The Great Sheikh Zayd Mosque
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The big Sheikh Zayd Mosque is the largest mosque in the UAE and one of the main sights of Abu Dhabi . And although the size of it is far from even the top ten in the world, it is exactly the most luxurious of all. Here you can see the world's largest mosaic of marble, the largest carpet and many other miracles.
A visit to the Great Sheikh Zayed Mosque is included in the compulsory program of all excursions around Abu Dhabi, this is a local landmark "must see". According to the latest statistics for 2013, the mosque was visited by 2 300 000 visitors, for comparison, the park Ferrari World per year is visited by about 1 000 000 people.
Named after the first president of the UAE and Emir of Abu Dhabi - Sheikh Zayed ibn-Sultan Al-Nahyan. This is his most famous and grandiose project.
How to get there
From the hotels of Abu Dhabi, the easiest way is to take a taxi. The price of the trip will depend on the distance - from 10 to 40 dirhams. For the current course see our article " Dirham UAE ", see the tariffs in our article " Taxis in the UAE ".
The cheaper way is by buses 32, 44 and 54. If any of them stops near the hotel, you will get for 4 dirhams per person. Buses run rarely (every 30 minutes or less).
From Dubai, you can take buses E100 (departs from Al Ghubaiba metro station) or E101 (departs from Ibn Battuta metro station). The scheme of the Metro in Dubai in Russian, see our article " Metro Dubai ", read the article " Transport between Dubai and Abu Dhabi ."
By bus E100 or E101 you need to reach the terminal station Abu Dhabi Bus Station. Further to the mosque, take a taxi for 30 dirhams or wait for buses 32, 44 and 54. If you know English, you can ask the driver to land near the Great Sheikh Zayd Mosque, but remember that he does not have to do this.
From Sharjah , Ajman , Umm al-Qaywain , Fujairah or Russ-al-Khaimah, we do not recommend traveling by ourselves. There is no direct transport to Abu Dhabi, the trip will be long and expensive. In this case, it is easier to book a sightseeing tour of Abu Dhabi.
Is free. If you want to get on a tour, it's also free.
The mosque is open from 9-00 to 22-00. But, there is an important nuance. Non-Muslims are allowed into the prayer hall only at a time when there are no prayers.
Fajr (the first prayer) ends with the dawn. Zuhr (second prayer) begins immediately after the zenith of the sun. If you want to get into the prayer hall, then you need to choose this time - between the dawn and the zenith of the sun . Moments of zenith and dawn can be found on the Internet on weather sites. For simplicity, you can remember that this time is approximately from 10-00 to 12-00.
On Fridays the yard can be viewed from 16-30 to 22-00. In the prayer hall, the entrance to non-Muslims is closed.
During the month of Ramadan, the courtyard can be viewed from 9-00 to 13-00. In the prayer hall, the entrance to non-Muslims is closed. On Friday in Ramadan, the mosque is closed to non-Muslims.
Excursions are free in English and Arabic. You need to arrive 15 minutes before the start of the tour and sign up with the guide at the eastern entrance.
Time of excursions: at 10-00, 11-00 and 16-45.
On Fridays: at 16-45 and 18-30.
On Saturdays: at 10-00, 11-00, 14-00, 16-45 and 18-30.
In Ramadan: at 10-00 and 11-00.
The tour lasts 45-60 minutes.
Rules and dress code
On the territory of the mosque it is impossible:
- Drink or eat;
- to smoke;
- To be inappropriately dressed, in the photo on the right is clearly shown the dress code, click on the photo to enlarge;
- take a photo of the grave of Sheikh Zayed Al-Nahyan;
- when entering the prayer hall, you need to take off your shoes;
- Any manifestation of tenderness, including easy embraces and even holding hands, is forbidden;
- you can not touch any details of the interior in the prayer hall;
- do not leave children unattended;
- You can not make noise, you should turn off your mobile phones;
- Naturally, here operates the entire list of rules of conduct in the UAE, which we considered in the article " What is not allowed in the UAE ";
Women should be closed hands to the wrists and feet to the feet. No decollete, open back, tight, transparent or translucent clothing. Men should be closed shoulders and knees.
If you are not allowed to dress, then at the entrance you can get abayu (for women) or dishdash (for men) for free. The head of a woman should be covered. If you did not take a handkerchief with you, you can take a free shail (kerchief) at the entrance.
A bit of history
Sheikh Zaid Ibn-Sultan Al-Nahyan wanted to create a center of Islamic culture in Abu Dhabi. In his plan, the new large mosque was supposed to combine ancient and modern Islamic architectural styles. Sheikh Zayd stressed in many of his speeches the connection between the past, the present and the future, always advocated the preservation and development of traditions. About him read our detailed article " Shaykh Zayd ibn-Sultan Al-Nahyan ".
The main artist of the project was the famous Syrian artist Yusuf Abdelky in the Islamic world. Planning for a new large mosque began in the late 80's and lasted about 10 years.
The main design ideas were taken from the architecture of the Great Moguls, the Alexandrian mosque in Egypt, the Indo-Islamic style of mosque architecture.
The influence of the Badshahi mosque style in Pakistan is strongly felt, especially in the cupolas and the shape of the courtyard. The arcades in the Sheikh Zayd mosque in the Moorish style, the minarets in classical Arabic.
The great Sheikh Zayd Mosque was planned and became a stunningly harmonious blend of styles from different eras and regions of the Islamic world.
Construction began only on November 5, 1996, and the difficulties and disagreements between the contractors and the Abu Dhabi Department of Public Works immediately began. Only in October 2001, Halcrow took control of the construction, and the matter "shifted." By May 2002, the foundation was completed, although the original plan foresaw completion of the mosque in 2002.
38 contractors took part in the works, more than 3,5 thousand workers worked at the construction site. The total cost of the facility has increased from the initially planned 1.5 billion dirhams to 2.1 billion.
On November 2, 2004 Sheikh Zayd Al-Nahyan died. The Great Mosque was not yet ready for ceremonies, and a memorial service was held at the Batin mosque in Abu Dhabi (pictured right, click on the photo to enlarge). The burial place was ready and the body of Sheikh Zayd was buried the same day in the Great Mosque of Sheikh Zayd.
The mosque opened at the end of the month of Ramadan in 2007.
What to watch
The mosque became a unique blend of ancient and modern Islamic styles of architecture. Calligraphy and works of art of different regions of the Islamic world look harmonious. The scale of the structure and the luxury of the decoration amaze. Let's talk about the most interesting places in the Great Sheikh Zayd Mosque that tourists can see here.
The area around the mosque
The complex is 290 meters wide and 420 meters long. This is not counting the gardens and parking. Throughout the territory there are information signs and signs, it's difficult to get lost.
If you arrive by excursion bus, you will be in the parking lot. The taxi can be brought to the parking lot or to the eastern entrance, where there is a large staircase, and behind it are two fountains in the form of semicircles (in the photo below, click to enlarge).
On the north side, between the parking lot and the mosque itself there are two interesting objects. The first is a cafeteria where you can sit, rest and drink tea or coffee. In this cafeteria there is air conditioning, which can be important in the very hot summer months (read our article " Weather in the UAE ").
The second is the mausoleum of Sheikh Zayd, where you can see his grave. Naturally, the body does not exhibit the show, in the Islamic countries it is not accepted. Recall that the mausoleum is the only place in the complex where it is forbidden to take a photo. Over the grave of Sheikh Zayd, the Koran is read 24 hours a day, special ministers do shifts at 1 o'clock. On a full reading, they take 1.5-2 days.
The yard area is 17 000 sq.m. (1.7 hectares). First of all, they look under their feet, because this is the largest marble mosaic in the world. See this mosaic, domes and minarets in the photo below, click on the photo to enlarge.
In this courtyard, up to 30,000 believers can pray. On weekdays there are not so many prayers, everyone has enough space in the prayer hall. In the courtyard pray only on Fridays during the prayer of juma-namaz, just at this time non-Muslims are not allowed into the mosque.
The big Sheikh Zayd Mosque is a real marble museum. Perhaps, it is nowhere else to see so many of its most valuable varieties. Sivets from Greece and Macedonia, Lasa, Aquabian, from Italy, Makran from India, East White and Green Min from China.
