Page 66 - Simply Abu Dhabi Magazine II

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66
S IMPLY ABU DHABI
OUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY
a t a mag i c a l mo s que
Arriving at the Mosque in glorious sunshine, our senses
were overwhelmed by the vision of such a majestic
construction – it is almost dream-like and certainly
enchanting. Artificial lakes surround the Mosque and
resplendent coloured floral marble and mosaics pave
the 17,000 square metre courtyard. Perceived as a
construction to ‘unite the world’ we were pleased to
see that visitors from all over the world had come to
pay homage to this incredible landmark. The inaugural
cornerstone laid in the late 1990s and the original
architectural design was Moroccan, but has since evolved
to include other global features, such as exterior walls
influenced by a traditional Turkish design.
Due to their durability, natural materials were selected for
the construction of the Mosque and the magnificent stone
work incorporates all sorts of intricately beautiful marble,
granite and semi-precious gems and is a sight to behold.
Architecture inspired by both Mughal nad Moorish
Mosques fuses to create a truly unique Arab structure.
Part of the sight-seeing experience has to be taking a few
moments to stand back and appreciate the splendour
before you. This is exactly what we did, the sheer size
and majesty of the Mosque taking our breath away. After
appreciating its beauty we were eager to get inside and
take some time to contemplate and pray.
A divine inspiration
As is the custom, we removed our shoes and entered
the Mosque, immediately struck by the opulence of the
lavish carpet, inlaid marble and magnificent chandeliers
that adorn the interior of the building. The Mosque’s
interior walls have decorative 24 carat gold-glass mosaic
features. Italian white marble and the prayer walls are
embellished with inlaid floral designs and the main prayer
hall also features the world’s largest hand-woven Persian
carpet which we were told is 7,119 square metres – pretty
impressive!
But more importantly, we were humbled by the sense of
divinity within the walls. Women must be fully covered to
respect the conventions and there are two separate prayer
rooms next to the main prayer hall for their exclusive use.
Large enough to accommodate 40,000 worshippers, we
were reminded how lucky we are to be experiencing such
grandeur. Engaging in silent prayer is an important ritual
for us and what a place to do so. Truly humbling, the
harmonic and tranquil environment provided the perfect
setting to focus on our private thoughts. Praying within
the Mosque was a real honour for us and an occasion we
will hold in our hearts forever. Non- Muslims can visit
outside of prayer times Saturday to Thursday and are sure
to find it a fascinating experience.
Free tours throughout the day
The tours of the Mosque that start at 10am are free,
so make sure you take the time to enjoy a session
discovering more about this historically important place
of worship and its influence in Abu Dhabi. The tours
are informative and thought-provoking for Muslims and
non-Muslims alike. We were fascinated to hear all about
the construction of the Mosque – which is still a work
in progress – and how the design has been influenced by
ideas and materials from around the world. Gold, crystals
and ceramics feature heavily in the design and make for
an impressive atmosphere. We were told that materials
from countries including Italy, Germany, Morocco, India,
Turkey, Iran, China, Greece and the UAE combine to
create a global masterpiece.
Characteristically Moorish archways and classically
Arab minarets make up the impressive dome layout and
we discovered how the floor plan was inspired by the
Badshahi Mosque. Our friendly and educated tour guide
had our full attention throughout the tour and our fellow
visitors were equally engaged, eyes darting around feeding
on the magnificence of the architecture and design. Our
guide was more than willing to answer questions as he
filled the group in on the history of the Mosque and the
importance of Islam.