Home » Middle East » Middle East- May 8, 2012

Middle East- May 8, 2012

The organizers of our trip are determined to get us waking up earlier every day. Today we were in the bus at 07:30 to embark for Abu Dhabi. On our way we made a “comfort stop” because our first destination was a huge mosque.  The mosque needs pictures, and really a visit, to adequately describe its grandeur but suffice it to say,  the building is impressive.  Our guide said it cost $1.5 billion to build, and this is the main mosque of the area where believers meet on Friday (the main day of worship which is  like Sunday to Christians).  We were there between times for prayer so the mosque was mostly empty except for a couple small groups of tourists.  While inside the mosque we all took off our shoes and were given white bags to carry them while inside.

The women in the group were also required to wear at least a black head-covering that only showed their faces, and most of them also wore a black gown that covered the rest of their clothing to their wrists and down to their feet.  Unsurprisingly these were warm, and with the outside temperature around 42 Celsius (108 Fahrenheit) we were all appreciative that the majority of the mosque was air-conditioned.

Within the mosque were enormous chandeliers, and gold plating in a few places, but largely the building was a beautiful white marble.  There were shallow pools of water around the building with blue tile bottoms that stood out in contrast to the white of the rest of the mosque.In a lower level of the mosque was a cleaning/washing (ablution) area where those attending for prayer could clean themselves before going into the Prayer Room.  The mosque can be filled with tens of thousands of people for prayer, which happens five times per day; prayer five times per day is the second of the five pillars of Islam. 

After a quick stop by a mall for lunch, we continued on to visit a company known as Invest AD; this visit was arranged by a former BYU graduate named David Sanders (as it turns out Invest AD’s CEO was part of the first BYU EMBA class several years ago).  The AD portion refers to Abu Dhabi and the group specializes in investment in the Middle East and Africa.  Founded in 1977 by Sheikh Zayed (then the ruler of the U.A.E.) the company provides value to its customers by having a presence in the geography it services and specialists with expertise in this part of the world.  With such a grand mosque nearby the influence of Islam on business stands out to me, and this can be seen here as well as other places.  Individuals or organizations who want to follow Islamic principles in their investing would not be willing, for example, to support some types of organizations.  According to Islam charging interest is not allowed, which means that banks following principles of Islam run differently than those in other parts of the world.  While companies in the Middle East that are in businesses around alcohol or drugs are rare, they would also be excluded from an investment that complies with the principles of Islam.  Invest AD provides investment opportunities that support businesses which meet these requirements as well as other funds which are less strict in this area.  The ‘Al Hilal GCC Equity Fund’ is one fund that only invests in organizations that meet these requirements.

Our last organized stop of the day was at Ferrari World.  We did not see much of the business side of the organization but we did get to ride on the rides.  The highlights include the Formula Rossa, a roller coaster which gets up to 240 km/h (149 mi/h) in just a few seconds, and some simulators that let you drive cars and compete against up to seven others while being bounced around by the simulator based on your own mistakes as well as others’ collisions.  They also have a ‘Soaring over Italy’ ride similar to California Adventures’ ‘Soaring over California’.


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