Abu Dhabi #1; Grand Zayed...

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Abu Dhabi #1; Grand Zayed...


Neil Shea








POINT (6064017.941 2803693.074)

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Abu Dhabi #1; Grand Zayed Mosque — The mosque is enormous and filled with tourists, who, at dusk, are growing cold. Women pull tighter their borrowed black cloaks and men in polos and t-shirts rub their arms and think of home. Most of them are Indian, chatting in Hindi. Most of us are not Muslim. I’m passing through the UAE long enough to see surfaces. We’ve been lured here by superlative—the loom of it on the horizon, the room in it for 40,000, largest hand-knotted carpet in the world, where even the washrooms are reverently kept, mops ever in swing. The prayer hall is a grove of glass and light, with chandeliers of gold and Swarovski crystal suspended between tall, thick pillars. Far above, the bellies of the domes are washed in purple and beside us sit stacks of Qurans, carnival-bright and leather-bound. Leigh Fermor could’ve here exhaled most of his architectural vocabulary. We circle through in socks or bared feet and photograph abundance. The doubtlessness. A number of us will wonder about the possibility of sudden conversion. I tell myself I am always ready, but that’s like hoping for sudden celebrity, faith without work. When the tour is finished I sit outside, pull on my boots, and watch a girl in a black headscarf twirl alone through a far corner of the marble courtyard. Her arms wide, her orbit eccentric. A guard starts after her—they’re clearing the floor now ahead of closing—but then he stops. Thumbs his radio. Decides, there is still a little time. Let her spin. // #abudhabi #uae #grandzayedmosque #faith #instaessay #notworking #suddenconversion





Neil Shea, “Abu Dhabi #1; Grand Zayed...,” The InstaEssay Archive, accessed July 18, 2018, http://instaessayarchive.org/items/show/2813.