A Guide to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque | ExpatWoman.com

A Guide to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Here are some interesting facts about the Grand Mosque that you might not have known

Posted on

13 November 2013

Last updated on 8 January 2018
A Guide to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The Facts

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was initiated by the late President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and his final resting place is located on the grounds. The mosque is the key place of worship for Friday gathering and Eid prayers. This masterpiece is arguably one of the most important architectural treasures of contemporary UAE society - and one of the most beautiful in the world. Construction began in November 1996, and the internal prayer halls were initially opened for worship Eid Al Adha 2007.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque's design and construction 'unites the world', using artisans and materials from many countries including Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, Turkey, Malaysia, Iran, China, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Greece and United Arab Emirates. More than 3,000 workers took part in the construction of the Mosque. Natural materials were chosen for much of its design, including marble stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics. Its archways are quintessentially Moorish and its minarets classically Arab. The design of the Mosque can be best described as a fusion of Arab, Mughal and Moorish architecture.

See also: Pictures from our visit to The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The mosque is large enough to accommodate over 40,000 worshipers. There are four minarets on the four corners of the courtyard, which rise about 107 m in height. The courtyard, with its floral design, measures about 17,000 m2, and is considered to be the largest example of marble mosaic in the world.

As one of the most visited buildings in the UAE, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center was established 2008 to manage the day to day operations, not only as a place of worship and Friday gathering, but has been a place of learning and discovery through its education and visitor programs. The library, located in the north minaret serves the community with classic books and publications addressing a range of Islamic subjects: sciences, civilization, calligraphy, the arts, coins and includes some rare publications dating back more than 200 years! In reflection of the diversity of the Islamic world and the United Arab Emirates, the collection comprises of material in a broad range of languages including Arabic, English, French, Italian, Spanish, German and Korean.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has many special and unique elements:

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The green carpet is made of tons of fine cotton, superior silk and soft wool, and is a reflection of the roof mosaics and chandeliers. The carpet’s design was created by a sophisticated computer system and was handmade by around 1,200-1,300 carpet knotters and includes 25 natural colors. The raw material of these colors comes from the roots, the peels and the branches of different kinds of trees and plants. Two different kinds of fine wool, brought from New Zealand and Iran, were used in the manufacturing of the carpet.

One of the unique features is the subtlety of the prayers’ lines knotted into the carpet itself. The indication lines do not detract from the design, although when the prayers commence, worshippers can easily identify the lines in which to stand. The size of the carpet is 5,700 square meters and it was manufactured in approximately 20 months.

Approx. 30 tons of wool and 15 tons of cotton were used in manufacturing the carpet. 5,000,000,000 knots!

The mosque has seven chandeliers imported from Germany that incorporate millions of Swarovski crystals, the largest has a 10 m diameter and a 15 m height and weighs over 9 tonnes .

The pools along the arcades reflect the Mosque’s spectacular columns, which become even more glorious at night. The unique lightning system was designed by lightning architects Jonathon Speirs and and are designed to reflect the phases of the moon. Beautiful bluish gray clouds are projected in lights onto the external walls and get brighter and darker according to the phase of the moon. When the moons crescent is small the clouds are darker and gradually becomes lighter as the moon becomes full

The 96 columns in the main prayer hall are clad with marble and inlaid with mother of pearl, one of the few places in the world where you will see this craftsmanship. The 99 names (qualities or attributes) of Allah (God) are featured on the Qibla wall in traditional Kufi calligraphy, The Qibla wall also features subtle fibre-optic lighting, which is integrated as part of the organic design.

The Experience

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Whether you are somewhere else in the UAE, or in Abu Dhabi, a visit to the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque is certainly a trip worth making, it is absolutely stunning. As you approach the mosque you will be met by one of the custodians and directed to where the ladies must put on Abaya and head covering, the ladies who are managing this section and really helpful and will assist with getting the ‘headgear’ right, so it will not slip off!

Likewise, if you have men in your party wearing shorts, they too will be asked to cover up and will be able to wear the long white traditional garment called a Thobe/Kandura/Dishdasha. Before you go inside the prayer hall you will be given a bag for your shoes. You are at liberty to take photos of yourselves once you are suitably dressed, although you must always be careful not to take pictures of other people (especially ladies) without their permission. It is also to be noted that you must respect the privacy of people who are there to pray, and not be taking their pictures, and please…maintain a decent distance.

The atmosphere at the mosque is the thing that creates the most impression, there is a tranquility and stillness that is palpable, even for non Muslims, the peace and calm of the surroundings overrides the sometimes many tourists and various coming and goings! It seems to be a very spiritual place. Walking the halls and courtyard is a very pleasant experience, even in the heat of the day, there seems to be a breeze blowing though the columns. The long covered lobbies surrounding the main courtyard are absolutely lovely; you have a feeling of being ‘back in time’ and get a real sense of Arabia!

There are many custodians around and these men and ladies are quite willing to answer any questions you may have about the mosque, you can of course take one of the guided visits throughout the day.

The main prayer hall is STUNNING! A beautiful space, walking the cool marble outer hall to go inside, you get a sense of calm, and once your bare feet step on to the soft as silk Persian carpet your senses change gear. It is such a fantastic realization of one man’s dream to create a place of prayer like no other. The carpet is a reflection of the decoration on the roof, and the chandeliers are reflected in the weave and design of the carpet, absolutely awe inspiring. You will be able to take as many photos as you want, and again, you must bear in mind the privacy of others. Visiting the mosque during the day and in the evening are two quite different experiences, and if you are here in Abu Dhabi any length of time, it is well worth doing both.

Opening hours: 9am-8pm daily (except Friday mornings open only to worshippers).
                       During Ramadan, timings are 9am-12nn.

Tel: 02 800 555
Email: [email protected]