A look at the magnificent mosques of the UAE

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While some countries are famous for their ancient and well-decorated mosques, the UAE is widely known for its iconic mosques where worshippers can enjoy serenity, tranquility and spirituality

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Published: Wed 1 Jul 2015, 1:05 AM

Last updated: Thu 6 Oct 2022, 2:59 PM

Abu Dhabi

Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Located in the capital city of the UAE, Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque opened its doors to the public in 2007. The beautiful mosque, built keeping in mind the historical and modern values of architecture and art, is the largest in the UAE and is also among the 10 largest mosques worldwide. The mosque — built by over 3,000 workers — was completed in 12 years at a total cost of Dh2.167 billion and can accommodate 40,000 worshippers. Up to 38 companies were engaged in the construction of the iconic structure.

It has four minarets which are 107 metres high each, along with 57 domes which are all decorated with white marble.

The best floral marble has been used to pave the courtyard of the mosque that measures about 17,000sqm. Seven copper and gold-plated chandeliers, including the world’s biggest which has a 10-metre diametre and 15 metre height, are fixed inside the mosque.

The Dh30-million carpet, the largest in the world, is another feature which helped the mosque enter the Guinness Book of World Records. Some 1,200 weavers took part in making this 47-tonne masterpiece which measures 5,627sqm in area.


Bur Dubai Grand Mosque

Out off over 1,418 mosques in the emirate, Bur Dubai Grand Mosque, built in 1850 and then rebuilt in 1952 and 1999 in the style of the original Grand Mosque, is the oldest in Dubai.

Originally served as a Kuttab (an Islamic elementary school) where boys and girls learned to recite and memorise the Holy Quran, the mosque is located in the Grand Souq area in Bur Dubai, near the Ruler’s Court.

Accommodating up to 1,965 people, it boasts of Dubai’s tallest minaret at 70 metres. The minaret is the tower from which the call to prayer is given.

The mosque, one of the largest in the UAE, is at the heart of Dubai’s religious and cultural life. Visitors can take photographs but cannot enter the mosque. It consists of 45 small and nine large domes with stained glass panels, sand-coloured walls and wooden shutters. The mosque’s sand-coloured walls and wooden shutters blend perfectly with the surrounding old quarter of Bur Dubai and is known for its size and elaborate design. The best time to see it is at night, when it is spectacularly lit up.


Blue Mosque

The majestic Al Farooq Omar bin Khattab Mosque, the largest in Dubai with a capacity for 2,000 worshippers, opened in 2011 in Al Safa area, adding to the city’s celebrated landscape and matching its ambition.

The majestic mosque, a replica of Istanbul’s fabled Blue Mosque, is designed to play a similar role that the historic Blue Mosque played with its extended community centre, a public kitchen, a hospital, a bazaar and a madrassa.

The 8,700sqm centre hosts regular inter-faith dialogues to dispel misconceptions about religions whereas the almost sleepy surroundings seem to be a reflection of the hallowed place of worship.

The mosques architecture is a mixture of Ottoman and Andalusian styles and the structure is based on Turkish mosques of the Ottoman era. The internal decorations, designs, calligraphy, inscriptions and patterns are taken after the Moorish style of Islamic Spain.

Held by a central dome that is 30 metres high and supported by 21 other half and full domes, the mosque has four 70-metre-tall minarets, the second tallest in the UAE after the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque minarets.


Green Mosque

Late in July 2014, the Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation opened the world’s first eco-friendly and smart mosque, known as Khalifa Al Tajer mosque, to worshippers in the Port Saeed area in Dubai.

Adopting the simple Bedouin Emirati architecture, the Dh20 million mosque has a built-up area of 45,000 square feet and can accommodate 3,500 worshippers.

Located on 105,000 square feet of land, the green mosque was designed with energy efficiency in mind and was built with environmentally friendly materials. It integrates cutting-edge green technologies, including sensor-operated water mixers while the used water is recycled for irrigation purposes.

Renewable energy solutions have been incorporated into the design of the mosque, where the exterior lighting poles are fitted with solar panels used instead of energy draining electric heaters.

Apart from the energy-saving LED lights being used, daylight sensors are everywhere whereas a smart climate control system regulates the air-conditioning units according to prayer times and number of worshippers.

