Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is probably one of the grandest and most beautiful piece of architecture I have laid my eyes on in person. How could it not? More than 3,000 workers and 38 contracting companies globally took part in the creation of the mosque using materials such as marble stone, gold, semi-precious jewels, ceramics, and crystals. Let’s not forget the gorgeous floral design!
Some noteworthy features on its grandeur:
- World’s largest carpet at 60,570 sq feet, weighing up to 35 ton! It took even 2 years just to complete!
- There are 7 grand Swarovski crystal chandeliers, and the largest one is the 3rd largest in the world with a 10m diameter and 15m height. Personally I liked the smaller ones they had more.
- The mosque has 96 columns inside and 1096 columns outside clad with marble and mother of pearl and also decorated intricately with floral jewels and gold!! So gorgeous, definitely my favourite feature of the mosque.
One thing I do want to gripe on is, I wish we didn’t have to wear an abaya. I know it is their culture and we are wearing it to respect them. I don’t have a problem with that, the problem I have is that these rules seem to apply more strictly to women. If the same rules on modesty were were applied all across the board, then I’m cool with that….but unfortunately I find that was not the case for most mosques or even with most local families that I saw in public. Even though I was wearing long pants, I was told my leggings were “too tight”. We also had to cover all our hair, while men seemed to be okay dressed however, even with shorts and sandals. Surprisingly however, the abaya was not too uncomfortably hot to wear as it was very long and flowy, allowing wind to flow through and giving a bit of a breeze.
We visited a few mosques and even the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding and I think the tour they provided at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was the most informative on their culture and practice.
The most interesting fact to me was that the Imam (leader of prayer) always is in the position where their back is facing the Kaaba in Mecca, so that all prayers are made facing in that direction. The Kaaba is a building inside Islam’s most sacred mosque in Saudi Arabia – admittedly this trip was the first time I’ve ever heard about any of this.