Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

I done did a touristy thing!

Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the largest mosque in the UAE and the eighth largest mosque in the world. It is named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918-2004), the founder and the first President of the United Arab Emirates, who is also buried there.

The first thing that I was taken by was the amazingly brilliant "whiteness" of the structure, it practically glowed against the developing haze of the morning. That and the amazing symmetry of the design, and the obvious care to detail and maintenance that was put into every inch of the place. Apparently The main dome is the largest in the world and is 87 metres high with a diameter of 32.8 metres. There are a total of 82 domes in the mosque, and are of traditional Moroccan design..

Next we met our guide that took us on a short tour and explained some of the amazing facts about the construction and purpose of the building..

She told us so much that I can't remember, about numbers of columns and materials used, but by this time I was distracted by the (insides) of the incredible domes that sat above us, each one of them uniquely designed and containing a part of the Qur'an (written around the bottom)..

The Mosque can accommodate up to 40,000 worshippers, with both inside and outside areas. This, dare I say courtyard style area during Ramadan, especially on the main day of worship (Friday), may hold up to 28,000 people..

It's no secret that countries in the Gulf are notoriously hot, and the Muslim prayer (the Salaat) involves the worshipper touching his nose and forhead to the ground. Taking into account these facts, a special kind of marble that absorbs the heat was chosen to construct the white tiles in this area, therefore making it bearable for the worshipper to perform the prayer ritual without burning their face. That said, the coloured parts of the area were not made from the same heat absorbing material, and the difference in temperature (to touch) between the two was quite extreme..

Next we journeyed inside, and again were amazed at the the beautifully constructed room that separated the main Prayer rooms..

We then visited the main prayer room, which contained the 'World's Largest Carpet'. Needless to say, the entire room was breathtaking..

The centerpieces of the main room however were the incredible Chandeliers, one of which again, is also the worlds largest..

Our final stop was to one of the two Women's Prayer rooms, off to the side of the main hall. A question was asked as to why there were rooms specifically for women only, and I was a little surprised to hear the reason being so as simple as that if there was no opportunity for segregation, that worshippers may become distracted by the 'beautiful' people next to them (our guides actual words)..

(Yet another) amazing thing about this room was the way that the design of the roof was mirrored in the design of the carpet..

This room also contained a shelf for the Qur'an, which was only to be touched at special times of worship..

There were several Islamic Prayer Clocks (Azan) around the building, which showed the times of prayer throughout the day. The clocks follow the patterns of the sunrise and sunset, and so change each day..

By this time we were just about done, but I managed to shoot a few more things on the way out.

Very possibly my favorite pic of the morning..

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