Before visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi I had scrolled through hundreds of photos (hundreds!) and I was afraid that the over-exposure would result in a bit of an anti-climax on arriving there. Luckily this was not the case.
We had passed the grand minarets numerous times. Driving down Sheikh Zayed road at any time of the day, you can’t miss it. It’s a refreshing sight of purity amongst the tall, modern skyscrapers that dominate most Emirati city skylines.
The lovely Lorraine advised us the best time to visit was at night time. However, due to our tight schedule we were only able to make one trip over, and we decided that the best time for us, as Muslims, was to visit for Friday afternoon prayers.
The largest mosque in the UAE, designed to fit around 40,000 worshippers, it really is a sight to behold. The flowing water, the pristine white wash, the calligraphy, it’s a place of tranquillity and calm for any visitor. Mo was quick to point out it looked just like ‘Agrabah Palace’ from Aladdin (minus the minarets), which makes sense as the building design is a hybrid of Persian, Moghul and Moorish architecture.
The mosque is home to the largest carpet in the world, created by an Iranian designer, the third largest chandelier in the world can be seen in the central prayer hall and the lighting system installed here is phenomenal!! (I’ve only witnessed this on a video and when driving past on an evening).
Having worked in the lighting industry, I am obsessed with the scheme used, designed by world famous lighting architects Speirs & Majors, it really is creativity at its best. As the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, they took their inspiration from the phases of the moon. The external hues mimic the different stages, so every couple of nights it’ll lighten or darken accordingly. GENIUS.
Of course being a mosque, there is a dress code. We were arriving for prayer time so I was already donning my abaya and scarf, but I believe ladies can actually borrow cover ups once you’re there. Not only should you be appropriately dressed, but you must also behave yourself. There is to be no swearing, no loud ringtones, no smoking, no food or drink. It’s a religious site that expects to be respected (as you should any other!).
Speaking of prayer time – if you get a chance do try to coincide your visit with one of the five daily prayers (Friday afternoon is the busiest). For Muslims, its always nice to pray in any mosque amongst fellow Muslims. And for non-Muslims, its a great opportunity to witness the Islamic way of prayer and how even a large congregation of people from different backgrounds and ethnicities can stand alongside each other and follow a harmonious pattern in perfect sync.
Here are a few of my favourite snaps from our visit:
As a Muslim, I am lucky enough to have access to what I believe are the most incredibly beautiful (traditional) architectural creations in the world – the two holy mosques in Saudi Arabia. But for those who can’t make it there, Sheikh Zayed has created the next best thing.
An up to date Moorish-inspired masterpiece, perfect for those who want a peaceful place to reflect.
All the pictures on this post are from my own collection, however I would encourage you ALL to check out the lovely Emma’s post and marvel at her stunning photography – it blew me away!! – Click here to see what I mean
Have you visited? Did you think it lived up to its images?