Many things in United Arab Emirates are specific for some reason, some are biggest in the world, the others tallest and some most expensive. During my stay in this part of the world, I have visited also the Grand Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi and I was absolutely amazed by it’s monumentaliy and beauty. No matter how modern and fast growing UAE is, they keep their traditions over hundred years till now.
It is pretty simple to describe this mosque – absolutely stunning and breathtaking! I knew there is a large mosque in Abu Dhabi, before I came, but I wasn’t expecting this. Really. This white beauty is quite out of the city center, but you can get here by public transport or take taxi. Bus drivers will gladly explain you what bus you have to board and sell you the ticket. Our bus driver was so gentleman and even told us after 20 minutes ride, that the next stop is Grand Mosque. I would find this normal, but he did not say a word when he stopped on the other stations. Locals know, we didn’t and he helped us. Nice. As is this mosque big, you may have problem to find the entrance, as we had. Fortunately we met a couple and a German man who had the same problem and we found it together, just had to walk all around the mosque what took us approximately 20 minutes. Never mind, we got here.
Before you enter the mosque, you have to accept the rules. No visible shoulders for men and women, no shorts and skirts and women have to cover their heads, as well. I like the fact, that you are in super modern city of 21.st century, but still, you have to accept some rules that have been here since ever. This mosque is that big, that can accommodate more than 40 000 worshipers and the main hall can accommodate more than 7 000 worshipers. There is also only female prayer hall, were men are not allowed to enter. No exceptions.
This Grande Mosque consist from four minarets, about 107 meters high and for me, the most memorable part is a main courtyard, which is 17 000 square meters large and the floor is designed by largest mosaic in the world. This mosque is also known because of it’s chandeliers. There are seven chandeliers and that one, located in main prayers hall is largest in the world. Its weight is 12 tons and it’s really gorgeous! All chandeliers cost 30 million AED ( 6 million EUR). Under this world’s largest chandelier is world’s largest hand-knotted carpet. It took about 8 months to design this carpet, and to knot it was about 12 months. It occupies 5 700 square meters and consist from 70% of wool and the rest is cotton. What I was surprised much about was, that you can walk on this carpet. All you need to do is to take off your shoes and enjoy waling on world’s largest carpet. It’s very fluffy and soft, and I could imagine to have it in my living room :) This carpet is really big and sometimes I questioned myself, how did they got it here, since it must be super heavy.
Once you are here, you can walk all around the Mosque without guidance, but you can borrow audio guide. If you are man and thinking about to enter female prayer hall, forget about it. There is a guy standing in front of the staircase leading to the hall and watching over the situation. We saw a male tourist trying to enter, but he was immediately stopped by this guy. There is no way, until you dress up like woman :) One thing I didn’t like. There is an local airport very close to the mosque and you are constantly rushed by planes landing here. During our visit, there was one plane that was keep flying over us, very low. If you are aviation fun, you will appreciate it. Since you are in Arabic country, in Mosque, you will hear prayers if you are lucky. Since they pray five times a day, it is pretty easy to catch them. No matter if you are in Mosque, old town or shopping mall, you will hear it everywhere.
The visit of Grand Mosque of Sheikh Zayed in Abu Dhabi is free of charge. Before your vist just consider what to wear. Since the mosque is located quiet out of the city centre, manage your visit and use taxi or public transportation. You can take as many pictures as you like in the area and wear off your shoes when walking on the carpet.
Milan Bardun 2014 – because it’s better to travel, than to arrive.