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The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque located in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is considered one of the most important tourist attractions in the United Arab Emirates, as visitors from all over the world come to see this architectural masterpiece, which deserves a visit.
An overview of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the world’s third largest mosque after the Grand Mosque in Makkah Al-Mukarramah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The mosque is considered one of the largest architectural works that includes a mixture of various schools of Islamic architecture, it also features bright white color decorated with gold.
Whereas, Sheikh (Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, “May God rest his soul in peace”), who is the first president of the United Arab Emirates, wanted to build one of the houses of Allah in order to perform religious rites, embody and represent the UAE’s message of tolerance and coexistence, and extend the roots of communication between different religions. .
The construction of the mosque began in 1996 AD and was completed in 2007 AD, the construction process took 11 years.
The mosque gives an impression of the messages it adopts, such as tolerance, distinction, coexistence, volunteering, community responsibilities, and other good qualities.
A tour inside the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and information about it
Your tour inside the wonderful mosque starts from the “Path of Tolerance”, which includes a group of sections, each of which tells different stories; the first section tells the vision of the founder of the mosque, whose chapters talk about the principles that were adopted in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, in addition to the journey of its establishment from construction to implementation, the second section talks about all the Islamic elements that the mosque includes in terms of building elements and arts, in the last section, you will find images expressing the messages that the mosque adopts and sends to the hearts of its visitors, as we mentioned (tolerance, distinction, coexistence, and others).
The Grand Mosque covers a total area of 555,000 square meters, which includes a mosque, courtyard, gardens, market, library, visitor center and other facilities that make the visit experience integrated and incredible.
The area of the Grand mosque building is about 40,000 square meters, 165,000 square meters of the building area is covered with marble. The mosque’s courtyard is about 17,300 square meters to accommodate more than 30,000 worshipers, this courtyard was designed by an international British designer, and its floor is filled with designs of flowers that grow in the Middle East, such as jasmine, daffodils, and others, spreading from the side of the walls to the middle of the courtyard.
The mosque as a whole has a capacity of approximately 55,000 worshipers.
On the sides of the courtyard, there is a stunning view that resembles a great mosaic panel, where there are minarets with a height of up to 106 m, distinguished by a mixture of 3 different styles of Islamic architecture, such as the Fatimid, Ottoman and Mamluk styles, at the top of these minarets are crowns made of 24 carat gold plates, and 82 domes of different sizes are also topped with 24 carat gold plates that add value and attractive appearance, which is the world’s largest domes of the Mughal style.
Beneath these domes are the stunning columns, which are characterized by their design topped by a figure derived from palm trees, as an expression that palm trees were in the past in the United Arab Emirates region an essential source of food and housing. When looking up, you find the hollows of the domes that top these columns, these hollows are designed with Moroccan gypsum and Quranic verses written in three different scripts, including the Naskh script (the script in which the Holy Qur’an was written).
Outside this courtyard you find the “reflective basins”, which were designed because water basins are considered a major and essential element in Islamic gardens, and they were named by this name because in the evening, when looking at them, you find them like a mirror in which the image of the columns is reflected, with the help of the lighting towers there, which they called “lunar illumination” because they designed these towers for a wonderful reason, which is to simulate the rotational movement of the moon, for example, when the moon is in the shape of a crescent, the reflection on the mosque will be blue, with the first quarter moon, the reflection will be blue-gray, while with the full moon, the reflection on the mosque will be bright white, and certainly this lighting appears in the evening, coinciding with the appearance of the moon.
Inside the mosque, there are many glass doors made of Italian (Murano) glass, these doors consist of 3 glass layers, and the layers in the middle are decorated with designs in the form of flowers and mosaics, these doors lead to the main Musalla of the mosque.
This dazzling, huge, wonderful Musalla covers an area of more than 5000 square meters, to accommodate a number of up to 8000 worshipers, this Musalla in which Friday prayers, Eid prayers, Tarawih prayers and Tahajjud prayers are held in the holy month of Ramadan, this hall includes the world’s largest hand-made carpet, which was sewn by about 1,200 women, and it took them two years, this amazing carpet is made of 80% New Zealand wool and a mixture of 20% wool and cotton. This carpet is characterized by its floral designs and colors similar to those found on the chandeliers in the mosque, in addition to the presence of lines directing worshipers towards the Qibla wall.
This wall is adorned with the 99 names of God, and it was written in Kufic script by the Emirati calligrapher, Muhammad Al-Tamimi. In the middle of this wall, we find a stunning mihrab that was designed from 24-carat gold plates and covered with glass mosaics, and this mihrab is designed in the form of a Beeswax hanging from which golden lines to represent rivers of honey and white lines to represent rivers of milk.
Next to this mihrab is the pulpit that is used to deliver sermons, this pulpit was made of American cedar wood, and was decorated with ghost-plant and white gold plates covered with glass mosaics.
In the ceiling of the hall, there is a chandelier designed in the form of an inverted palm tree, among seven chandeliers in the mosque, weighing 12 tons. These chandeliers are made in Germany, specifically Munich, of gilded steel. This chandelier is in the form of an inverted palm tree, from which crystal balls hang, representing palm fruits.
In the interior of the mosque, there is a number of columns of up to 96 columns, all of which are inlaid with light and dark ghost-plant, and these columns are made of Macedonian marble, the ghost-plant is used abundantly in the interior designs of the mosque.
As for the eastern foyer of the mosque, it is characterized by its designs inspired by the flowers that grow in the Arabian Peninsula, specifically the desert of the Emirates, such as the bindweeds and others, with which its ground and walls are covered, the ground is full of flowers using the inlay technique, while in the walls, the protrusion technique is used to give a distinctive look.
The mosque opens its doors to visitors daily (from nine AM until ten PM), with the exception of blessed Fridays, when visitors are welcomed in two periods, (the first from nine AM until twelve PM), (and the second period after the end of Friday prayers from three PM until ten PM).
While in the month of Ramadan, the permitted visitation time is (from ten AM until six PM), and after the completion of the Tarawih prayer, the visitation begins again (from nine thirty PM until one AM).
Attached buildings of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
This mosque features a market, this market is distinguished from the outside by its shape that appears in the form of an amazing dome, inside which you will find shops for various products that you may want to buy, such as clothes, perfumes, and there are supermarket, many restaurants and cafes, and an entertainment arena for children.
There is also a library specialized in the sciences and arts of Islamic civilization, this library offers an exceptional experience for its visitors as it provides audio and visual materials in addition to including books in various fields. This library is closed on Saturdays and Sundays of every week, and welcomes visitors the rest of the days (from nine AM until six PM).
When you visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, you will find an empowered group of guides who are fluent in Arabic, English, and Spanish to take you on an interesting and informative tour inside this inspiring Islamic architectural masterpiece.