Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fast and impressive facts about the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

When people ask me what to see in Abu Dhabi I always recommend a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

I have been there a few times myself and never get bored. This is really one of the finest structures in Abu Dhabi. A place where you can get a better understanding of the local culture and religion, as well as admire great beauty from just about any angle you look.

Most people do not know this, but the Grand Mosque started as a vision of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, known for adopting a tolerant version of Islamic faith and staying far away from fanaticism or extremism.

Sheikh Zayed imagined a place of worship that would help people come together, understand Islam and see it as a religion that has a message of peace, tolerance and diversity.

After his passing in 2004, Sheikh Zayed’s vision for the mosque was carried on by his sons who brought professionals and materials from all over the world to finalize their father’s dream.

Here are some fast and impressive facts for you. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque…

-   accommodates over 40,000 worshipers;

-   features 82 white marble domes of Moroccan design;

-   has more than 1,000 columns in the outer areas, with inlaid marble panels and decorated in a floral design with semi-precious stones, and 96 columns in the main prayer hall, each inlaid with mother of pearl;

-   displays the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet, designed by Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi and hand crafted by 1,300 artisans;

-   showcases the word’s largest chandelier, made in Germany with thousands of Swarovski crystals from Austria and glasswork from Italy;

-   includes materials such as marble, stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics in its design and construction;

-   uses a very special lighting system in evening hours that follows the phases of the moon – they gradually become lighter as the moon becomes full;

-   is the final resting place of the late visionary president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was buried in the courtyard of the Mosque.

Plan your visit:

The Grand Mosque offers daily complimentary ‘walk-in’ guided tours (Sunday through Thursday at 10am, 11am and 5pm / Friday at 5pm and 7:30pm / Saturday at 10am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 7:30pm).

You may also visit the Grand Mosque on your own. It is open daily, but closes several times during the day for prayer. So you better call ahead and check the timings for when you plan to visit.

Remember to dress respectfully – no shorts or skirts and covered shoulders. In any case, women will be given an abaya and sheila to wear, while men dressed inappropriately will be given a dish-dash to wear.

For more information: / +971 2 441 6444


  1. The chandelier is the second largest in the world. The largest is in Qatar. I was told by one of the mosque volunteers.

  2. This place looks pretty cool