Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Though a bit lighter on the big-name tourist sites than the neighboring Emirate of Dubai, national capital Abu Dhabi is by far the richest and most politically powerful of the seven Emirates. Though the city center is a bit understated compared to that of Dubai, one of the places they really manage to make their national dominance known is at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
This is the largest mosque in the Emirates and the eighth largest in the world. Driving out of the city center to get to the mosque, the 82 domes and four 107m minarets mean you can enjoy the view of the building long before you actually arrive. Said to be large enough to hold over forty thousand worshippers, even on the busiest of tourist days it doesn’t exactly feel crowded. In mid-summer, when temperatures in Abu Dhabi can hit 188 F, the cool marble floors of the mosque can feel like a sanctuary even to those who are not particularly religiously inclined.
Essentially the founding father of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed is buried on the grounds of this mosque which bears his name. Despite having laid the cornerstone of the building, he died several years before the mosque was completed in 2007. Of course, you don’t need to be a student of Emirati history to appreciate the mosque itself. As an architectural piece or photographic subject it makes for a nice excuse to get out of the Abu Dhabi city center for a bit. After all, you can’t spend your whole day wandering around garish hotels with their gold vending machines!
Have you visited the United Arab Emirates? What other experiences there measured up to visiting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque? Let us know in the comments!