One of the largest mosques in the world, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is a testament to the religious devotion of the Muslims in the United Arab Emirates. As I approach the enormous white structure that welcomes both Muslims for prayer and visitors for tours, I was amazed by the white minarets piercing the sky with golden points and the endless rows of smooth white domes, I felt I had reached a sort of Islamic mecca.
In respecting the traditions of Islam, all visitors to the mosque must adhere to a modest style of dress, which for women includes a scarf to cover the head. As I wrap my pink scarf over my head, covering my hair and sweeping the end across my neck, I feel instantly transformed. I step through the first of many Moorish archways, and I am dwarfed by the the enormity of the structure in which I stand, which covers 30 acres of land.
The tour guide takes us through rooms and hallways adorned with intricate floral designs made of semi-precious stones, through custom metal-gated doorways, and past endless displays of both wealth and devotion to Allah. The Grand Mosque can hold at once 40,000 worshippers, which is necessary as Muslims from across the UAE join in prayer five times daily, many traveling here for one of those prayers.
We go on to see some of the most magnificent details and decorations, everything hand carved and aimed to break at least one world record. With the largest rug in the world covering the Main Prayer Hall, the world’s largest marble mosaic in the courtyard, and one of the world’s largest chandeliers in a mosque, there are plenty of attractions to draw international visitors. I was impressed by how much effort and labor, finances and resources, and thought and planning went into the building of this impressive place of worship.
When asked whether this mosque was seen by the Emiratis as an excessive display of wealth, he explained that the government ensures protection and care for all of the country’s people primarily. After ensuring that equitable provisions have been made, their building of this mosque is welcomed, as a bright and shining display of the country’s collective devotion to Allah. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a source of pride for Emiratis, and a must-see spot on your trip to Abu Dhabi!