If you are visiting the UAE, consider taking a 1.5 hr ride to Abu Dhabi to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. The sheer opulence and beauty is truly breathe-taking. Entrance and guided tours are free. In our opinion, a definite Must see. Remember that this a holy place and be respectful. Appropriate dress can be provided.
Note: check the guided tour schedules as they vary throughout the year.
1. The project was launched bySheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late president of the United Arab Emirates. He wanted to create a that united the cultural diversity of the Islamic world with the modern values of art and history.
2. The construction began in 1996 and was completed over a period of almost 12 years, covering an area of 22,412m2 and costing approx 2.5 billion AED.
3. The Mosque can accommodate 41,000 worshippers.
4. The main dome is the largest mosque dome in the world.
5. Seven gold-plated crystal chandeliers garnish the mosque in different sizes, embellished with millions of Swarovski crystals.
6. The main prayer hall features a 5,625m2 large carpet, hand knotted by approx 1,300 Iranian craftsmen using 35 tons of wool and 12 tons of cotton. It’s estimated value is 30 million AED.
7. Natural materials were chosen for much of the design and construction due to their long-lasting qualities. These included marble, stone, gold, semi-precious stones and crystal. It was built by an Italian company using 3,000 workers and approx 38 contracting companies.
8. The courtyard is made up of 1,048 columns and 82 domes. The domes are clad with marble and inlaid with mother of pearl.
9. The mosque is decorated with Greek and Italian white marble, considered to be the purest in the world.
10. Rihanna was criticised for posing in a provocative manner with the Mosque in the background during a private visit and was asked to leave by staff following the incident. Selena Gomez was also criticised for revealing her ankles on photographs taken at the mosque for her Instagram page.