I just got back from a wonderful trip to Abu Dhabi with my daughter Zein Salti. Waking up in the bright sun the first thing we did is visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque somewhere I’ve wanted to see since we featured it in the Ramadan edition of Trendesign Magazine two years ago.
The Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque is named after the late president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who is also buried within the grounds. His wish was to create a place that would unite the entire Islamic world in the historical and modern values of architecture and art. Completed in 2007, it is the UAE’s largest mosque, with 82 domes and a capacity of 41,000. It also holds the world’s biggest marble mosaic floor, using marble from Macedonia, Italy, China and India, not to mention a vast chandelier made in Germany that incorporates millions of Swarovski crystals.
Approaching the mosque, I was struck by the phenomenal exterior architecture; I could not believe the sophisticated workmanship and intricate designs that are interwoven everywhere! The architecture is a mixture of Persian, Mughal and Moorish styles all intermixed into something new and beautiful. From the pillars, to the windows, the doors, the ceilings, the carpet, the entrance, no detail was overlooked.
When we arrived to Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, we had to go and pick up an abayah that was available for all the tourists to put over their clothes for modesty. Putting it over my clothes, I felt a deep appreciation and thoughtfulness towards Muslim women who wear the abayah all year long and are able to withstand the heat. I was sweating buckets! Nevertheless, it was and still is a memorial experience and a fascinating look into the lives of Muslim women.
One of my favourite things inside was the fascinating, gigantic carpet that is located in the main prayer hall. At 5,625 square-metres, it is the largest one-piece carpet in the world and was completely hand-knotted by around 1,300 Iranian craftsmen out of 35 tonnes of wool and 12 tons of cotton. Although it contains 25 natural colours, green is predominant as it was the favourite colour of the late Sheikh Zayed.
Thousands of people from all over the world come to visit the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque every year, and I felt within it this energetic aura that was moving with the elements of the Earth. It was as if we were all moving all as one, in cohesion and harmony. I am very grateful that I was able to go and visit this sacred place, and I would highly recommend a trip to the mosque, as you will only fully appreciate it once you see it in person.
Photo credits: Zein Salti @zsalti