The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is amazingly beautiful and arouses devotion – with 82 bright white domes, golden colonnades and huge marble flower décor that expand on large central courtyard. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, considered the main place of worship in the United Arab Emirates, is also the biggest mosque in the country. It expands on 555.000m2, with for impressive main minarets that reach 106 meters in height.
A little known characteristic of the mosque is its unique lighting system, designed to reflect lunar phases. There are 22 lighting towers that imitate light “bluish-gray” cloud colours at the front side of the mosque, and they change accordingly to lunar phases each night. While you move away and admire the beauty of this temple. you may enjoy incredible architecture inspired by the founding father and the first president of the UAE, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. His vision was to build a mosque that would encompass the cultural diversity of the Islamic world that joined the old and the new universe of architecture and art.
Construction lasted for 11 years, and the design was inspired by Arabian calligraphy. The mosque was opened in 2007, and it attracts over 4.5 million believers and tourists annually. To this day it has been the most visited attraction in Abu Dhabi. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a landmark of the capital city, and it is opened for free daily visits.
You may walk around the mosque and its estate on your own pace, but you may also take part in guided visits. Around sunset, the mosque is basked in beautiful lights which make it a perfect spot for photographers (you should visit around 17.00). Then, you may cross the street and you will encounter an impressive unity of art and architecture: the Wahat Al Karma Memorial is located there. The monument is devoted to the men who died for the UAE. Thirty-one enormous pillars plated with aluminum are reclined on each other, and form an intriguing arrangement. Go down to the Pavilion of Dignity and enjoy the moment.
Working hours of the mosque:
From Saturday to Thursday, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
On Friday, the mosque remains closed in the morning and opens after 4:30 p.m.
During the month of Ramadan, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 2 p.m.
When Ramadan is over, the mosque remains closed on Fridays.
Photo credit: Daniel Olah