Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (Arabic :جامع الشيخ زايد الكبير) is located in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was initiated by the late President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who is fondly thought of as the father of the UAE. His final resting place is located on the grounds beside the mosque.
As the country’s grand mosque, it is the key place of worship for Friday gathering and Eid prayers. It is the largest mosque in the UAE and numbers during Eid can be more than forty thousand people.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center (SZGMC) offices are located in the east minarets. SZGMC manages the day to day operations, as a place of worship and Friday gathering and also a center of learning.
The library, located in the north/east minaret, serves the community with classic books and publications addressing a range of Islamic subjects: sciences, civilization, calligraphy, the arts, coins and includes some rare publications dating back more than 200 years! In reflection of the diversity of the Islamic world and the United Arab Emirates, the collection comprises of material in a broad range of languages including Arabic, English, French, Italian, Spanish, German and Korean. The library is open everyday except Fridays.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque's design and construction 'unites the world', using artisans and materials from many countries including Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, Turkey, Malaysia, Iran, China, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Greece and of course the United Arab Emirates. More than 3,000 workers and 38 renowned contracting companies took part in the construction of the Mosque! Natural materials were chosen for much of its design and construction due to their long-lasting qualities, including marble, stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics.
The Mosque is large enough to accommodate over 40,000 worshippers. The main prayer hall can accommodate over 7,000 worshippers. There are two smaller prayer halls, with a 1,500-capacity each, one of which is the female prayer hall.
There are four minarets on the four corners of the courtyard which rise about 107 m (351 ft) in height. The courtyard with its floral design, measures about 17,000 m2 (180,000 sq ft),and is considered to be the largest example of marble mosaic in the world.
SIVEC from Greece & Macedonia, used on the external cladding (a total of 115,119 square metres of cladding has been used on the Mosque, including the four minarets) • Lasa from Italy, used in the internal elevations • Makrana from India, used in the annexes and offices • Aquabiana and Biano from Italy • East White and Ming Green from China.
Some key architectural features
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has many special and unique elements: The carpet in the main prayer hall is considered to be the world's largest carpet made by Iran's Carpet Company and designed by Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi. This carpet measures 5,627 m2 (60,570 sq ft), and was made by around 1,200-1,300 female carpet knotters. The weight of this carpet is 35 ton and is predominantly made from wool (originating from New Zealand and Iran). There are 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet and it took approximately two years to complete.
The pools along the arcades reflect the Mosque’s spectacular columns, which becomes even more glorious at night. The unique lightning system was designed by lightning architects Jonathon Speirs and Major to reflect the phases of the moon. Beautiful bluish gray clouds are projected in lights onto the external walls and get brighter and darker according to the phase of the moon.
The 96 columns in the main prayer hall are clad with marble and inlaid with mother of pearl, one of the few places where you will see this craftsmanship.
The 99 names (qualities or attributes) of Allah (God) are featured on the Qibla wall in traditional Kufi calligraphy, designed by the prominent UAE calligrapher - Mohammed Mandi Al Tamimi. The Qibla wall also features subtle fibre-optic lighting, which is integrated as part of the organic design.
In total, three calligraphy styles - Naskhi, Thuloth and Kufi – are used throughout the mosque and were drafted by Mohammed Mandi Al Tamimi (UAE), Farouk Haddad (Syria) and Mohammed Allam (Jordan).