23 May 2024


Spent a few hours at this modern mosque. Very different to mosques I saw in Central Asia.

Here’s sone blurb from Wikipedia : The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is located in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. The largest mosque in the country, it is the key place of worship for daily prayers.

History The Grand Mosque was constructed between 1994 and 2007. The building complex measures approximately 290 by 420 m (950 by 1,380 ft), covering an area of more than 12 hectares (30 acres), excluding exterior landscaping and vehicle parking. The main axis of the building is rotated about 12° south of true west, aligning it in the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The project was launched by the late president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who wanted to establish a structure that would unite the cultural diversity of the Islamic world with the historical and modern values of architecture and art. In 2004, Sheikh Zayed died and was buried in the courtyard of the mosque.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center (SZGMC) offices are located in the west minarets. SZGMC manages the day-to-day operations and serves as a center of learning and discovery through its educational cultural activities and visitor programs. The library, located in the northeast minaret, serves the community with classic books and publications addressing a range of Islamic subjects: sciences, civilization, calligraphy, the arts, and coins, including some rare publications. The collection comprises material in a broad range of languages, including Arabic, English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Korean. For two years running, it was voted the world’s second favourite landmark by TripAdvisor

Dimensions and statistics The mosque is large enough to accommodate over 40,100 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 107 m (351 ft) in height. The courtyard, with its floral design, measures about 17,000 m2 (180,000 sq ft), and is considered to be the largest example of marble mosaic in the world.

I must confess that the building was spectacular and i wondered how more spectecular it might feel if it was devoted to secular pursuits, such at the arts or a museum. Maybe, one day, when the Arab people throw off the shackles of religion, this building, and many more like them, will be repurposed and humanised. However, I won’t hold my breath!

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