What do you thing your average Abu Dhabian does of a weekend? A spot of swimming in the warm sea? A trip to the desert? Some camel racing perhaps? No, we go to Carrefour.
For reasons too tedious to explain, I have been to two Carrefours today and you would have thought they had announced that you got a year’s free groceries judging by the queues. Or that every litre of milk came with a kiss from Carla Bruni for the blokes and one from Olivier Martinez for the girls.
Sadly none of the above was true. We just all happened to be there at the same time. Luckily the children and I had begun the day with a little more culture. We went to perhaps the only other building here that is bigger than Carrefour; the Grand Mosque.
I was asked to put on an abya and a scarf before I went in and found it a rather interesting experience. It wasn’t hot or uncomfortable as I imagined it would be. I felt rather elegant sweeping through the vast rooms with my children in tow. Olivia and Bea, never one to miss an opportunity to dress up, donned scarves as well. If I could only get the photo from my phone to the computer I could show you. Leo acted as photographer and did a great job.
The Grand Mosque opened earlier this year and is the final resting place of Sheikh Zayed, the Father of the Nation, to whom it is dedicated. A friend told me today that there are several people employed to read The Koran out loud to his remains at four-hour stretches each. The building covers an area of 22,000 square metres (who does the hoovering is what I want to know) and the building is entirely clad in marble.
It is big enough for 30,000 worshippers, assuming they can tear themselves away from Carrefour that is.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008