Grand Mosque Visit

30 Oct

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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the “must visit” destination in Abu Dhabi as unlike other mosques it is open to the general public (except on Friday mornings). We’d put off going until the weather had cooled down a bit and had reckoned we’d given ourselves plenty of time to make the first English tour. Missing the exit off the highway didn’t help (yes, it could be better signposted) but we’d also underestimated the time it would take to get me fixed up with an abaya to wear inside. I thought I was already suitably dressed but my shirt sleeves weren’t long enough.

Ah well, it was an experience. I’ve always thought this mode of dress was actually very flattering but it goes to show that even with what is apparently a uniform garment you get what you pay for. The one I was wearing was free. Let’s just say that I am more aware of the intricacies involved in what makes it pleasing to the eye and probably cooler, too. Anyway, we missed the tour and instead got a very modern, touch-screen audio-guide. Very good it was, too, and free as well.

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Built of the finest of everything – pure-white Grecian marble, Venetian Murano glass, Austrian Swarovski crystals, semi-precious stones and gold, of course – the mosque dazzles in every sense of the word. Modern (completed in 2007) yet traditional, it is said to be a fusion of the styles of the Muslim world. It also houses the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet, made by some 1,200 artisan Iranian women, some flown in to Abu Dhabi especially for the task of completing it. I don’t think this is why you have to take your shoes off when entering the main prayer hall but it must help.

Sheikh Zayed brought together designers, features, materials and suppliers from nearly every corner of the globe to build his mosque wanting it to be a unifying landmark. It is fitting that he is entombed in its grounds.

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Marble columns inlaid with blue lapis lazuli, red agate, the violet of amethyst, the iridescent blues, greens and purples of abalone shell and creamy white mother of pearl.

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Built of marble and onyx even the ablutions are worth a visit so don’t miss stopping off at the toilets on the way out!

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4 Responses to “Grand Mosque Visit”

  1. chitchatandpics October 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    The opulence is overwhelming. Fabulous pictures.

    • lamputts October 30, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

      Thanks, glad you enjoyed them. I don’t think they do the mosque justice to be honest.

  2. Christine November 1, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    Very interesting! And you look very pious in black, Cathy!

    • lamputts November 4, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

      I felt a complete numpty, Christine! Abayas are not comfortable garments, either x

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