The impressive Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque at the entrance to Abu Dhabi City Island is a beautifully designed amazing and timeless place of worship. Located in a nature reserve, Desert Island Resort & Spa by Anantara, a popular Abu Dhabi beach hotel facilitates extraordinary holiday experiences.
In keeping with the design philosophy to ‘unite the cultural diversity of the Islamic world’ the construction of the mosque involved artisans and materials from around the world. The design itself was influenced by Mamluk, Ottoman and Fatimid architectural styles. More than 3,000 workers and 38 contracting companies were engaged in making Sheik Zayed’s dream a reality over a period of nine years from 1996 to 2007. As a conscious decision was made to use natural materials as much as possible because of their long lasting properties marble, gold, semi precious stones, crystal and ceramics went into its exterior and interior decoration. As the country’s grand Mosque, it is the primary gathering place for Friday and Eid prayers and is also the largest mosque in the UAE. It can accommodate over 40,000 worshippers. The main prayer hall is able to accommodate 7,000 worshippers and two smaller prayer halls can accommodate 1,500 worshippers each. The mosque alone occupies a land area of 12 ha.
Minarets rising up to 107 meters, 82 domes, over 1,000 columns, a marble mosaic courtyard measuring 17,000 sq meters are among its many amazing external design features. Internal decorations include the world’s largest hand knotted carpet measuring 5,627 sq meters, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers with millions of Swarovski crystals, the subtle use of coloured marble to create a truly beautiful interior, marble and mother of pearl cladding for the 96 columns of the main prayer hall, use of three styles of calligraphy in the decoration, incorporating fiber opting lighting into the overall interior design and above all creating an ambience of peace and harmony.
Uditha Dharmawardhane is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Roland Lefevre. He specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe.