It has taken almost 10 years to build and construction has still not finished. But visitors eager to set their eyes on the country’s largest mosque will soon get the chance.
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority will launch tours of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque from next month. The massive mosque, which will be completed next year, is currently only open to delegations of VIPs and members of the media. But beginning in March, visitors can stop by the information centres run by the authority and dispersed across the capital in malls, hotels and on main streets to schedule a tour.
The iconic landmark was built as a testament to harmony between people and cultures and it contains art and ornaments from China, Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, Turkey, Iran, Greece and the UAE. The mosque was entered into the Guinness World Records for containing the world’s largest carpet and chandelier.
While the authority did not release the times for scheduled visits, it said the new system is intended to allow the maximum number of visitors to the capital to enjoy the building, led by knowledgeable guides who can answer questions and provide relevant history.
Construction began in 1998 and was divided into two phases. The first phase cost around Dh750 million and included foundation work and the cement structure. The second phase has been estimated at Dh1.26 billion and comprises the finishes including internal and external Islamic ornaments.
The mosque is among the 10 largest in the Islamic world and its main dome – rising 83 metres and running 32.8 metres across – is the highest in the world, according to the Islamic Conference Organisation’s Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture.
Four minarets stand around the dome, each 107 metres in height and covered in white marble, ready to watch over the 40,000 worshippers the building can accommodate. More than 2,000 labourers have worked to create the monument under the supervision of 10 senior engineers.
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