Eighty two domes. World’s largest chandelier in a mosque weighing 12 tons. World’s largest hand-knotted carpet at 5,700 square meters. A majestic architectural treasure of United Arab Emirates. “An expression of a visionary leader who conceived that the most gracious achievements start from the heart.”
Few minutes past 8AM last 27 February, 2014, Thursday, I left my flat in Deira, Dubai, where I am currently staying on a 90-day-Visit-Visa; hopped on the RTA bus C19 at one of the bus stops in Al Muraqqabat to Al Ghubaiba bus station. The trip went conveniently for about 45 minutes and a few dirhams deducted from my Nol RTA bus card. Prior heading to Abu Dhabi, I ate breakfast at a Pakistani-Arab-Indian eatery at the bus station. After 25 dirhams deducted again from my Nol bus card, a quick cat nap and exactly 2 hour bus ride, I arrived in Abu Dhabi bus Terminal in front of Al Wahda Mall just before lunch time.
Met up with my former student, France who’s working as a Pediatric Nurse and was treated to a sumptuous lunch. After long but memorable catching up and cups of latte and a pastry, I was fetched by my youngest brother, JC after his office hours. Finally, I was reunited with my brother, cousin and her family in their flat in Abu Dhabi! I spent my very first memorable weekend in Abu Dhabi! Happy times!
The following day, JC drove me and Marky around to a few of the grandest places in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates’ capital city. And one of those awe-inspiring must-visit-places that I thankfully set foot on was the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Almost an hour before twilight, with tail end of the winter in the emirates, I laid eyes on what I read as the pearl of the Arabian sea.
Red smoke, followed by somewhat greenish were infused generously into open air as we walked towards the entrance of the mosque. Marky said it might be the colors of the UAE flag, probably but we didn’t confirm.
I never counted the times I uttered, “Wow!” upon the sight of this magnificent place of worship. I’m not even a Muslim to be biased with such, but I was literally in awe from the time we got off the parking lot until the time we had to leave. Perhaps, my spontaneous child-like appreciation was not purely based on its grandiosity but the mere fact that I was there at that moment. I was breathing air at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Unbelievable!
I lived and worked in Malaysia for 3 years where Islamic mosques are also predominant structures but apparently, I’ve yet to see mosque with 82 domes! Purest white marble, onion shaped crowns and crescent shaped finials with gold-glass mosaic made everything stunningly beautiful!
I was mesmerized the whole time we were there but was halted by the fact that I’ve seen some foreign visitors and tourists at the mosque grounds who were posing for souvenir photos with both hands happily stretched and thrown widely in the air. Inappropriate acts much more, intimate behaviors like holding hands and kissing are unacceptable in any mosque for that matter. Remember that the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is not just a place of Tourism but primarily of worship and must be considered sacred at all times. Dress codes must be observed. Long, loose fitting, ankle length trousers or skirts for women and men. Women must wear a headscarf. Footwear must be removed prior entering the main prayer hall. Shoe racks are installed few steps before the facade of the mosque.
No corner inside the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was overlooked. Pure white huge pieces of marble with multicolored floral patterns clad the walls and the floor of the facade to just before the main prayer hall.
The largest of the seven (7) chandeliers weighing (inhale, ready?) 12 tons is majestically installed in the main prayer hall. Two similar but smaller version at 8 tons each are hanging inside the same hall. While the foyer entrances have small blue chandelier weighing maximum of 2 tons.
Grand in weight and mighty in structure, these chandeliers are made spectacularly wonderful with gilded stainless steel and brass, glass panels studded with Swarovski crystals.
Pulpit or Menbar is where the imam sits and addresses the volume of faithfuls. SZGM’s pulpit is located in front of the main prayer hall made of delicately carved cedar wood, featuring shell and floral design with inlaid mother of pearl, glass mosaic and white gold. While virtues and principles that guide Islam are inscribed in Arabic words on the wall of the main prayer hall.
Had I known earlier that the world’s largest carpet inside Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque costs a whopping, AED 30 Million, I would’ve requested JC & Marky for us to stay longer in order for me to plant my soles on that hand-knotted carpet that stretches 5,700 square meters made of 70% wool & 30% cotton, designed by third generation carpet maker and artists, Dr. Ali Khaliqui, and hand-crafted by more than a thousands artisans.
On usual circumstances, I rarely take a second look at chandeliers until I saw those in SZGM. They’re beyond beautiful!
“The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque represents great sentimental and moral value for the people of the UAE, and their leadership. It also constitutes one of the most prominent and beautiful architectural monuments in the world. Perhaps what is reflected in the Mosque, in terms of the unique beauty of its architecture, is an embodiment of such sentimental value. The Mosque also represents a fertile spiritual space, enriched throughout the ages by the shining inheritance of Islam. It seeks to truly reflect the open spirit of renaissance which has long inspired humanity with its great purity.” ~H.H. Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs (Sourced HERE).
The Grand Mosque was named after its Founding Father, the first President of UAE and the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who died in 02 November 2004; his mausoleum is situated at the north side of the mosque.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque isn’t only an incredibly iconic architectural masterpiece in UAE but a very symbolic and inspiring religious place that’s open for everyone to appreciate.
Admission Fee : None except for special exhibitions and events.General visiting hours are from Sat – Thurs 9am and 10pm and you may walk through on your own. Last entry is 9.30pm. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is closed for tourism activities (and open for worship) on Friday morning and opens again after 5pm.Complimentary Guided Tours of 60 minutes duration available from Saturday to Thursday at 10 AM and 11 AM in the morning and 4.30 pm in the evening.The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is accessible by buses, cars and taxi. Ample parking spaces are provided to visitors.For more details on HOW TO GET THERE and other pertinent info, visit its website : http://www.szgmc.ae/en/getting-to-the-mosque*All significant facts mentioned on this blog post were sourced from http://www.szgmc.ae/en/*This is NOT a sponsored post.>><<