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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

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I immediately spotted this masterpiece when I was in a taxi, going to my hotel from the airport in Abu Dhabi.

The snow white domes and minarets of uncommon beauty at the distance, seemingly floating in the light blue sky.

This architectural wonder was impossible not to notice. Even when one was jetlagged and sleepy, like myself.

“What is this?” I asked the driver.

“It’s the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque,” was the answer.

I wanted to visit this mosque as soon as possible. Hands down, this was one of the most impressive buildings I had ever seen.

The dress code

Without thinking twice, the very next day, I set out to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

However, I was a little worried that I might not be able to get in. I didn’t bring a headscarf from home. I didn’t know if there would be one available for purchase near the mosque. Also, I wasn’t sure my clothes were appropriate. I was wearing some pants and a long sleeved shirt. They looked reasonable to me, but still, I was no expert in the dress code.

Turns out, there was no need to worry. None whatsoever.

I was in Abu Dhabi afterall!

Just like with all other attractions in Abu Dhabi, everything was organized with a lot of common sense and with a goal of making the life of visitors easier (not harder). That’s what I love about Abu Dhabi.

Right at the entrance I discovered a mall where one could buy anything they needed to enter the mosque. The sales associates were very helpful in looking my outfit over and recommending what I needed. Importantly, they were not trying to sell me more than I required. They said that overall, my outfit was fine. All I needed was a headscarf. It cost me only $7. Five minutes later, I was ready to visit the mosque.

Getting there

In order to get to the mosque from the taxi drop-off area, one has to walk for about 10-15 minutes underground. This is a very good idea especially during the summer when the weather is incredibly hot.

The walkway reminds of an airport. For people who need assistance, plenty of carts are available.

As you walk, you can see large images of famous people who visited the mosque in the past. No doubt, you will recognize a lot of people in these pictures.

Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

As you approach the main entrance of the mosque, you will see a striking snow white architectural construction with reflecting pools stretching to left and right. The mosque projects not only incredible beauty and wealth, but, most importantly, peace and tranquility.

As you enter the gates, you will find yourself in the courtyard surrounded by gorgeous domes rising from all sides of the structure. These domes are covered by white Greek and Italian marble and topped by a golden spire.

Four magnificent 107-meter-high minarets rise straight into the sky. The minarets house the mosque offices and library, which contains around 7,000 books in various subjects.

The floor of the courtyard is covered by marble of incredible beauty featuring an enormous floral design. Turns out, this is the largest marble mosaic floor in the world! The marble came from various countries, such as Macedonia, India, China and Italy.

You will also see a large number of open Moorish arches with white columns topped with a golf leaf palm tree.

Inside the mosque, you will find magnificent chandeliers in the shape of an upturned palm tree which are 15.5 m high and weigh 12 tons. They are covered with gold plates and adorned with green, red and yellow Swarovski crystals. In order to decorate the chandeliers, nearly 40 million of crystal balls were used.

The message of unity

A great desire of late Sheikh Zayed was to unite people, and this architectural masterpiece perfectly reflects his wish. The materials for the mosque construction came from many different countries, the design melds local and international styles, 3000 artisans and workers worked on its construction, and over 3 million people visited the mosque since its opening.

Most of the visitors (80%+) have been international tourists, which shows tremendous value of the mosque to attract people from all over the world. According to the Gulf News, some of the top countries from where visitors came from include India, Russia, China, the U.S., Germany, and others.

Quite a few royals and celebrities have visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, notably Pope Francis, the late Queen Elizabeth, King Charles and Queen Camilla, India’s Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Paris Hilton, Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, Rihanna, and others.

The final word

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the most impressive architectural sites I have ever seen. Its beauty is stunning and its splendor unmatched.

If you are ever in Abu Dhabi, this is one of the attractions which you should definitely plan on visiting. There are many other fantastic sites as well, so you are guaranteed to have a great time.

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