The United Arab Emirates mark my 45th country that I have visited.
I’ll let that stand alone as a statement, but I promise there is a purpose to this note.
Through my travels, I have learned that as you experience more and more of the world you start to recognize patterns that are agnostic to culture, country or continent.
I had one of these realizations today while wandering the majestic Sheikh Zayed Mosque of Abu Dhabi.
Of all the places I have seen all over the world, the most exquisite sights have all been places of worship.
The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the Sagrada Familia in Spain, and Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok are just a few that come to mind.
While I’ll definitely say a few Hail Mary’s when shit hits the fan, I won’t feign piety for the sake of this post.
Nevertheless religion in every culture is a topic that fascinates me.
I don’t suppose it’s a coincidence that the most beautiful places in the world are those in which we find God (Allah in this case.)
How is it that buildings can hold so much power, bringing comfort and peace to those visit?
Are they beautiful because we built them so opulently for God?
After all, the mosque in Abu Dhabi is one of the largest in the world and is adorned with massive chandeliers with millions of Swarovski crystals and columns clad with marble and pearl.
Or are they even more beautiful because God is there?
Perhaps the two are complimentary.
Either way the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is one of the most spectacular places I have ever seen, and while I don’t often plan to revisit a location, I somehow know I will be back here.