Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque - Abudhabi, United Arab Emirates
Hi Guy’s, my name is Aromal Anil, a Mechanical Engineer By profession and a Freelance Photographer too. Right now i am working in Abudhabi, UAE and this is my first official Blog Post and also an official Launch for this website. A lot of places in UAE came to my mind when I thought of writing my first Blog Post and I am really happy that I have chosen the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque as my first destination to explore in UAE. It was really worth it and I was lucky enough to capture some amazing shots during my visit to this extraordinary Landmark.
A BRIEF HISTORY
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was built as per the vision of the founder and first President of UAE Late His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Named after the president himself, it is the third largest mosque in the world covering an area of more than 30 Acres (Excluding exterior landscaping and the vehicle parking). The construction of the mosque started way back in 1997 and was completed in December 2007. More than 38 Contracting companies from various countries with an estimate of 545 million $US and 3500 workers were involved in the construction of this Iconic Structure. The Mosque was initially opened to the public for prayers on 20th December 2007 and the First prayer was held in presence of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the current President of the UAE. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is also the final resting place of His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan who passed away on 2nd November 2004.
THE GRAND MOSQUE THROUGH MY EYES
I visited Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on a Friday Evening (30/06/2017) as it is the only day off for me, from my busy job as a Mechanical Engineer. There is no entry fees charged for entering the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, but any person before entering the mosque premises should undergo a security check in procedure just like an airport security check. The security guards basically checked my camera bag and told to remove anything metallic from my body (like belts, watch, chain etc..) and I was asked to walkthrough a scanner.
'A Strict dress code should be followed while inside the mosque premises. All women are instructed to wear the traditional long dress Abaya and head scarf shaya, which will be provided by the mosque authorities (to be returned to service desks once the tour is over). No shorts and tight dress are allowed for men / women while inside the mosque premises'.
Once everything was confirmed ok, I was directed to the mosque. I was stunned by the architectural beauty of the mosque when I saw it. The Sheikh Zayed grand mosque is very famous for its white appearance with amazing architectural designs on it.
The front Entrance wall of the mosque is decorated with beautiful designs of flowers and leaves on it.
Just further back to the entrance of the mosque there is a fountain with water sprinklers arranged sequentially that’s sprays water up which adds beauty to the mosque further.
While roaming outside the mosque I saw some glass structures which caught my attention.
At last just before entering the mosque, I clicked this beautiful water pool in front of either sides of the mosque Entrance. The Mosque reflection seen in this water pool amplifies its beauty again.
Finally I entered the mosque and the first thing that caught my attention was the decorated pillars (more than a thousand of them) with hand painted flowers on it that runs throughout the courtyard.
The beautiful floral design of the courtyard covers an area of 180,000 sq ft.
My camera also pointed towards the decorated wall tiles and ceiling I saw on the way.
Mosque Security gaurds can be seen monitoring the visitors. Visitors are not allowed to enter certain areas of the mosque, which will be cautioned by the gaurds if anyone does so.
I kept on walking amazed by all the splendid Architectural designs and finally reached to the entrance of the prayer hall of the mosque. Before entering the prayer hall, shoes has to be removed. There are shoe racks provided to which you can keep the shoes. So I removed my shoes and started walking to the prayer hall.
Just before entering the prayer hall, I had to walk through a big room where I saw some beautifully designed glass windows. The mosque background seen through these glass windows gives a unique style of attraction.
The entire wall of this room is beautifully decorated as if some sort plant was growing over the walls.
Even the floor was also designed very well, this was what I saw when I looked down.
A beautiful Chandelier can be seen just at the Entrance of the Prayer Hall.
When i entered the Prayer Hall, i saw a guy (he seems like a tour guide) who was explaining about the interior of the prayer hall to a bunch of people and I noticed that each and every corners of the prayer hall were filled with splendid architectural designs. I kept on clicking pictures every time he pointed out at something.
Based on what he said the floor carpet of the prayer hall is a single piece hand knotted carpet covering an area of 5700 Sqm and was made by the effort of around 1300 artisans from Iran (Ohh My God !!!!!!). This Main Prayer Hall can accommodate upto 7000 persons.
