The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (SZGM) is a massive mosque (building measuring over 30 acres and can accomodate 40000+ worshippers) and an outstanding human engineering marvel built over 11 years between 1996 to 2007 designed by Syrian architect Yousef Abdelky with more than 3000 workers from many countries
|Branch/tradition||: Sunni Islam (Malikite)|
|Completed||: 20 December 2007|
|Construction cost||: 2 billion dirhams (US$545 million)|
|Capacity||: over 41000|
|Length||: 420 m|
|Width||: 290 m|
|Dome(s)||: 82 domes of seven different sizes|
|Dome height (outer)||: 85 m|
|Dome diameter (outer)||: 32.2 m|
|Minaret height||: 107 m|
SHEIKH ZAYED GRAND MOSQUE
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque sits majestically at the entrance to Abu Dhabi City Island, distinctly visible from the three main bridges connecting the island to the main land, the Maqta, Mussafah and the Sheikh Zayed Bridge.
The strategic geographical location of the Mosque is a symbolic expression of the emotional connection the Mosque has in the hearts of all UAE citizens particularly because the burial place of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, first President of the UAE, is located beside the mosque
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is well recognized by its pure color, as it is clad with SIVEC marble from Macedonia. Every artistic design element was carefully considered and fits into the overall vision of the Mosque
Some key contributions to Islamic art found in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque:
- Combining Mamluk, Ottoman and Fatimid styles, the design of the minarets fuse the wide and diverse Islamic world into one summation of art and beauty.
- Developing the art of ornamentation thorough using multi-colored marble to create unprecedented artistic forums with the help of natural colors in addition to the development of sophisticated techniques associated with the decoration of crowned columns.
- The crowns are not located on the top of the columns but at the bottom. This extraordinary technique is innovative to Islamic architecture.
- Giving priority to the art of using colours to create original artistic forms. The colours of the walls, columns and the carpet are harmonized together transforming the entire Mosque into an artistic masterpiece and a symphony of colors and shades.
- Using modern techniques of artistic glass work; mosaic, carved and sand blasted glass displaying traditional Islamic designs of symmetry and repetition
- The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has 4 minarets, each of which is around 106 meters high
- The minaret has been the most significant component of Islamic architecture across the ages
- Each minaret is made-up of three different geometric shapes
- The first is a square that forms the minaret’s base built according to the Arabic Moroccan architectural styles, as well as the Andalusian and the Mameluke styles
- The second has an octagonal shape, which is a design that oes back to the Mameluke era
- The third holds a cylindrical shape, which emerged during the Ottoman era. The crowning lantern covered with gold-glass mosaic goes back to the Fatimid era
- The word “Minaret” derives from the Arabic word “Manarah”, meaning lighthouse, so it is fitting that the library, a source of knowledge and education, is uniquely located at the minaret. It is the only library to be found in a minaret
THE COURTYARD (SAHAN)
- The courtyard (Sahan) is usually found in larger ‘Grand’ mosque structures
- It is an open area, usually has a shape of square or rectangular. The courtyard is used by worshipers during significant Islamic prayers and large gatherings such as the holy month Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr (Feast of Breakfast) and Eid Al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice)
- The courtyard can accommodate up to 31000 worshipers and the area is approximately 17400 square meters
- Many thousands of finest marble pieces make up the design including beautiful floral elements and mosaic. The designs were illustrated by British artist “Kevin Dean”
- The edges adorned using different types of flowers that grow in the Middle East such as Tulip, Lily and Iris
- The arcades of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque are flanking by thousands of columns, which are made of white marble panels, inlaid with precious and semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, red agate, amethyst, abalone shell and nacre
- Their overall design has been inspired from a valued tree throughout Arabia, the date palm
- From the golden capitals (anodized aluminum colored with golden color) which are in the shape of a palm treetop
- The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has 1096 columns around the arcade. Each piece was hand-carved and inlaid by craftsmen here on site and they used a special inlay technique called “Pietra Dura” which began firstly in Italy 16th century and reached Mughals in the early 17th century, and perhaps the most exquisite example is the columns of “Taj Mahal” in India
- 96 columns stand in groups of four contribute to the structural support for the three main domes
- The columns in the main prayer hall are clad with white pure marble inlaid with mother-of-pearl vines
- This work was completed mainly by hand in Dongguan (Pronounced: Tung-kwan) ,China
THE NICHE (MIHRAB)
- The Niche is an essential architectural element of a mosque and symmetrically located in the middle of the Qibla Wall
- Its design is inspired by one of the references to ‘Heaven’ or ‘Paradise’ in the Holy Quran (Surah Mohammed-15) that describes the existence of many abundant rivers in heaven including a river of honey and milk
- The yellow golden leaf-glass mosaic of the Niche seems to flow downwards from the ‘beehive’ feature at the top, as if it were a river of golden honey
- The reason why the Niche is in a half circle shape is related to the pre-electronic times when it helped to project the imam’s voice so that the worshippers could hear him
- The Niche is traditionally known as the place where the imam will stand to lead the worshippers
THE PULPIT (MENBAR)
- The Menbar is located on the right of the Menbar of SZGM and includes 11 steps in allow the imam to sit in a clear location to address the large number of worshippers that Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque receives
- It features floral and shell designs which are made of carved cedar wood inlaid with mother of pearl, glass mosaic and white gold.
