Sheikh Zayed Mosque inner main courtyard. Photo NeilvdL.

A major architectural landmark, at the main entrance of the city and visible from all entering roads, the huge Sheikh Zayed Mosque stands out not only for what it is, a vast impressive combination of design elements of mosques elsewhere, but also for what it is not, namely a modern answer to the history of mosque building. Not in all facets of its building aspirations does Abu Dhabi follow the challenge of reinventing architecture, which was the principle behind the architecture on Saadiyat Island and the Sheikh Zayed Bridge. This leaves cities like Djakarta, Dhaka, Lahore, Beirut, Casablanca and London to be the frontrunners in thinking about contemporary mosque building. Remarkably, Dubai has not built a grand mosque until now.

But despite its ‘conservative’ architecture, the building is remarkable in many details, the whitewashed walls, the inlaid ornamentations, the construction of the ceiling, the use of water around the courtyard, the modern mosaics, the chandeliers, the use of stained glass and its effect on the colors of the light coming inside, etc.




Written by: Neil Last modified: 16th Nov 2012