A person regardless of faith orientation should be prepared to be filled with amazement as one makes its way to the halls of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
As with the other mosques that abound in the emirates, Grand Mosque is fundamentally a place of worship but it stands out far above the rest both in structure and grandeur. It has become an attraction for tourists and residents alike. I would like to believe though that it was indeed built to inspire awe and wonder.
A u-turn on the road allowed us to survey this imposing piece of architectural marvel from the dustless bus window while the sun was about to clock out for the day.
My family and I went through the routine scan and stood on the not so short queue of women for abaya, readying our IDs at the same time. No one enters a prayer house sacred to the Arabs without the proper clothing.
Abaya, is a black cloak or over-garment worn by many women in the Middle East and in many parts of the Arab world. It is a loose fabric used as a covering. Emirati women, as I have observed, wear their abayas with pride that made me really curious about it.
That’s my niece photobombing obliviously
What Arab women wear on a daily basis, I was able to try on for the first time (and none since) on a myth-busting humid night of May. You see, watching women in abayas led me to believe that putting it on over your clothes underneath is an unwise #ootd decision on summertime. I realised I was clearly wrong the moment I felt its light touch on my skin – it is light (just have to say this word one more time), flowy and breathable. I was very pleased.
Completing a proper attire requires footwear. Breaking news – you won’t need one. Your shoes won’t meet the thick soft carpets of Grand Mosque. Say goodbye for about 30 minutes or so to your heels, Stan Smith or the humble tsinelas as all sorts of footwear are not allowed inside the halls for good reason.
First, the worshipers pray on the floor so it is important for it to remain clean. Second is that your feet will thank you for walking barefoot in the end as the mosque is as huge as you can see. I recommend wearing socks as there are areas that are carpet-free and the tiles will give you cold feet you’d compromise your appreciation time.
Save for enchanting chandeliers, holy books, few furniture pieces and a mini-replica of Grand Mosque, expect to see large empty halls. And rightly so. Because that’s what mosques are – a house of prayer – therefore it must be spacious enough to accommodate its scores of worshipers.
That being said, it should be self-explanatory that proper behaviour must be strictly observed as one would accord to any sacred place. That goes without saying that no PDAs, lewd behaviour, loud noise and distracting actions.
Little Fiona apprehended for her goofy poses! Her face be like … (-_-)
Best time to visit
While I would like to make our trip during daytime for better lighting on the photos, the humidity of UAE summer precludes us from doing so. Thus, a night visit is the wise option. If you can, do make your trip on a weekday/weeknight for a lesser crowd equals shorter queues, quicker snaps and fewer photobombers. It also means better view and experience while appreciating this beauty.
Share – tell us what do you love about Grand Mosque? <3
Note: All pictures herein without our faces are grabbed from http://www.szgmc.ae/en/gallery.php.
Access the same site for more information about Grand Mosque.
Our date of visit was 27 May 2016.