Latest techniques of thermal insulation has been used for the roofs and exterior walls to reduce heat transfer.

Khor Fakkan

Salem Al Mutawa Mosque

Ever wondered about the mosque which adorns your Dh5 note? Called Salem Al Mutawa, it is one of the two oldest mosques in the UAE and lies west to the city of Khor Fakkan. Located across from the Khor Fakkan corniche and overseeing the mountains, the small white building of stone, palm fronds and trunks was formerly known as Al Gharb (West) Mosque.

It was renamed the Imam Salem Al Mutawa Mosque in March 2011 after Sharjah’s Department of Culture and Information’s heritage and culture office renovated and reopened it. It is now named after the last imam who presided there.

Much to the happiness and pride of the people of Khor Fakkan, it was chosen by the UAE Government as a design for the Dh5 note and the move prompted the natives in the locality to renovate the mosque.

Located just 20 metres from the sea, Salem Al Mutawa Mosque was originally built from old stones and trunks of palm trees, and everything in it is characterised by the nature of Arab origin. The water well dug then is still functional despite the rise in salinity levels in ground water.


Al Bidyah Mosque

The oldest mosque in the UAE can be found in Fujairah. Al Bidyah Mosque is believed to be 580 years old. It gives a feeling of being a building that just sprung up from the earth.

Although it has undergone several renovations over the years, the building’s basic, age-old characteristics remains unchanged.

The mosque has a small area of only 53 square metres and was built from materials available in the area, including stones of different sizes and terracotta-coloured mud.

It can accommodate only 50 to 70 people and a tall man can barely stand upright inside, as the roof is only 1.5-metre high.

Distinguishing the mosque are four helical domes that are supported by only one centrally placed pillar that also forms the ceiling. Entrance to the mosque is through double-winged wooden doors.

Not a surprise as it is nestled in a hillside of Fujairah. However, it has a long story to tell, a story that goes back to the year 1446.

The square-shaped mosque was built using big and small-sized stones and burnt mud as glue to stick the stones together.


Al Noor Mosque

Towering magnificently along the Corniche and skirting the coast and inland of the emirate to as far as the eastern region of Khor Fakkan, over 1,111 mosques dot the emirate of Sharjah, and Al Noor Mosque is one of the most magnificent.

Al Noor Mosque is located beside the Khalid Lagoon on the Buhairah Corniche. It is famous for its architecture resembling the ‘Blue Mosque’ in Turkey. It is bedecked with 34 elegant cascading domes in the exterior.

The mosque was built by order of Shaikha Jawaher bint Mohammed al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, The construction of the mosque started in 2003 and was completed in 2005.

The mosque, a living testimony to local residents whose families have lived in this oldest settlement in the emirate has a ladies section and can accommodate 2,200 people — 400 in the ladies section alone.

The design is on the lines of Turkish Ottoman architecture and was influenced by the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Turkey. In 2014, Al Noor Mosque set a Guinness World Record for the “World’s largest wooden charity box” for their Ramadan donation campaign.


King Faisal Mosque

King Faisal Mosque earns the honour of being the largest among Sharjah’s mosques and is named after King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, former Ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is built on a sprawling 12,000sqm area in the heart of Sharjah, and is near the Central Souq and Al Jubail Bus Station.

King Faisal mosque can accommodate 17,000 people, 12,000 of whom can be seated. Built in 1984 and opened to believers by 1987, King Faisal Mosque holds lectures at night during Ramadan on Hadith, Fiqh, Aqidah and on how to pray.

The building’s ground and first floors are devoted to the men’s mosque. The second floor is occupied by the Sharjah Department of Islamic Affairs and Awqaf, including offices and a library. The library contains about 7,000 books on Islamic history and thought, and modern books of Hadith and Sharia, plus scientific and cultural works.

The basement is the women’s mosque and has its own library. On the right side of the mosque, near the women’s prayer hall, is a large area where people can donate old clothes. It is organised by Sharjah International Charitable Organisation, which also has offices at the mosque.


Al Maghfirah Mosque

Al Maghfirah Mosque, stands elegantly in the Al Seef area near the Radisson Blue Hotel. Built in 1999, it opened for the general public in 2002 under the guidance of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. This mosque accommodates 3,000 people in all, 2,000 of whom can sit inside.

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