02 January 2009

Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Firstly, wish you all a very very Happy New 2009!!!

Here's a few photos of the recently opened Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi. This grand mosque is surely the biggest in the country though I am a bit sceptic of the claim that it's the third largest mosque in the world (after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina). Based on sheer capacity to holder followers this house seems to far smaller than the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta; Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca; and Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.

There are 57 domes covering the outside yard and the main building as well and these are clad in white marble.

All the columns that surround the great courtyard of the mosque is decorated using the
Pietre dure technique.
However, I doubt that like great buildings of the past like the Taj Mahal this was done by hand. Because of the sheer no. of columns and the pace at which this mosque was built I think they must have used a combination of water jet cutting and milling machines to achive this great task.
Following is a photo of the great courtyard that can hold over 30,000 people.
As you enter the mosque you enter a strange entry hall, which is covered in marble bas relief in floral patterns that are quiet uncharacteristic of a mosque structure. Unlike other dominant Islamic buildings and mosques here the strict use of a geometric framework for all the patterns is noticeably missing. In my opinion it is the restrictions imposed by the strict geometric ordering that has always made decoration in Islamic religious buildings soo interesting!
Sadly this mosque is yet another victim of this country’s recent obsession with records. As quiet predictable it houses :

  • the largest chandelier in the world. There are seven imported chandeliers from Germany and are copper and gold-plated. The largest of which is 10 meters in diameter and 15 meters in height (this is in the central and main hall of the mosque which was closed at the time of my visit).
  • the "World's Largest Carpet" made by Iran's Carpet Company and designed by Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi. This carpet measures 5,627 square meters and is also inside the main hall.
    You can see the same lack of order in the carpet design as on the decoration in the entrance hall walls! But what the mosque lacks in nitty-gritty it makes up in scale.

It is one of the few mosques in the country that is open to tourists of all religious orientation and one of the few instance were state money has been lavishly used on a ‘public’ building and is surely worth a visit if you happen to be around Abu Dhabi!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

great pictures. hope i can visit here someday :)

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