Having of cultural guidance at Sheikh Zayed Grand
Having been in Dubai for the past 18 years, I’ve grown to love the various aspects of the culture that has flourished, from the hummus to the call to prayers delivered from mosques surrounding the vast landscape of Dubai. Whilst visiting these mosques on a daily basis, I couldn’t help but notice the various complex geometric patterns that clad the building. Each mosque retains its uniqueness due to several factors, but the one prominent one which stands out is these patterns whether made on concrete or with the usage of polychrome tiles. Geometric motifs, specifically vine-like and calligraphy are heavily used in Islamic decoration, octagons and stars are incorporated to add more details. Mathematically complex geometric pattern and floral motifs such as arabesque are a common feature of Islamic architecture. Another component which stands out when it comes to Islamic architecture is undoubtedly the domes. Developed by the Ottomans, domes with huge diameters were placed above flat buildings, serving the role of a representative building. Another architectural element which set Islamic architecture apart from the rest are Minarets (which were originally torch-lit towers) The oldest minaret of the world is a part of the Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia. Deriving inspiration from Persian architecture and design elements similar to the Mughal age, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a sight to behold. The mosque was made open to the public on December 20, 2007. A decade forth, the mosque has not only managed to be a place of worship, and the burial location of the Late Sheikh Zayed, but also a landmark and a tourist destination. “It took 11 years to construct this magnificent building,” says Ishaq Mohammed Almushairi, senior specialist of cultural guidance at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. “The idea was that this could be a place to spread a vision of tolerance, co-existence and peace. For that reason, they wanted the mosque to be built in a white colour.” About 33,000 tonnes of steel were used in the construction, and it sits on 6,500 foundation piles. As one makes their way onto the courtyard, the iridescent appearance of the floor along with its marble texture adds on to the grandeur of the mosque. Never is the stature of this landmark, intimidating, or invasive. Complex designs of flowery patterns provide this landmark with an earthy element. One can observe the royal magnificence representing Abu Dhabi, reaching the outdoors of the mosque. Minarets reach to the sky in a symmetrical fashion as the pearlescent columns cascade in the gleaming waters of the pools adjacent to the entrance. There are 96 columns in the main prayer hall adorned with mother-of-pearl and the 1096 columns of the exterior are decorated with over 20,000 marble panels inlaid with semi-precious stones including abalone shell, amethyst, lapis lazuli, mother of pearl, and red agate. As 2018 marks the Year of Zayed, there’s no befitting time than now to head over to Abu Dhabi and spend your day at the landmark, with friends or family. I highly recommend the complimentary one hour guided tour to get an in-depth understanding and the history that has made this landmark a must visit for anyone visiting the UAE.