In a 7-part series, Khaleej Times picks the 7 best mosques from the 7 emirates in the country.
The magnificent, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, is a very important place for worshippers, besides being the biggest attraction in the Capital for visitors and residents who come to admire its sheer size and the intricate craftsmanship.
Made up of mostly natural materials such as marble, stone, gold, crystals and semi-precious stones, the grand mosque is so beautiful, huge, and a wonderful example of modern Islamic architecture. It was built as a monument to consolidate Islamic culture and a prominent centre for Islamic sciences.
Located, along the Abu Dhabi-Dubai road (Airport Road) the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the UAE as well as one of the biggest mosques in the world, is spread across 12 hectares of land.
Opened in 2007, the mosque is large enough to accommodate over 40,000 worshippers, while the main prayer hall can hold over 7,000. There are two smaller prayer halls, with a capacity of 1,500 each, one of which is the women’s prayer hall.
There are four minarets on the four corners of the courtyard which rise about 107m 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. The beautiful carpet in the main prayer hall is the world’s largest hand-knitted carpet.
The main prayer hall is dominated by one of the world’s largest chandeliers – 10 metres in diameter, 15 metres in height and weighing 12 tonnes.
Reflective pools surround the mosque, amplifying its beauty. The striking white and gold colours shining in the sun are transformed at night by a unique lightning system, which reflects the phases of the moon.
The mosque’s first ceremony was the funeral of Sheikh Zayed, who was buried at the site.
The mosque receives more than 30,000 worshippers daily to attend services there, with the major ones being the iftar meal – the biggest in the UAE, and Salat taraweeh (Ramadan night prayer).
Visiting hours for non-Muslims during Ramadan are reduced from 9am to 2pm, while there are no visits on Fridays throughout the holy month of Ramadan.
A taskforce of more than 550 volunteers from 20 public and private bodies are supervising the Ramadan programmes at the mosque. Twelve fully equipped air-conditioned tents receive more than 27,000 fasting people throughout Ramadan. Iftar meals are distributed in collaboration with the Armed Forces Officers’ Club in Abu Dhabi.