Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Getting To The Other Side

St. Joseph's Cathedral was not the only religious building that I visited during my recent stay in Abu Dhabi (although it was the only one I worshipped at). The hotel that I was staying at was quite close to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque:

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and the eighth largest mosque in the world.It is named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and the first President of the United Arab Emirates, who is also buried next to the mosque(outer left side). The mosque was opened for worship since Eid Al Adha December 2007.

What the mosque may lack in history, it makes up for in appearance. The symmetrically pleasing design and high end materials employed in its construction have come together to create a spectacular structure to behold, both from a distance and up close.

While the mosque was quite close to the hotel it wasn't exactly easy to reach on foot. I had to cross an eight lane highway with traffic zipping by at 60-70MPH. Once I breached the first four lanes and reached the center island it was a good ten more minutes before I had a clear gap to clear the remaining four. A bit of virtual Frogger there and back.

The mosque provided plenty of photo opportunities with the setting sun and rising moon.

Since it was the Prophet Mohammed's birthday when I ventured over to the mosque, I was careful to keep a respectful distance from those gathered for the occasion. I did go inside the expansive marble courtyard which featured more spectacular views.

I would have liked to be able to get a glimpse inside the main prayer hall, which is said to hold up to 9000 worshippers. With the rather limited hours that tours are available my schedule did not allow it. But still, the views from the outside alone were well worth my trip across the road.