Someone please pick my mouth up from the ground.
I’m trying to recall if I’ve ever been inside a mosque before, but I’m quite certain this is my first time being in one of this calibre. The Sheikh Zhayed Grand Mosque is without a doubt a must-see when you visit Abu Dhabi. Whatever your religion might be, it doesn’t change the fact that this mosque is a work of art that deserves to be appreciated with an open mind. Hopefully my photographs will convince you.
Before we get on with it, here’s an important note when visiting the mosque: Wear proper attire! Women must be covered from head to toe. Literally. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts that are not skintight, then wear a scarf or burka on the head to hide majority of the hair. Sandals are okay as far as I know. Men must also wear long pants and proper shirts. When we are in the house of another, we must never lose sight of respect.
The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is named after the late president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who wanted to build a place that showcases the cultural diversity of Islam side by side with modern architecture and art. The result is the largest and grandest mosque in the United Arab Emirates today. It took 11 years for the mosque to be completed, from 1996 to 2007. Sadly Sheikh Zayed passed away in 2004 before he could see the completed structure, but his final resting place is at the grounds right beside the mosque.
The mosque is built over a 30-acre expanse of land and looks incredible even from far away. It looks incredible no matter what angle you look at it to be honest.
In building the mosque, they took the concept of “uniting the world” to heart by making sure that parts of the mosque were built using materials not just from the UAE, but from different countries as well– carpets from Iran and New Zealand; Swarovski crystal chandeliers from Germany; marble from Macedonia and Italy, and so forth. The craftsmanship and design of most detail-work inside the mosque is said to be inspired from Morocco, India, Algeria, and Pakistan.
Look at how incredible that is.
I also spend quite a good amount of time looking up at the ceilings and the inside of the domes of the mosque, simply because they are quite a sight to behold.
The ponds along the courtyard reflect the numerous columns in the mosque, and in the daylight the water is a crisp and cool blue. But they say that in the evening this area becomes quite beautiful. I was researching on YouTube when I came across this video of UAE’s National Day celebration in 2011, wherein they mounted an insanely incredible light show in the evening. Seriously you guys, WATCH IT!
My favourite part of the mosque are the marble columns with paintings of flowers. These paintings follow the same colour scheme that can be found all throughout the mosque, and as you can see, all of them are hand-painted with much care. Just wow.
Those leaf details on the crown of each column are not only stunning and intricate, they are made out of real gold.
The pure marble tiles on the main plaza have these gorgeous floral designs extending from end to end.
Look at this gorgeous piece of tile mosaic work on the walls.
Even the drinking fountain and comfort room look incredible. Like any proper mosque they have a place where you can cleanse your feet before entering the prayer rooms.
Now we make our way to the main prayer hall, which is the only one that is open to the public. Before entering, you must remove your shoes.
I don’t think there are that many words I can say to truly describe the beauty of this place, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking for a while…
This is the main hall where apparently the carpet is the largest in the world.
Anytime the sun shines through the windows made of colourful glass mosaics, there is a certain magical glow.
I do believe this room below is my favourite thanks to the walls and how the windows glow with light.
Here’s an interesting-looking Swarovski chandelier. It’s quite different to the one above but I think I like this one better for some reason.
And then I exit the prayer hall wishing I can paint my room yellow and fill the walls with paintings of flowers too.
My visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was definitely an eye-opener for me. It’s not just about being surrounded by these stunning works of art inside an equally amazing piece of architecture, but seeing how much love and thought has been given to this place of worship is quite inspiring.
UAE HERITAGE VILLAGE
Before I finally and formally end my Dubai-Abu Dhabi Travel Blog series, I thought it would be nice to finish my last Abu Dhabi post with some shots of its skyline just like I did with Dubai. And the place where I got to capture it is called the UAE Heritage Village.
Caught our tour guide in a very fashionable pose didn’t we?
So this area is fashioned after a traditional oasis village. Kind of like a blast from the past of how desert life was like in a way. You get stalls selling wares, but you can also explore the workshops on the other side of the village. You can take your pick from metal work, weaving, pottery, and others.
I can vouch that the craftsmen are more than happy to show you the process they undergo to create their handiwork. The potter even took us behind his workshop and showed us where he heats and keeps his clay works!
If you’re not much of a handiwork enthusiast, you can make your way to the beach, which lies right behind the village. Frolic in the water, or take photographs of the skyline!
My goodness. Why am I hit with a sudden wave of nostalgia right now? I see the photograph below every single day as the wallpaper of my phone, but somehow when it’s blown up like this the effect is different.
I stand by what I said during the very beginning of this travel blog series: I never thought that being in a desert country like the UAE, moving through Dubai and Abu Dhabi especially, would be one of my favourite experiences so far in all my travels. I’m both relieved and a little sad that I am done with this series– relieved because it feels like an accomplished homework; sad because I will stop reliving the moments I spent in these places… At least for now.
I had a lot of fun putting all this together, and I hope that you enjoyed reading it too! 🙂
Here’s my travel video that pretty much sums up all the highlights of my trip. Check it out to know what to expect in my Dubai/Abu Dhabi Travel Blog series!
Other posts in this series:
- Part 1: Exploring the city + Souks of Dubai
- Part 2: A bit of history + views around Jumeirah
- Part 3: Things to do inside the malls in Dubai
- Part 4: A night and half a day at Atlantis The Palm
- Part 5: The awesomest Yellow Boat Experience
- Part 6: Dancing in the desert of Dubai
- Part 7: Crossing over to Abu Dhabi