Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Tuesday, 20th July 2010 by

This gleaming expanse of white marble is the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

It is particularly gleaming, and spectacularly white, because the $2billion no-expense-spared project entailed shipping in the purest white stone known to man, all the way from Macedonia.

Twenty seven other varieties of marble were used in the building, along with many semi-precious stones, such as can be seen in the floral patterns of the courtyard thanks to Google's excellent high-resolution images.

In addition to the 9,000 capacity of the mosque, the courtyard can hold up to 32,000 worshippers. The mosque is also the burial location of the Sheikh for whom it is named - the founder and first leader of the United Arab Emirates.

While some sources say he is buried in the courtyard, others say his tomb is this smaller building in a garden with reflecting pools to the north of the mosque.

The mosque is flanked by four 115m minarets and eighty domes of various sizes.

The lavish expenditure extends to many aspects of the building. While not the largest mosque in the world1 it does have a couple of record-breaking features, both of which cost over $8million.

1) The world's largest carpet - weighing more than 42,000 kg and created with over 2 billion knots.

2) The world's largest chandelier - finished in gold, holding 40 million pieces of crystal, and measuring 10 by 15 m.

Naturally, such a building needs huge parking lots, with one on either side of the building. There's also a helicopter landing pad for those for whom road travel is just too inconvenient.

The interior is spectacular, with 1,000 columns, gold glass, and a wall featuring the 99 names (qualities) of Allah (which has obligatory fibre-optic lighting). Somewhat ironically, these features are intended to be 'subtle' so as not to distract worshippers.

More information can be found at Wikipedia, and this site has some good information about the construction.

  1. It's somewhere between the 3rd and 8th largest depending, as ever, on the precise definition. ↩︎