I have been guiding here in Abu Dhabi now for five years, and have NO idea how many times I have been to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, countless!
But since I hadn't been back to the mosque since before Covid (isn't it crazy, how that has become a "thing", pre-Covid/post-Covid, although are we really 'post' yet?)
I decided to go for a visit just for my own pleasure yesterday, and asked a friend of mine to come along. I needed to check out if there were any new procedures, and if anything had changed. I wanted to just enjoy the mosque, and take some nice, new photos.
Some things had indeed changed, like the entrance to the walkway tunnel:
The tunnel itself had also got some new photos and decorations added to it, from the construction of the mosque, of important visitors, and of how Ramadan is celebrated here. Great idea actually, as you can tell the guests so many stories with the visual help of these photos!
Here you can see a photo from the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 2010, and a photo of the 2019 visit of Pope Francis:
Pretty pretty pretty!
I don't know how many photos I have taken of this amazing building... sooo many! I just can't help it, I take photos every time I'm there, every time! My very favourite part of the mosque is the pillars around the courtyard. The panels decorated with Pietra Dura, are all hand made, which means all these semi-precious stones are hand set! There are 1096 pillars, and with 18 panels on each pillar - you do the math and conclude what a big job that was!
We participated in one of the tours done by the cultural guides, so we could get in onto the carpet, and take some more photos! I have done several of those tours and even though I know most of what they are talking about, I always learn something new. This time I learnt some more details about the "praying lines" on the carpet, can you see them here below? They are there to help the worshippers keep their lines straight, as they are supposed to pray "shoulder to shoulder".
My friend Kathleen and I:
We also went down to the washrooms, because there is beauty absolutely everywhere here in the mosque, even in the toilets! Look at these beautiful Iznik panels:
The ablution room:
And a quick selfie!