If you ask me what to see in Abu Dhabi, I will definitely recommend a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. I visited the Mosque three weeks ago when I was in UAE and I was truly captivated by this stunning piece of architecture. Even though I was putting up in Dubai, I was very sure that I had to visit Abu Dhabi before my return to India. When I had visited Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Oman in 2014, I had heard a lot about this one and of course the comparisons of the carpet and the chandelier.
I visited the Mosque with my husband on a Friday evening. We had come to spend the weekend at a friend’s place in Abu Dhabi and before bidding final goodbye to the capital, I was bent upon to visit the mosque. Even though it was 8 p.m., I did not shy from making a quick visit. The mosque is open from 10 in the morning to 9 in the night. Since Friday is an important prayer day, it only opens at 4 p.m. for the visitors. There is no entry fee for the mosque. It is among the few mosques which is open for all if you are dressed decently. I am gonna talk about it as to what is considered decent because not always you are asked to wear Abaya.
The taxi driver dropped us at the gate that was closed that day. We walked around 500 meters before we landed at the gate that was open. Hubby had a laptop and therefore we had to submit it in the locker first. For once, we thought it would be complicated but to our surprise the process was very simple. There was no fee for the lockers as well. Once we were done with that, we passed through the bag checking machine. While this was being done, they looked at our attire and allowed us in. I was wearing a pant, shirt and a hoodie jacket, thus I did not need an Abaya. I was advised to keep my head covered with the hood of the jacket. Husband was wearing a shirt and jeans. So you can easily conclude that if you are wearing full length dresses, there are no hassles to enter and move around the mosque.
Once I was inside the mosque, I was absolutely in awe. Here is a quick guide that will introduce you to this iconic landmark and help you plan your trip to this marvelous structure made of white marble.
1) Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world and biggest in United Arab Emirates. It gets it name after the founder and first President of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Later the king was buried here itself.
2) The mosque which was built between 1996 to 2007 is world renowned as it houses the world’s largest chandelier and carpet. The chandeliers were brought from Germany and the carpet was woven in Iran.
3) The numbers say that this largest Persian carpet measures 5,627 square metres (60,570 sq ft). No less, it was woven by 1200 carpet knotters for two years. It weighs 45 tonnes and costs more than 8.5 million dollars.
4) The Mosque is completely carved in white marble. The marbles used in the interior and the exterior structure of the mosque have been fetched from different parts of the world- China, Greece, Italy, Macedonia and even Makrana from Makrana in India.
5) The mosque structure has eighty-two white domes inspired by Moroccan design and more than thousand columns. The beauty of the columns can be seen in the reflective pools around the monument. They make a glorious sight in the night.
6) The Mosque has seven Swaroskvi chandeliers from Faustig in Munich Germany. The center most chandelier is the second largest in the world.
7) As we moved towards the main prayer hall, the intricate carvings of Mosque left us gasping. Some of the rare and semi-precious stones that have been used are mother of pearl, jasper, amethyst, agate, etc.
8) Three famous calligraphy styles — Naskhi, Thuluth and Kufic have been used inside at the relevant places in the Mosque.
9) The Main prayer hall can accommodate 40,000 worshipers during the Eid celebrations.
10) I also learnt that the Mosque uses a unique lighting system in evening hours. It is dependent on the moon and follows its phases. The lights in the Mosque become lighter as the moon becomes full.
11) This Islamic prayer clock in Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan Mosque was beautiful. Most of the time we do not remember the exact date and time of our visit to any place. This picture will always remind me of my blessed moment when I was inside this gorgeous Mosque which was built with a tolerant vision of Islamic faith.