Who’d have thought that a place of worship could provide interior inspiration? Before I visited the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, I wouldn’t have believed it. I guess at a push you could argue that the ornate features of churches and cathedrals offer a bit of interiors based delight but for me, it’s a little limited. Now the Grand Mosque is a whole other story. Quite simply, it’s breathtakingly stunning. And the details within it led to me taking over 100 photographs so struck was I by its floral motifs, stark white marble, plush indulgent carpets and fabulously showy chandeliers. So friends, let me take you on a little tour and introduce you to the beautiful features of this impressive structure.
One thing that surprised me when visiting the mosque was just how new it is. The creation of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late President of Abu Dhabi, the mosque was only completed in 2007 after almost ten years of construction. It’s the largest in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and is big enough to house over 40,000 worshippers! I highly recommend taking a free guided tour if you visit – there are several each day at set times and are extremely informative.
The floral detailing on the columns is truly remarkable – it is made up of precious stones set into the marble. Here is a close up which contains lapis lazuli and mother of pearl.
A similar amount of attention to detail is reserved for the flooring throughout the mosque, including in the massive courtyard which makes for an extremely striking and indulgent effect.
During our tour, someone asked whether the date palm detailing on the columns was made of real gold. It’s not, though our guide explained that there is indeed real gold on the minarets and domes (kept safely out of reach of anyone who may wish to help themselves!). Our guide also explained the significance of including the gold date palms within the design of the mosque. This was because the date palm was one of the specific plants mentioned in the Qur’an, hence its specific inclusion throughout the design.
The lighting inside the prayer halls is absolutely breathtaking – giant chandeliers with Swarovski crystals. They make a fantastically ornate statement and once inside, it’s hard to take your eyes off them! Indeed, everywhere you look, there are intricate details which catch the eye. It’s a real visual assault – in the best possible way!
The other wonderful feature in the Grand Mosque is the Iranian carpet in the main prayer hall. It’s the world’s largest carpet – yes, really – and, as you’d expect, is also fantastically ornate. What I initially thought were joins within the carpet, are actually raised markers, to help arrange the worshippers in neat lines facing towards the Imam, and to Mecca.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this whistlestop tour of the Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque. It is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the United Arab Emirates (and Abu Dhabi is only 1.5hours drive from Dubai if you end up spending time there as part of a stopover).
Seeing the white marble and the reflections it created reminded me of the importance of finding materials within the home that bounce the light around. That’s why we ended up with white porcelain floors throughout our open plan living, dining and kitchen area – it’s North facing so got a bit gloomy on not-so-sunny days. Note for anyone thinking of doing the same, however: whilst the tiles are genuinely fabulous (they make a bold, high end statement, and they certainly work in getting more light into the space), they are high maintenance in terms of cleaning (specifically hoovering – we did not sufficiently factor in the impact of owning two black cats when we designed the scheme! Whoops!).
Anyway, first world problems and all that! What’s your favourite take away from this dramatic and imposing building? The carpet? The blingy lighting? Or those gorgeous floral inlays? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy travels, and shopping