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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: 5 Fascinating Facts You Didn’t Know

Nestled in the heart of Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a breathtaking work of art that draws visitors worldwide. This stunning masterpiece is known for its spectacular architecture, intricate design, and grandeur. But did you know that several fascinating facts about this majestic structure are often overlooked? From the sheer scale of its construction to the precious materials used in its creation, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is full of surprises that will leave you in awe. So, follow along and get ready to uncover some of the most interesting facts you didn't know about this architectural wonder.

1. The materials used to build the mosque were brought in from all around the world

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is hailed for its beautiful designs and intricate details. From the world’s largest marble mosaic floors to the distinctive bright domes topped with stunning gold leaf spires, every feature and detail in this dimension represents a form of global unity. The materials used to build this iconic mosque were imported from multiple countries around the world, bringing the best from each destination to achieve architectural brilliance. The designers sourced building materials from countries such as New Zealand, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Pakistan, Italy, Germany, Austria, China and India.

2. Its iconic chandeliers resemble upturned palm trees, a symbol of prosperity in the UAE.

The famed crystal chandeliers, designed by German Faustig, pay tribute to the late founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan. They resemble an upturned palm tree, symbolising the UAE's sustenance and prosperity. The stainless-steel chandeliers are adorned with 24-carat gold plates and Swarovski crystals, with nearly 40 million units of green, red, and yellow-coloured crystal balls integrated into the design.

3. The mosque's lighting system is connected to the lunar cycle

The mosque's facade glows softly at night, synchronised with the lunar cycle, creating a building that 'breathes with the moon'. Speirs and Major Associates designed a 360-degree lighting scheme that shifts the mosque's colour from cool white during a full moon to gradually deeper blue as the moon wanes, changing every two evenings. And on the fourteenth night of the cycle, the moon is lit in its deepest blue, which signifies the 'no moon' in the sky. The system is not just a feat of technology but also a work of art that inspires awe in all who see it.

4. Its design is inspired by Mughal, Ottoman and Persian architecture

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the finest example of Islamic art, combining Mughal, Moorish, Ottoman and Persian architecture. The result is a breathtaking fusion of tradition and modernity, a structure honouring the past while looking to the future. The architectural gem is a testament to the creativity, skill, and vision of those behind it. It symbolises the UAE's commitment to preserving its cultural heritage while embracing the future.

5. Its construction began in 1996 and took 11 years to build

What started as a passion project of the UAE's late founding father, Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan, turned into a place of worship, an architectural marvel and an iconic tourist attraction. Following 11 years of work by a team of experts from around the world, the mosque opened its doors to the public on December 20, 2007. Today, the mosque is the burial place of the honourable man behind its vision - Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan - and an essential beacon of tolerance.

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