Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque will be one of the largest Mosques in the world; able to accommodate more than 30,000 worshipers. We were there, along with hundreds of non-Muslim Westerners to see the grandeur and experience what the buzz is all about.
13 FACTS ABOUT THE ABU DHABI GRAND MOSQUE
1. The structure covers an area of more than 22,000 square metres and some 210,000 cubic metres of concrete and 33,000 tonnes of steel reinforcement was used in its construction.
2. The beautiful Mosque is completely clad in marble and also features intricate Islamic decoration and carvings as well as extensive landscaping works. The mosque design has different artistic style taken from all over the world. The outside marble is from Greece, interior marbles are from China, Italy and Morocco.
3. The mosque consists of forty-five small domes in addition to nine large ones. It boasts of having many features like stained glass panels, sand-colored walls and wooden shutters.
4. The Moroccan dome is not the largest in the world but definitely one of the most beautiful.
5. The largest dome holding a world record, is 32.8 in diameter, 85 m from ground to top, from ground to the middle, is 70 m. The dome is made in site and made by Moroccan designers.
Intricate work of the ceiling:
6. The mosque’s stonework is by Henraux of Querceta, Italy who made headlines in the international stone industry for his work in two enormous stone mosque projects in Mecca and Madina, Saudi Arabia.
7. The huge crystal chandelier in the main prayer hall, one of seven German-made chandeliers that costs more than eight million dollars. It is 10-metre (32.8 feet) tall, 10-metre wide and weighs nine tonnes. It is made up of millions of Swarovski crystals and 24K plated gold.
8. The wall design is taken from Sheikh Zayed’s love for the environment.
9. The 96 columns inside and 1,048 outside is decorated with thousands of rare and semi-precious stones like mother of pearl, agate, jasper and amethyst.
10. The centrepiece is a 6,000 square metre (64,583 square feet) hand-made Persian carpet, said to be the biggest in the world. More than 1,200 women from the Khorasan region in eastern Iran spent two years weaving the carpet, which weighs 45 tonnes and cost more than 8.5 million dollars.
11. The whole carpet area in the main prayer hall can accommodate up to 5,000 worshipers.
12. The Abu Dhabi Grand mosque, named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan,the UAE’s first president was also ruler of the oil-rich emirate of Abu Dhabi. When fully completed, it will be the third largest mosque in the world.
13. But unlike other mosques all over the world, what makes this mosque unique is that it is not off-limits to non-Muslims. In fact they are open to anyone wanting to know more about Islam, or simply want to see what’s inside a mosque (this was out of the ordinary, though). However, there are rules. Ladies have to wear an abaya (black robe and head dress – provided at the entrance) and slippers/shoes are not allowed inside. And non-Muslims must not touch the Koran, the Muslim holy book, copies of which are stacked in every prayer room. My mom and I were able to experience what it feels like to be covered in black cloth from head to toe.