A total of 28 expensive varieties of marble were used. The total area covered by marble and stone slabs is 220,000 square meters (22 hectares).
At the Great Sheikh Zayd Mosque there are four minarets, one in each corner. The height is 107 meters. The minarets are decorated with marble slabs. Note that below the minarets are square in shape, then upwards the shape changes to octagonal, then goes higher into round shape.
In the western minarets is located the SZGMC (Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center), in fact, the administration of the mosque. It is in this organization that tour guides work.
In the north-eastern minaret there is a library with a rich collection of books and documents on Islamic history, calligraphy and culture.
The Grand Mosque of Sheikh Zayed has 82 domes of seven different sizes. The largest 85 meters in height (height from the inside of 70 meters), 32.2 meters in diameter.
The yard is surrounded by 1048 columns, laid out over 20 000 marble slabs with impregnations of semiprecious shells, amethysts, lapis lazuli, red agates and mother-of-pearl. Long colonnades look amazing, see the photo below, click on the photo to enlarge.
From the north, south and east the building of the mosque is surrounded by ponds (there are only 10 of them). A special lighting system has been created for these ponds. The illuminated walls, columns and domes of the mosque are reflected in the waters of the ponds, reminiscent of the night sky with clouds and moonlight.
The brightness of the lighting varies depending on the current phase of the moon. The backlight is created by 22 special towers, they can not be missed. If you want to see it, come here after sunset.
The prayer hall is open to non-Muslims only at a time when prayers are not held. That is, between the morning (Fajr) and midday (Zuhr) prayers.
The main prayer hall accommodates up to 7000 believers, two minor - up to 1500 believers. One of these secondary women's rooms. It is in the main hall that the main wonders of the Great Sheikh Zayd Mosque are hidden.
In the prayer hall there are 96 columns covered with mother-of-pearl. On the walls you can see 80 mosaics made of ceramic Iznik from Turkey. The inscriptions in the style of the sulus on these mosaics were created by the Turkish calligrapher Sheikh Hasan Zelabi. Pay attention to the large glass gate, they are 7 meters wide, 12.2 meters long and weigh 2.2 tons.
In the main prayer hall look up, you will see a large dome of the mosque from the inside. Note that the room is in the form of an octagonal star.
In the prayer hall you need to look under your feet. Floor carpet flooring is the largest carpet in the world (in the photo above, click to enlarge). Its area is 5627 sq.m., it consists of 2 268 000 000 knots, the weight exceeds 35 tons. He was woven in Iran for two years by the forces of 1200 masters.
Design of the carpet was developed by Iranian Ali Caliki, the production was overseen by the Iranian state company Iran Carpet Co. This carpet cost 30 million dirhams of the UAE.
A masterpiece of modern technology (pictured left, click to enlarge). The light on the wall of Kibla is supplied by the EFO system, that is, it is transmitted from remote sources by means of an optical fiber. The EFO system operates from 250 remote lamps. The developer of the optical system is the company Fiberstars EFO.
On the wall kufic letter written 99 names (properties) of Allah. These inscriptions were made by the famous calligrapher of the United Arab Emirates - Mohammed Mandi Al Tamimi.
The width of the wall of the Kibla is 50 meters, the height is 23 meters.
The prayer halls are lit by seven chandeliers produced by the German company Faustig. To understand how much this is expensive, you can look at the Internet prices for regular home chandeliers Faustig. And the chandeliers for the Great Sheikh Zayd Mosque are made of millions of Swarovski crystals.
The biggest chandelier is in the center of the main hall (in the photo on the right, click to enlarge), the diameter is 10 meters, the height is 15 meters, the weight is 12 tons. At the time of construction of the mosque, this chandelier was the largest in the world. Now the record is broken, in 2010 in Qatar in the building Ali Bin Khalifa Al Hitmi & Co installed LED chandelier weighing 18 tons.
These seven chandeliers cost 30 million dirhams of the UAE. The total weight of gilding on them is 40 kilograms of gold of 999 tests!
A successful visit to the Great Sheikh Zayd Mosque, and read our useful and interesting articles about the Arab Emirates ( links below ).
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