Arabian Nights

Abu Dhabi, UAE

January 2022

Picture credits: Josh Corder

If you are a 90s kid like me, there’s a high probability that you have loved and fantasised about being the bold Jasmine, staying in that beautiful white palace, flying around on a carpet. Yes! I am talking about the original Alladdin only! It’s a different feeling all together when your childhood fantasy takes real-time shape and size!

The first time I visited Abu Dhabi, it was at 2 am in the night and I had this blurry, jet-lagged impression of this Alladdin-like marble structure through the window of my car. I just pushed it out of mind and just looked out for the joyous moment when I can sleep. Next day, my parents decided to show me around and that was when it grabbed me by the neck! The feeling of deja vu!

Being one of the world’s largest mosque should be an indefinite pressure. But the Grand mosque will astonish the tourists as well as the worshipers with its stark beauty and its architectural intricacies.

Work on Abu Dhabi’s beacon of splendor started in 1996 and took 12 years to complete, at the reported cost of around $545 million. Now the third-largest mosque in the world at 22,412 square meters, it covers an area equivalent to nearly four football fields, and holds more than 40,000 worshippers.

Spiritual significance and endless superlatives come together under 82 white marble domes, 1,096 exterior columns, 96 semi-precious jewel-encrusted internal columns and seven 24-carat gold plated Swarovski crystal chandeliers, making it the jaw-dropping centerpiece of the city’s cultural legacy. Inspired by Persian, Mughal and Moorish architecture, over 3,000 artisans from 38 global construction companies were involved in making the mosque a global success. No wonder there are three Guinness World Records bestowed to this grand masterpiece:

A) Largest handwoven carpet

B) The biggest chandelier made of 24-carat gold plated Swarovski crystals

C) The largest dome of its kind in the world.

Pro tips:

  • Modest dress is a must for all visitors as it’s a Muslim site. Women should cover their legs, arms and heads and men are required to wear long trousers. However the mosque does provide free traditional abayas (robes) prior to entry, which takes the hassle out of trying to find a mosque-appropriate outfit.
  • The mosque is free to visit and opens daily between 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (last entry 9.30 p.m.), except on Friday mornings (Islam’s holy day), when it opens between 4.30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Free complimentary one-hour guided tours are definitely worth signing up for, as they’re a great insight into the incredible wonder, religion and culture.
  • Sunset tour which starts at 5 pm is another great option for those who want to be seduced by the romance of the ambience.

Related (and not-so related) Posts:

United Arab Emirates


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