The Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque The majestic Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque is probably the most imposing religious and national landmark in Abu Dhabi to date. It is also arguably one of the most important architectural treasures of contemporary UAE society - and one of the most beautiful in the world - initiated no less by the late president HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who is fondly thought of as the father of UAE. The Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque, popularly called Grand Mosque by local residents, is seen as a globally unifying landmark from its conception to completion, bringing together designers, features, materials and suppliers from nearly every corner of the globe: Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, Turkey, Iran, China, Greece and the UAE. The Mosques initial architectural design was Moroccan, but it evolved to include many global features, including exterior walls that are of traditional Turkish design. Natural materials were chosen for its design and construction, which include marble, stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics. The Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque features 80 domes all decorated with white marble. The main domes outer shell measures 32.7 metres in diameter and stands 70 metres high from the inside and 85 metres from the outside - the largest of its kind, according to the Turkey Research Centre for Islamic History and Culture. The Mosque has 1,096 columns in its exterior and 96 columns in the main prayer hall which are embedded with more than 20,000 handmade marble panels encrusted with semi-precious stones, including lapis lazuli, red agate, amethyst, abalone shell and mother of pearl. Furthermore, beautiful minarets standing 107 metres are built on the four corners of the Mosque. Artifical lakes, totaling 7,874 square metres and laden with dark tiles, surround the Mosque, whilst coloured floral marble and mosaics pave the 17,000 square metre courtyard. The pools reflect the Mosques spectacular image, which becomes even more resplendent at night. An equally impressive interior design complements the Mosques awesome exterior. Italian white marble and inlaid floral designs adorn the prayer halls and the Mosques interior walls have decorative 24 carat gold-glass mosaic features. The main prayer hall also features the worlds largest hand-woven Persian carpet (7,119 square metres). Furthermore the Mosque features seven 24-carat gold-plated chandeliers which were imported from Germany, all designed with thousands of Swarovski crystals. The largest of these chandeliers, which hangs from the main dome of the Mosque, is considered the biggest in the world; it measures 10 metres in diameter, 15 metres in height, and eight-to-nine tonnes in weight. The Qibla wall, on the other hand, is 23 metres high and 50 metres wide, and is subtly decorated so as not to distract worshippers from prayer. The 99 names (qualities) of Allah are featured on the Qibla wall using traditional Kufi calligraphy and are subtly back-illuminated using fibre-optic lighting. Twenty-four carat gold, gold leaf and gold glass mosaic were also used in the mehrab (the niche found in the middle of the Qibla wall) and the crescents topping the domes. The Mosque has 80 Iznikpanels - highly decorated ceramic tiles popular in the 16th century - which feature distinctly in Istanbuls imperial and religious buildings. Traditionally hand-crafted, each tile was designed by Turkish calligrapher Othman Agha. Three calligraphy styles - Naskhi, Thuloth and Kufi are used throughout the mosque and were drafted by Mohammed Mendi (UAE), Farouk Haddad (Syria) and Mohammed Allam (Jordan). The Mosque can accommodate up to 40,960 worshippers from its prayer halls and courtyard.