The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (Arabic: جَامِع ٱلشَّيْخ زَايِد ٱلْكَبِيْر, translit. Jāmiʿ Ash-Shaykh Zāyid Al-Kabīr) is located in Abu Dhabi. A 1-hour journey from Dubai, we went on a Sunday afternoon tour. Defiantly worth the money and the time.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi … the most photogenic building I ever been too.
It cost US$545 million to build. Groundbreaking in 1996 and completed in 2007.
The building complex measures approximately 290 by 420 m (950 by 1,380 ft), covering an area of more than 12 hectares (30 acres), excluding exterior landscaping and vehicle parking.
Around 41,000 worshipers can worship at the same time at the mosque.
There are 82 domes of various sizes and the largest is located in the centre of the main prayer hall. The design elements include pure white marble cladding; onion shaped ‘crowns’ and crescent-shaped finials decorated with gold-glass mosaic.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has 1096 columns around the arcade. Each piece was hand-carved and inlaid by craftsmen here on site and they used a special inlay technique called “Pietra Dura” which began firstly in Italy 16th century and reached Mughals in the early 17th century, and perhaps the most exquisite example is the columns of “Taj Mahal” in India.
The courtyard (Sahan) is usually found in larger ‘Grand’ mosque structures. It is an open area, usually has a shape of square or rectangular. The courtyard is used by worshipers during significant Islamic prayers and large gatherings such as the holy month Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr (Feast of Breakfast) and Eid Al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice). The courtyard can accommodate up to 31000 worshipers and the area is approximately 17400 square meters.
Many thousands of finest marble pieces make up the design including beautiful floral elements and mosaic. The designs were illustrated by British artist “Kevin Dean”. The edges adorned using different types of flowers that grow in the Middle East such as Tulip, Lily and Iris.
The mosque is surrounded by rectangular pools tiled in different shades of blue, which extend over 7874 m2. They reflect the mosque’s magnificent arcades and columns and become even more spectacular by the lighting at night.
There are seven crystal chandeliers made by Faustig (Munich, Germany) situated inside the halls and foyers. The largest (located in the main prayer hall and considered one of the world’s largest in a mosque and is weighing approximately 12 tons.
And the carpet in the main prayer hall is considered to be the world’s largest carpet madeThis carpet measures 5,627 m2 (60,570 sq ft), and was made by around 1,200-1,300 carpet knotters. The weight of this carpet is 35 ton and is predominantly made from wool (originating from New Zealand and Iran). There are 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet and it took approximately two years to complete.
The pools along the arcades reflect the mosque’s columns, which become illuminated at night. The lighting system is designed by lighting architects Speirs and Major Associates.
The unique lighting system was designed to reflect the phases of the moon. Soft undulating clouds of a bluish grey colour are projected onto the white marble external surfaces of the mosque including the façade and domes. Each day appears a little different from the next as the lighting cycle commences with darker clouds when the month is in its early stages and the moon is a small crescent. As the moon progresses through its cycle and becomes full, so does the lightning effect become more brilliant. There are twenty-two light towers consisting of an efficient number of light projectors to achieve this creative effect.
So glad we went for the afternoon tour and had the chance to see the lightning in action, absolutely breathtaking.
We booked our tour with “Klook”. A 6-hour tour with transit included for 44$/£34/€39/410SEK and they had “abayas” organized all ready on the bus for us ladies. Glad that we weren’t put on a catwalk. I was surprised that we were able to wear sandals and show our toes, but no problem.
Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and what he didn’t know he found out and there was plenty of time for photo-taking.
Even the restrooms were so beautifully decorated, only visit the blue one (ladies) … men have green.
But when getting all the details about what everything cost to make this spectacular place to what it’s today … I felt a bit sick because with all that money a lot of suffering and poverty could be adjusted in the world.
So I felt a bit split over enjoying my visit to the mosque so much as I did.
Same about the “Louvre” Museum that now has opened in Abu Dhabi – it cost them over $550million to borrow the name and even more for the loan of the art is, they are not able to buy the art. How much good couldn’t be made from that money? We didn’t visit.
“In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”