Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre to hold major Hajj exhibition

Under the patronage of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre, SZGMC, in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, TCA Abu Dhabi, is organising an exhibition entitled "Hajj: Memories of a Journey", which will open to the public on September 20th, 2017.

"Hajj: Memories of a Journey" is being organised in celebration of the centre's 10th anniversary, and to further consolidate its cultural and enlightening role.

Telling the story and history of Makkah, and the rituals of Hajj as one of the five fundamental pillars and practices in Islam, the exhibition will bring to life the profound significance of the sacred practices, while also underlining the evident attributes of tolerance, equality and the vast diversity to be found in Islam.

The exhibition will be held on the grounds of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the most prominent and leading landmarks of culture and intellectual exchange in the UAE. The iconic mosque is widely visited by five million people annually to explore its unique architectural aesthetics, the stories of its construction and its distinct collections, making it the world’s second favourite landmark in the world in 2016, according to a list compiled by TripAdvisor.

Hajj: Memories of a Journey exhibition derives its perception from the nation’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may Allah rest his soul in peace, founder of the UAE’s own Hajj journey in 1979. It also coincides with SZGMCs celebration of its 10th anniversary, reflecting on the first prayer congregation held at the Mosque in 2007, the Eid al-Adha prayer, which in turn highlights the significance of the exhibition and associates one of the major pillars of Islam with the memory of its establishment as a true testament of what this great edifice signifies.

The exhibition also represents SZGMC’s mission to highlight the humanitarian virtues of co-existence and tolerance promoted by the late Sheikh Zayed, and will also emphasise the experience of Emirati pilgrims over the years, using oral histories and some of the earliest photographs and archive materials, illustrating the old routes and paths taken by pilgrims to Makkah from the UAE and the rest of the world, as well as the many challenges they faced during their travels.

The upcoming exhibition will display objects from major public and private collections, both from the UAE and from other countries around the world. Through a showcase of artefacts, historic photographs, multi-media displays and commissioned contemporary installations, "Hajj: Memories of a Journey" will unfold a rich and engaging narrative charting the history and cultural context for this spiritual pilgrimage. It will also offer a number of public programmes and educational workshops inspired by the exhibition’s concept and message.

Ahmed Juma Al Zaabi, Deputy Minister of Presidential Affairs and Board Chairman of the SZGMC, said, "The exhibition arose from the centre’s vision. It was also inspired by the doctrines of our Islamic faith and the humanitarian and cultural virtues established by the nation’s founder, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may he rest in peace."

Mr. Al Zaabi continued, "The centre’s emotive value by far exceeds its artistic and architectural value, making it one the most prominent landmarks in the world. Since its establishment in 2007, the centre has become a leading cultural and spiritual destination, serving as a beacon of intellect and reason through its various programmes and activities".

"By displaying historical artefacts and important documentation, SZGMC aims to underline the noble values that relay the significance of the journey of Hajj, and to convey a comprehensive image of this journey from the time Islam first evolved in the Arabian Peninsula to date. The centre clearly expresses the profound place it holds in the life of each and every Muslim in the UAE and in the entire world."

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of TCA Abu Dhabi, said, "Millions of Muslims descend on Makkah every year from all around the world to take part in rituals that bring them together in humility and unity, while reviving some of the deepest Islamic and cultural connotations. The significance of the "Hajj: Memories of a Journey" exhibition stems from these qualities of solidarity and the wide cultural dialogue, fostered by the fifth pillar of Islam.

"SZGMCs initiative to organise the exhibition in collaboration with TCA Abu Dhabi will represent the monumental influence Hajj had on numerous cultures, united by faith throughout the centuries. It will also feature objects ranging from historical artefacts to contemporary artworks, some never before exhibited." Mr. Al Mubarak added.

The exhibition will also highlight the exceptional experience by appreciating Sheikh Zayed’s own Hajj journey. This will introduce the public to the devotional and humanitarian aspects and legacy of his life, which President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, may Allah bless him, maintains through values of tolerance, moderation and cultural exchange.

"Hajj: Memories of a Journey" offers the public an opportunity to glance into the historical data and documents, and recounts the story of the early spread of Islam at various historical sites in the Arabian Peninsula. The exhibition will also refer to various verses and texts from the Holy Quran as well as the five pillars of Islam, which are concluded by Hajj and its sacred rituals.

"Hajj: Memories of a Journey" will begin with an exploration of the historical progression of the arrival and adoption of Islam in Arabia and evidence of the earliest centuries of Islamic practice, through key studies and archaeological sites in the United Arab Emirates. It will focus, too, on the significance of the Holy Quran, as a text divinely revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

Another special feature of the upcoming exhibition is that also on display will be a collection of the Kaaba's coverings, or ‘Kiswah’, from different historic eras, along with a collection of both public and private historic pictures from the UAE and other countries.

The exhibition bases its narrative on archived material, such as artefacts, historical images, documentaries, and rare transcripts, besides a variety of contemporary modern art and oral narrations that document the history of the sacred journey. The exhibition will also offer a series of public programmes and educational workshops, inspired by the concept of the exhibition and its message, told through many means.

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