Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is in Abu Dhabi and is the largest Mosque in the UAE and the 8th largest in the world. It is also open to the public and they offer free informational tours at certain times each day. We went today and caught the 2pm tour. There are a few rules you need to adhere to when visiting the mosque, the most important being that women need to wear the traditional Abaya and cover their hair with a scarf. These are provided for you or you can bring your own.

Fatima and I appropriately covered for our trip to the Mosque.
 The Mosque is stunning and covers almost 5 football fields. It can accommodate 40,000 worshippers with the main prayer hall alone able to accommodate over 7000. There are separate prayer rooms for men and for women and the reason is that when Muslims pray, they sit in a row touching shoulders and legs. This is to preserve the idea that everyone is connected and together. Because this could be awkward and distracting for a male outside the household to be touching a female, they have separate rooms.

The Islamic faith requires you to pray 5 times each day, and this clock in the outer prayer room indicates the times and names of each prayer in English and Arabic. It also shows both the traditional calendar and the Islamic calendar, which follows the cycles of the moon rather than the sun.

The exterior of the mosque is stunning with 82 domes decorated with gold on the top, about 1000 columns and miles and miles of Italian marble inlaid with all kinds of decorations. Here are a few shots of the exterior.
One of the minarets where the call to prayer is usually conducted. Because the city and the mosque are so big, they use a microphone and speakers from the interior rather than ask the muezzin to climb up here 5 times each day. 

A few of the 82 domes.

This is a tiny section of the inlaid marble floor ... of the OUTDOOR courtyard - really beautiful. The lines you see are so that when they clean (2 times per day) the water can drain through these cracks in the floor.
Just a beautiful random view - the day was perfect - sunny and about 78 with a nice breeze.
And that was just a glimpse of the exterior. The interior is even more stunning and before we could head in there, we had to remove our shoes.
This was the decoration on the walls - inlaid some kind of  stone - really intricate work.
And this was a similar design on the floor done in inlaid colored marble.  No wonder they want everyone to remove their shoes! :) 
This is actually a shot of the ceiling - there isn't one inch of space in this place that isn't beautifully decorated.
This is part of the carpet in the outer prayer room.
This is the outer prayer room which can accommodate 1960 worshippers.
Inside the main prayer room, which can accommodate over 7000. The columns here are also the air conditioning system for the room.
This is the largest chandelier in the world spanning 10 meters in diameter and 15 meters high and weighing over 9 tons. It was made in Germany and cost about $8.2 million. The photo doesn't even begin to do it justice. And this is just one of 3 like it (the other 2  a bit smaller) in the main prayer room.
This is the equivalent of a Christian alter area. The inscriptions on the wall here are the 99 names for God in the Islamic religion. The gold area is recessed and it's where the prayer leader speaks from on Fridays. It's all inlaid gold and glass and just stunning - almost looks liquid.
It's really a beautiful place and the photos don't do it justice. Here are a few more random shots from our visit.

1 comment:

  1. The opulance of the mosque and various other locations you have photographed is amazing!!! Just don't get it to that degree anywhere in the US. Beautiful building.