ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II toured one of the world’s largest mosques Wednesday in her first state visit in more than 30 years to the United Arab Emirates, a country with deep British ties.
The 84-year-old monarch wore a white hat covered by a gold scarf at Abu Dhabi’s Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, part of a massive marble complex that contains the tomb of the late Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the UAE after it gained statehood following more than 100 years as a British protectorate.
The queen, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip and Emirati leaders, paused for a moment outside the mosque to remove her shoes. Her outfit for the visit also included white gloves and an ankle-length white dress and coat.
Her delegation also includes British Foreign Secretary William Hague – underscoring the region’s strategic significance.
The queen last visited the UAE in 1979 before the country underwent a stunning economic expansion that has drawn workers and companies from around the world, including more than 100,000 Britons and 4,000 British businesses.
She plans to travel today to neighboring Oman.