Timeframe: When Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque marked its first Ramadan in 2008

Last year, the landmark hosted 695,000 guests during the holy month

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was inaugurated in December 2007. Victor Besa / The National
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As the largest mosque in the country, it’s no surprise that the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is a popular place of worship during Ramadan.

Last year, the mosque hosted 684,945 guests from around the world during the holy month, state news agency Wam reported. A record number, more than 60,000 worshippers, also visited the mosque on the 27th night of Ramadan to observe Laylat Al Qadr.

This year’s Ramadan is the 16th for the mosque. Inaugurated in December 2007, its prayer halls were opened just in time for Eid Al Adha, which started on the evening of December 18. The Eid prayers allowed many to witness the magnificence of the mosque close up for the first time. By then, its towering domes had already become a landmark in the capital. Its design took cues from across the Islamic world, aiming to fuse them with modern architectural approaches.

The mosque had been built under the guidance of UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Sheikh Zayed never saw the completed project but was buried in the courtyard of the mosque.

The mosque marked its first holy month in 2008, with the first prayers of Ramadan taking place on September 1. As expected, the turnout was significant. It had become clear by then that with the number of people visiting the mosque during religious holidays, as well as the holy month, an office needed to be established to manage day-to-day operations. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre was founded in 2008 and apart of its administrative functions it also offered educational initiatives, as well as a library that delved into the history of Islam and its contributions in science and the arts.

Over the past 16 years, the mosque has become a key location of worship during the holy month. This means measures have to be taken to ensure the safety of visitors.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre announced this month that it formed committees and teams to ensure it meets the needs of worshippers and visitors throughout Ramadan.

The centre has enlisted 580 volunteers to work alongside its employees, the Emirates Red Crescent, police, paramedics and the civil defence. It has also provided more than 70 electric cars to ferry worshippers from the car parks to prayer halls, with priority given to the elderly and the disabled, while there are also 8,379 parking spaces. The centre has also provided more than 1,480 carpets for worshippers and cleaned and sterilised carpets in the mosque's halls and courtyard to ensure the safety of worshippers.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre collaborated with the Ministry of Defence to fire a cannon announcing the beginning of Ramadan, in co-ordination with the Moon-Sighting Committee. A cannon will be fired at the mosque to mark the end of the fast each day and also to announce the start of Eid Al Fitr.

Updated: March 17, 2024, 3:27 AM