This architectural work of art is one the world’s largest mosques, with a capacity for an astonishing 40,000 worshippers. It features 82 domes, over a 1,000 columns, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers and the world’s largest hand knotted carpet. The main prayer hall is dominated by one of the world’s largest chandeliers –10 metres in diameter, 15 metres in height and weighing twelve tonnes. The mosque’s first ceremony was the funeral of its namesake, Sheikh Zayed, who is buried at the site. (courtesy of Visit Abu Dhabi)
(Image credit: Shutterstock)
I first saw this mosque when I first came here in December of 2012. It was one of the itineraries my brother have prepared for us during our Christmas holiday. I think December is the perfect time to visit here because it’s cold even in the morning, it looks its best during the golden hour and even more picturesque at night.
The mosque is located in the capital city of the UAE which is Abu Dhabi and people from all over the world flock to the location even on an ordinary day. It’s open to everyone whatever your religion may be. The mosque is closed though on Friday mornings as it is open for worshippers only. It then opens to the public in the afternoon.
If you are a tourist or even if you’re a resident but you want to learn more about the history of the mosque, there are guided tours which are provided complimentary but you have to check the timings as it’s not offered every hour.
Before entering the mosque, you will have to undergo a security check where you are required to go through the xray machine. If you’re a woman, you must borrow an abaya in the office downstairs because you have to be fully covered from head to toe. If you’re a guy, you don’t need to borrow a kandura unless you are wearing shorts. And as you enter the mosque, you must remove your footwear and leave them at the shoe racks provided outside.
As in any city in the UAE, everyone must give utmost respect for their culture and belief and proper behaviour should be observed. Poses that are not suitable are definitely not allowed and there are security guards who will reprimand and check your phones and will ask you to delete any picture that they deem inappropriate. (Note: no wacky poses)
There was an incident before where Rihanna was asked to leave the mosque after her photoshoot because the staff said she did not ‘conform to conditions’ and it was done to protect the sanctuary of the place. There was also another incident involving Selena Gomez where she posted a picture on Instagram showing her ankles and that caused an uproar from the muslims in the country. She took the post down shortly.
So just a reminder to anyone who plans to visit the mosque, respect the sanctity of the place and have due regard for someone else’s religious beliefs. Just because we don’t share the same religious convictions or views doesn’t mean we have to clash and disrespect theirs. We should be tolerant of someone’s beliefs and accept their faith without prejudice.