The grandeur and significance of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque are immediately apparent upon entering. All walks of life congregate here to marvel at the astonishing architecture and learn more about the spiritual and cultural traditions of the United Arab Emirates.
The founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, had the idea for the massive mosque. He dreamed of establishing a cultural sanctuary that would serve as an inspiration to people from all walks of life.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a stunning introduction to Abu Dhabi, rising imposingly from groomed gardens and being visible from the bridges connecting Abu Dhabi Island to the mainland.
You’ll witness gold-plated Swarovski chandeliers, a massive marble mosaic in the courtyard, and ponds that reflect the amethyst and jasper inlaid columns as you make your way through the marble corridors. Outside, you can admire the mosque’s four impressive minarets, which soar a lofty 106 meters into the sky.
Both the mosque’s stunning design and its warm atmosphere will leave you speechless. Because of this policy, people from all kinds of life and all parts of the world are welcome to visit the Emirate to take in its magnificence and learn more about the Emirate’s culture of open conversation.
Keep in mind that the edifice is still used as a mosque, inviting anything from tens of thousands to fifty thousand worshipers every day.
Remember this when you make preparations for your trip. Visitors to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque are asked to dress modestly and are asked to wait outside the main prayer hall on Fridays from noon to three o’clock while Friday prayers are held.
Former guests highly recommend signing up for one of the complimentary guided excursions. The 82 spectacular domes of the mosque are surrounded with gold-leaf writing, which will be pointed out to you by experts so that you don’t miss a thing.
Visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque again after dark to see its magnificent facade illuminated. It is highly advised that you combine your visit to the moving Wahat Al Karama memorial with supper in the nearby Al Qana neighborhood.
The construction of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
the founding president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was laid to rest in the mosque he oversaw throughout its construction.
The Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque in Alexandria, constructed by Mario Rossi in the 1920s; the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan; and other examples of Persian, Mughal, and Indo-Islamic architecture all served as sources of inspiration for the architect Yusef Abdelki. The Badshahi Mosque served as an inspiration for the mosque’s dome design and layout. Their minarets are stereotypically Arab, and their arches are typically Moorish.
More than 3,000 people and 38 sub-contracting organizations were enlisted in its construction, which was a joint venture between Italian contractors Impregilo and Rizzani de Eccher. Between 2004 and 2007, a Joint Venture consisting of ACC and Six Construct (a division of the Belgian corporation BESIX Group) worked under a second contract to finish the mosque. Due to their durability and elegance, natural materials, including marble, gold, semiprecious stones, crystals, and ceramics, were used extensively in its design and construction. India, Italy, Germany, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, Malaysia, Iran, China, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, North Macedonia, and the United Arab Emirates all contributed artisans and materials.
The unique architectural elements of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
A masterwork of contemporary Islamic architecture and design, it has more than eighty marble domes supported by one thousand pillars and crowned by four minarets at 107 meters in height.
It was built using more than 90,000 tons of white marble imported from the Republic of Macedonia. In contrast to the more conventional geometric ceramic embellishments, a number of marbles are adorned with floral motifs inlaid with semiprecious stones such as lapis lazuli, red agate, amethyst, abalone, jasper, and mother-of-pearl.
The overall effect is modern and progressive, despite nods to Mamluk, Ottoman, Fatimid, Moorish, and Indo-Islamic forms. Three chandeliers made of steel, gold, brass, and crystal illuminate the inside of the main prayer hall with bright primary colors. The largest of the chandeliers weighs over 11 tons and is adorned with Swarovski crystals and 40 kg of 24-karat galvanized gold.
The world’s biggest loomed carpet, made of Iranian cotton and New Zealand wool, was carried in from Mashad, Iran, on two airplanes and served as one of the hall’s most eye-catching attractions. The intricate arabesque designs in the medallion design took 1200 skilled workers two years to construct, with half of that time spent hand-knotting the 5700 square meters of woolen thread on a cotton basis. That’s the equivalent of 2.26 trillion knots!
The History of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The Grand Mosque, which was built from 1994 to 2007, was dedicated in December of that year. Excluding landscaping and parking lots, the complex’s building footprint is around 290 by 420 meters (950 by 1,380 feet), or more than 12 hectares (30 acres). The building’s main axis is tilted at an angle of around 12 degrees south of true west in order to face the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who is the late president of the UAE initiated the project with the dream of creating a building that would bring together the Islamic world’s many cultural traditions with the modern and historical ideals of architecture and the arts. Sheikh Zayed passed away in 2004 and was buried in the mosque’s courtyard.
There are administrative offices for the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center (SZGMC) in one of the west minarets. The day-to-day operations are overseen by SZGMC, which also acts as a hub for discovery and education through its many cultural and visitor-oriented events.
The library, housed in the northeastern minaret, provides the local community with reference materials and rare publications covering a vast variety of topics related to Islam, such as its sciences, civilization, calligraphy, arts, and currency.
Arabic, English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Korean are just a few of the languages represented here. TripAdvisor users have ranked it as the world’s number two most popular tourist attraction for two years running! No wonder it’s such a great attraction known worldwide.
Some tips to know before visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Except during prayer hours, visitors are free to enter the mosque. Although extensive audio tours are available in 11 languages, a great free 45-minute guided tour (in English and Arabic) helps explain the basic principles of Islam while telling out some of the stylistic highlights of the interior. Prayer hours vary every day; please refer to the website for updates.
Proper attire for a mosque includes long, loose-fitting pants or skirts that reach the ankles, long sleeves, and a headscarf for women. Those who aren’t properly attired are sent to a changing area by security, where they can borrow kandouras (casual shirt-dresses worn by men and women) and hooded abayas (robe-like dresses worn by women) at no cost.
The mausoleum of Sheikh Zayed may be seen on the way to the mosque, but only the current president of the UAE is permitted inside. Here, attendants say prayers in shifts of an hour around the clock (the cycles take 1.5–2 days to complete).
Visitors may take pictures everywhere else in the mosque, but the mausoleum is off-limits. They should, however, be respectful to those who are praying. On the northern side of the complex, at the entrance, you’ll find an excellent café and a gift shop.
Final words about Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the centerpiece of Abu Dhabi and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, rises up like a fantasy at the eastern extremity of the island in the Persian Gulf. A monument to the late ruler of Abu Dhabi and founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nayhan.
This House of God is a monument of superlatives, boasting the largest dome of any mosque as well as the largest hand-woven carpet in the world. Over 40,000 worshipers can fit within. We’ve made a complete guide for this amazing attraction of Abu Dhabi, which is also considered the world’s most fascinating mosque. Follow us on social media and let us know what you think about this article.