It so happened that I have made sudden plans to go to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi the next day. (You’ll find more about it in next week’s article posts). Local guides insisted that we should “make sure to dress accordingly”, to wear long sleeves and trousers. Appropriate scarves would be given to us at the entrance, they said. What a thrill! I have rushed to my friend’s house, begged for any kind of trousers, since I did come here for a summer vacation and everything I brought was short and light (but still not “light enough” when it comes to these 45 degrees). So, I have ended up with men’s trousers and a blouse which were both too large and which I was going to boil in for sure.. But, it is the Grand Mosque we are talking about, remember?
And yes – it was too hot to wear those trousers, and yes – I have slipped numerous times because they were too long and lumpish, but at least I have managed to pack that blouse, congratulating myself for being practical as I was going to pull it out of my bag the minute I step into the Mosque. Even had a scarf of my own. So, I was fully prepared, no surprises there.
I got to the entrance. One Arab guy was pointing to a dressing room “where tourists were supposed to get required abaya dresses for women or white dishdasha for men”.
“Thank you, sir, but I have all I need in my bag. I am well prepared.”
He smiles, saying that I should just “take the small elevator down.”.
“No, really, you don’t understand, it’s fine, I have all I need.”
Still nice, smiling, he was strict this time: “I understand madam, but please, be so kind and just go to the elevator.”
Oh well, I went along, of course. Went down, left my ID and got – short hooded black and blue abaya, being “shorter” because I had those trousers on?!
If by any chance I had come wearing a light, summer skirt (ideal for taking a trip in this heat, by the way), I would have got a longer abaya, covering my ankles. That blouse came to be useless as well, it stayed packed, just being heavy, along with the scarf! And I have dragged that full, bulky bag for three or four hours I have spent in the Mosque, for nothing…
Came back to Dubai, returned the cloths to its owner. “Hope it did come useful”, he said. Hum, the heat, stumbling, dragging, but also – great white marble wonder in the middle of nowhere. I smiled:
“Thank you, it was surely worth it.”