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Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Sheikh Zayed Mosque is Abu Dhabi’s most iconic sight and the most important place of worship in the United Arab Emirates. An architectural masterpiece, it is the 6th-largest in the world and one of the most opulently embellished of all. Superlatives, when talking about this mosque, are endless. Measuring a mind boggling 121,000 sq meter, it has the capacity to hold 40,000 worshipers at once, boasts the third-largest crystal chandelier the world over, the largest Iranian carpet ever made and incorporates the use of some of the most exquisite building materials known to man.
Brief HistorySheikh Zayed Mosque was built at a cost of over 540 million USD and is meant to represent an international unity of cultures. To do this, the architects implemented the use of materials from almost every corner of the globe. Italian Lasa and Indian Makrana marble, gold, mother of pearl, precious gems and colorful ceramics help make this one of the most visually stunning constructions in the world. The building of the mosque was overseen by an Italian company, although over 30 companies and 30,000 workers were involved in the development.
The mosque was the brain child of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan , the founder of the United Arab Emirates, a man renowned for his grand ambitions and even grander achievements. His vision was to build an Islamic haven where modernity and antiquity could co-exist. He certainly modernized the area in a phenomenal way, although his dream of improving his citizen’s lives is still largely in dispute. Nevertheless, Sheik al Nayhan did adopt a very moderate if not downright modern version of Islam, away from extremism and oppression. For this, he is still revered.
His homonymous mosque took nine years to build and was officially inaugurated in 2007. It is the Sheikh’s final resting place; his burial spot is set within the gardens of the mosque, next to the main prayer hall.
Interesting Facts & FiguresThe Sheikh Zayed Mosque is an infinitely impressive sight to behold. Here are some aspects which may help you appreciate what an architectural feat it really was to build.
DomesThere are 82 domes within the mosque, all made of marble and designed in Moroccan style.
LightingThe lighting system was designed by an international company and set to follow the phases of the moon; the colors complement and reflect its monthly cycle and gift a most breathtaking, and ever-changing, reflection.
CourtyardThe mosque’s courtyard boasts the largest marble mosaic ever made.
The RugThe revered Iranian rug was hand-made by 1,300 weavers using the finest merino wool from New Zealand and Iran, and took two years to make. It includes more than two billion knots, measures over 5,600 square meters, and weighs an astonishing 35 tons.
The ChandeliersThere are half a dozen imported chandeliers in the mosque, with the largest measuring 10m in diameter and 15m in height, weighs 12 tons and embellished with millions of Swarovski crystals. All the chandeliers boast 24-carat gold detailing.
ColumnsThe main prayer hall comprises 96 outstanding hand-designed marble and mother of pearl columns.
How to Visit the MosquePriority, first of all, must go to your choice of attire, as all mosques have particularly strict dress codes. Make sure you are well covered and do accept the offer of an abaya to wear before entering. Men may likewise be required to borrow a dishdash (the Emirati national dress) at the entrance, although long trousers and long sleeved shirts should suffice.
The mosque is open daily for visitors, and although you are free to peruse around on your own (outside of prayer times, of course) we’d highly recommend you join one of the many free guided tours, given at 10 a.m, 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. The sunset tour (5 p.m.) is particularly spectacular, and if you get here a little earlier you’ll have a chance to sit, relax, and soak up the contemplative atmosphere before the tour. Do check the mosque’s website before coming, however, as guide and opening times may vary depending on Islamic calendar events.
How to Get ThereThe Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is located about 13km west of the city’s center and an included stop on the city’s Hop on/Hop off bus route. The bus departs every hour from Marina Mall and includes stops in all the city’s major landmarks. Alternatively, you can get here by taxi from the city and you’ll find plenty here to take you back. If driving on your own, make sure you make your way to the eastern gate of the mosque, from the car park, as this is the guided tour meeting point.
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Author: Laura Pattara. Last updated: Mar 20, 2015