- It has a small dome shaped ‘roof’ and crescent finial at the top of the stairs.
- The main prayer hall houses the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet
- The predominantly wool carpet was hand-crafted/made by approximately 1200-1300 carpet knotters/artisans
- Its creation was a two year project
- The design took approximately 8 months
- The knotting 12 months and
- The remaining time to transport, trim & weave the pieces together.
- The final single piece carpet is 5,700 square meters, about 70% being wool and the rest of 30% is cotton
- The weight of this carpet is 35 ton and is predominantly made from wool (originating from New Zealand and Iran)
- There are 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet
- There are seven crystal chandeliers made by Faustig (Munich, Germany) situated inside the halls and foyers
- The Chandeliers incorporate millions of Swarovski crystals
- The largest (located in the main prayer hall and considered one of the world’s largest in a mosque and is weighing approximately 12 tons
- Two smaller versions of the same design (located also in the main prayer hall) are weighing 8 tons each
- Four blue coloured chandeliers of similar design and size are located in the foyer entrances surrounding the SZGM
- The largest chandelier –
- Is the second largest known chandelier inside a mosque
- The third largest in the world
- has a 10 m diameter and a 15 m height
- Weighs about 2 tons and located in the main foyer entrance
- All chandeliers are made from gilded stainless steel and gilded brass (approx. 40kg of 24 carat galvanized gold was used)
- Glass panels studded with Swarovski crystals were installed in all of them
This Mosque is named after the late president of the UAE – His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
His final resting place is located on the grounds adjacent to the complex.
The mosque has 4 minarets of 107m each in height and 82 domes of 7 different sizes (largest outer diameter of 32 m and hight 85m. So huge !
The main axis of the building is rotated about 11° south of true west, aligning it in the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Difference, uniqueness, specialities and superlatives aspects
- World¨s largest carpet in the main prayer hall (Huge weighs 35 tonnes man made by 1300 carpet knotters over 2 years).
- Seven imported chandeliers (including the second largest inside a mosque) incorporating million of Svarovski crystals
- Pools along arcades reflect the mosque¨s spectacular columns which look spectacular at night
- The unique lighting system reflects the phases of the moon – bluish gray clouds projected onto walls to get brightness or darkness according to the phase of the moon
- The 96 columns in the main prayer hall are clad with marble and inlaid with mother of pearl (a rare craftmanship)
- The 99 names (qualities or attributes) of God (Allah) are featured on the Qibla wall in traditional Kufic calligraphy featuring subtle optical light
- In total, three calligraphy styles — Naskhi, Thuluth and Kufic — are used throughout the mosque
Design and construction
- The design of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque has been inspired by Persian, Mughal, and the Alexandrian Mosque of Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque in Egypt, also the Indo-Islamic mosque architecture, particularly the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan being direct influences
- The dome layout and floorplan of the mosque was inspired by the Badshahi Mosque. Its archways are quintessentially Moorish, and its minarets classically Arab
- Under lead contractor Impregilo (Italy), more than 3,000 workers and 38 sub-contracting companies took part in its construction
- The mosque was completed under a second contract by a Joint Venture between ACC and Six Construct (part of BESIX ) between 2004 and 2007
- Natural materials were chosen for much of its design and construction due to their long-lasting qualities, including marble stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics
- Artisans and materials came from many countries including India, Italy, Germany, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, Malaysia, Iran, China, United Kingdom, New Zealand, North Macedonia and the UAE
- The unique lightning system was designed to reflect the phases of the moon
- Soft undulating clouds of a bluish gray colour are projected onto the white marble external surfaces of the mosque including the façade and domes
- Each day appears a little different from the next as the lighting cycle commences with darker clouds when the month is in its early stages and the moon is a small crescent
- As the moon progresses through its cycle and becomes full, so does the lightning effect become more brilliant
- There are twenty-two light towers consisting of an efficient number of light projectors to achieve this creative effect
- The pools along the arcades reflect the mosque’s columns, which become illuminated at night
- The unique lighting system was designed by lighting architects Speirs and Major Associates to reflect the phases of the moon
- Beautiful bluish gray clouds are projected in lights onto the external walls and get brighter and darker according to the phase of the moon
- There are 82 domes of various sizes and the largest is located in the centre of the main prayer hall.
- The design elements include pure white marble cladding; onion shaped ‘crowns’ and crescent shaped finials decorated with gold-glass mosaic.
- The elongated windows allow the natural light to enter the prayer halls.
- The inside of the domes feature traditional Moroccan artwork which has been made from reinforced plaster called (GRG).
- Encircling the inside of the domes are verses from the Holy Quran which are also molded from GRG and painted in gold colour.
- Other domes are found on the grand gated entrance and other entrances.
- There are also fourteen green glass domes incorporated into the roof of the underground male and female ablution facilities.
- They are visible above ground and are an important feature of the Mosque’s Islamic garden design
- The pure white colour of the Mosque has become one of its most distinguishing characteristics
- Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may Allah rest his soul in peace ,the founder of the Mosque was fond of the colour white, a symbol of purity and piety
- The SZGM is cladded with numerous quantity of white marble on the external surfaces.
- The internal elevations of the main prayer hall feature traditional geometrical Islamic designs with a unique floral addition