The Grand Mosque of Abu Dabi is the premier place of worship in the city. During major holidays and Eid prayers, it is visited by up to 41,000 people. It took nearly ten years to build the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
The project was initiated by the late president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He was buried next to the complex that bears his name. The building designed by architect Yousef Abdelky was completed in 2007. The huge mosque covers an area of 12 ha, measuring 290 by 420 m (950 by 1,380 ft).
In the opening year of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, it was voted as the world's second favorite landmark by TripAdvisor travelers. Its Moorish archways and classical Arab minarets symbolize cultural diversity and uniqueness. The Mosque design and architecture incorporate architectural styles of different Muslim countries like Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco, and Egypt implemented by the British, Italian, and Emirati architects. The courtyard of the mosque occupying 17,000 sq. m bears the largest marble mosaic in the world.
The main prayer hall boasts the world's largest carpet. Iranian textile artist Ali Khaliqi designed it. This 12-tonne carpet, which covers 5,627 sq. m (60,546 sq. ft), took almost two years to make. Some 1,200 weavers from Khorasan Province crafted the rug using 38 tonnes of cotton and wool with about 2.2 billion hand-tied knots.
Other unique features of the mosque include the large chandelier manufactured by a German company Faustig of Swarovski crystals. It is known as the third largest chandelier in the world.
The visit to the Mosque is free. The doors are open daily from 9 am to 10 pm. (last entry is allowed up to 9.30 pm.), except on Fridays when it's open from 4.30 pm. to 10 pm. For an insight into the incredible religious and cultural secrets of the Mosque, join the free complimentary one-hour guided tour. The most romantic lighting illuminates the passages at about 5 pm, so the sunset tour is one of the best times to visit the Grand Mosque.