Next he told about the Suspended Crystal Chandeliers imported from Germany. There are a total of seven such chandeliers situated in the hall and foyer's. Glass panels studded with Swarovski crystals are installed in all of them. The Chandelier seen inside the prayer hall is one of the world's largest Chandelier inside a mosque. I felt like diamonds hanging down from the ceiling when the tour guide showed it to us (All chandeliers of the mosque are made from stainless steel and brass, galvanized with Gold).
The tour guide then pointed his fingers to a big wall mounted clock displaying prayer time in both Arabic and English Sequentially.
Next we were shown sets (a set has four pillars) of massive pillars which where situated at various points of the prayer hall. These white marble pillars are also beautifully decorated.
A big Golden design of a flower can been seen between these massive pillars.
Arabic Inscriptions on wall (Inside Prayer Hall) also caught the attention of my eyes.
Finally i came out of the Prayer Hall to the Courtyard, put my shoes back and started walking to the front entrance of the mosque. Time was 5:30 pm then. I went out and stood on a shady area infront of the mosque and started checking all the pictures that i have taken. I was happy that i was able to capture some beautiful snaps of the mosque.
But wait my journey doesn't end here !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
While outside the mosque i met few fellow Photographers and i had a brief talk with them. I showed a couple of snaps i took, to them and they showed some of the photos they took, to me. We were talking about the type of cameras and lenses popular in the Market now (All of us are using Canon cameras). Every one agreed to the fact Sony now gives a good range of mirrorless camera's (Sony A6300 & A6500 came to my mind then). One of the guys told me that if i am planning to stay till night then i could take some night shots of the mosque as well (The rest of them said they were leaving as their batteries doesn't have enough backup to click till night).
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has a different beauty at night. The mosque will be lightened up from all corners and this light easily blends with the overall white colour of the mosque giving a much more stunning look. I checked my Battery status and lucky for me 50% was still remaining. By this time i was little tired, thirsty and sweating all over (Damm.... can't bear the heat outside).
There is a big cafeteria inside the mosque premises (Or is it a cafeteria ?, looked like one to me), i went there had a coffee and sat there for some time and slowly i had the energy to be in action again. But still its 6:15 pm and the light wont be turned on until 7:00 pm .
So i waited until the lights were On and what i was about to see really blew me away.
My first impression was simple - wow ! woW ! wOW ! WOW !
I mean i couldn't believe my eyes, the striking White and Golden colour that shined during day time was completely transformed at night by this unique lighting system in such a way that it reflects the different phases of the moon.
I started Roaming outside the mosque to get some good frames.
Just like in the day time, the mosque reflections on the water pool at night is also magnificient.
I decided not to view the snaps taken, click carefully and switch to manual focussing since the battery charge was draining out too fast. I thought of getting inside the mosque once again to check how the mosque looked inside with all the lightings.
Once inside the mosque i started walking through the courtyard to the entrance of the Mosque Prayer hall. On my way i started clicking pictures again.
The Decorated Glass and the Chandelier of the Prayer Hall.
I was amazed to see the Prayer Hall in a Golden look with all the Lightings inside. The Suspended Chandeliers looked even more beautiful than in day time. After Spending a breif period of time in the Prayer Hall, i came out of the mosque. My camera battery charge is almost over. Outside the mosque some rectangular display lights on ground caught my attention and i clicked some photos of it before my camera went completely off.
I was really happy and content eventhough the camera went off since i was able to capture some amazing snaps (It would have been a great loss for me if i had left in the evening).
I stood outside for a while looking at the mosque and thought of ideas on how to present this blog to you. The hardest part is choosing the right picture and retouching it. So many things went through my mind then.
Over all i enjoied my trip to The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
I highly recommend this place for a visit if you are in Abudhabi.
Time was around 8:30 pm then. I decided to leave soon and if i don't get a good night sleep , i will be late next day for work (which i seriously want to avoid).
I started packing my camera bag and walked towards the exit of the mosque compound.