With mosques every hundred feet, suffice to say I see many every day. But why not go visit the third largest mosque in the world, by square footage. Why not walk on the largest carpet in the world, and see some of the largest chandeliers ever made, withh Swarovski crystal. I’m in.
Classic line of the day from Bevan after I get dressed to go. “You can’t wear that to a mosque.” Oh. Right.
On the way there is lots of sand. I get so excited seeing the desert. Bevan finds this funny, but to a Toronto girl, the desert is a rare spectacle. He's laughing as I am hanging out the car window angling to photograph the sand. Bevan told me the city planta trees along the highway about two deep to give it ambiance, but then it’s all just sand. And more sand.
We drive out to Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE. I’m excited to enter yet another emirate. Then I catch glimpses of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Constructed entirely of a stunning white marble, this massive mosque is a true masterpiece. It cost $500 million to build and can hold 40,000 people praying at one time. It’s a beauty.
Tourists are everywhere and it is a sea of black, in sharp contrast to the entirely white structure. Every woman has to don an abaya and I’m reminded to cover my head as I walk inside. We have to leave our shoes and the marble floor is freezing beneath my feet.
The chandeliers in Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque are spectacular. I have never seen a chandelier of this magnitude, and there were seven of them. They are 24-carat gold-plated, with millions of Swarovski crystals, the largest one weighing 12 tons. We are told the chandeliers are the third largest in the world – the second largest inside a mosque.
And then there's the carpet. Yes, it’s just a carpet. But the story behind constructing the biggest carpet in the world is very cool. Coles Notes: It weighs 47 tons. It took two years to make, with 1,200 Iranian women working 24 hours a day in two work shifts. It’s 6,000 square metres. It’s very nice. It was made in nine pieces, flown to Abu Dhabi in two airplanes, and then sewn together.
TIP: Speak to the man at the counter inside the mosque – he knows all the cool facts. Men, take a trip to the washroom. It's a good one.
Published journalist, world traveller, big thinker, fun haver