to board these cute little pods that looked like small cars in order to enter the city. They were self-driving and held up to six people. We later learned that these pods were actually called Personal Rail Transit (PRT), and they followed a path created by magnets that were buried underneath the concrete. Initially, The PRT was going to be used throughout Masdar City. However, it has limitations. Where would people store luggage or bags, and how could large groups stay together while traveling in these small cars?

   
   
Despite the limitations of the PRT, it’s still a great shuttle service that helped us arrive at Masdar Institute. The institute is located inside of Masdar City and is open only to graduate students only. Its connected with MIT and focuses on accepting students with degrees in engineering and science. All of the students at Masdar Institute are on scholarship; the institute pays for apartments, travel, tuition, books, and any other costs.

After vising Masdar City, we ate a quick lunch then boarded a bus to head to the Emirates Palace. My first impression of the Palace is that it was huge. It looked like something straight out of a movie with its huge domes, pristine lawn, and towering palm trees. The interior of the Palace seemed even more extravagant. Everything was gold, and the lobby opened up into a huge dome that housed an enormous Christmas tree.

   
 We were given a quick lecture about Emirates Palace and its management team. We learned that it cost about 65,000 dirhams a night to stay in a suite (roughly 80,000 USD). The construction of the Palace took about three years and cost $3 billion. It has 114 domes for the 114 verses in the Quran, and they used 80 kilograms of 24 karat gold in the construction.

After the lecture, we were given a quick tour. We were lead through massive hallways filled with plush carpets and fancy chandeliers. The interior of the suites had a master bedroom that was so bigger than my entire house. The bathroom came complete with marble floors and granite countertops. The tub was so large that they installed a staircase so that it could be reached.

     

 Following the master bedroom, we saw the rest of the hotel. Everything looked so expensive that I was scared to even breathe on anything. The chairs looked as if they were so fancy that only royalty could be allowed to sit on them. I think I went bankrupt just looking at them.

   
 
   
We ended our day with a trip to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. When we arrived at the Mosque, the women were immediately stopped. We needed to cover our entire bodies before we would be allowed in. Sadly, none of us knew that beforehand, so we had to wait in the rain for half an hour before someone came out with coverups. Meanwhile, the guys (and a handful of girls) left us behind so they could start to explore.

Once we caught up to them, we were captivated by the beauty. The archways were absolutely breath taking, and the pattern work was simply stunning. People were snapping photos left and right. We took so long in the mosque, that by the time we boarded the bus, we were behind schedule. When we got to the airport, we had to practically sprint through it so that we wouldn’t miss our flight.

     
   

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