Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Have you ever gone inside an entrancing architecture that would lift you off your feet because of its tranquil splendor and magnificent beauty? This jaw dropping architectural wonder will do exactly that. Your trip to the United Arab Emirates is not complete without visiting one of the largest mosques in the world, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, located between Mussafah and Maqta bridge in Abu Dhabi.

Visit Timings:
There is no entrance fee. It is open to all nationalities and religions except during Friday gatherings, Eid Prayers and Ramadan. Best time to visit is between 9:00 AM to 11:30 PM on Saturdays, Sundays to Thursdays.

Proper Conduct and Dress Code:
Visiting the mosque is a solemn experience. The visitors are expected to observe proper conduct and dress code.  The women must wear long trousers or skirts with long sleeved shirts. No tight fitting clothes. The hair for women should be covered so headscarves are important but not to worry,  there is an area dedicated for women where you can borrow a black cloak called "abaya" and veil.  

Definitely no shorts for men. The dress code is either a white dish dash that you can borrow if you feel like wearing one or  long trousers with decent shirts.

Foot wear is left outside the entrance hall.  Wear something comfortable and easy to remove so be prepared to walk either barefoot or with your socks on.

No smoking, eating and drinking within the premises. Everyone is asked to leave during prayer times that usually start at 2PM.

The planning and design concept started in the late 1980s to early 1990s. It took more than 11 years to  construct this gigantic mosque, which started in November 1996.  Yusef Abdelki, a Syrian architect originally designed the mosque. Halcrow Group (Consulting Engineers) and Hill International (Project Consultants) completed the project after taking over in 2001.  The total construction cost is equivalent to AED 2 Billion (US$ 545 Million). 

It's a perfect example of excellent craftsmanship using materials sourced from different parts of the world. Ceramics,  gold, marble, stone, crystals, semi- precious stones, mother of pearl and hand-woven carpet.

The main dome is the largest in the world measuring 87 meters in height and 32.8 meters in diameter. It has 4 minarets, 82 domes and a gigantic courtyard with a total of 1048 columns.  There is a library at the north minaret.  The mosque  can accommodate up to 40,000 worshippers, 7,000 of which inside the main prayer hall.  I was privileged to have met some colleagues that were involved in this long term project from the manufacturers' side.  

Main Prayer Hall Chandelier

Inside the main prayer hall, the second world's largest chandelier, measuring 10 meters in diameter and 15 meters in height weighing 9 tons is a suspended building on its own equipped with a maintenance chamber within.   There are 7 of these chandeliers which were manufactured by Faustig, a chandelier manufacturer in Germany using specially fabricated panels encrusted with millions of Swarovski crystals and illuminated by LED. These chandeliers were said to have cost AED 30 Million (US $ 8.17Million).

Chandelier view from below
Main Prayer Hall Carpet
The carpet in the prayer hall is said to be the world's largest hand knotted carpet in the world designed by Iranian artist, Ali Khaliqi, produced by 1,200 artisans in small villages in Iran made with wool and cotton (from New Zealand and Iran) with a total area of more than 5,000 sq. meters. 

28 different types of marble were used, sourced from Greece, Macedonia, Italy, India, and China. Columns were built with marble, in laid with semi precious stones and mother of pearl. 

Unique Wall Panels
There is a large Qibla wall, 23 meters in height and 50 meters in width with 99 names of God (Allah) written in traditional calligraphy illuminated by efficient fiber optics.  

A unique lighting system was designed by lighting consultant Jonathan Speirs and Major, reflecting the different phases of the moon.

Qibla Wall

Despite the number of curious tourists visiting the mosque, there was an ethereal quality to the experience of being there. 

 Do you think it is a place you would be interested in seeing?
Love & light,

Reference: wiki

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  1. Muslim architecture really is lovely and so in sync with their climate and nature.
    As an atheist I do find hijabs and scarves deeply unsettling. Just the very thought of someone telling you that you have to cover yourself up from head to toe is offensive. I do support Western countries who forbid women wearing them publicly.

    1. I can imagine. It is definitely a different world out there in the Middle East.

  2. Absolutely beautiful. I am loving your new theme- btw!