Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque connects Oman’s past and future

Country will mark third anniversary of Sultan Haitham's ascension on Thursday

Khalifa Nasser Al Maskery, 70, has been a volunteer tour guide for the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque for more than 8 years now. Victor Besa /The National
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Oman will mark the third anniversary of Sultan Haitham's ascension to the throne on Thursday with a national holiday.

Sultan Haitham succeeded Sultan Qaboos bin Said ― who ruled Oman for 50 years ― in January 2020.

The former ruler left a lasting legacy in the sultanate and is remembered as a moderniser who put Oman on the map as one of the fastest developing countries in the world, while still respecting its traditions.

One of the physical legacies is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat.

Sultan Haitham interacts with the people in Oman and listens to their opinions for a better future for the country and the citizens
Khalifa Al Maskery, Omani tour guide

Built more than 20 years ago, Oman's iconic landmark stands as a symbolic bridge between the country's past and future as one of its most popular buildings.

Khalifa Al Maskery, 71, an Omani volunteer who has worked in the mosque for eight years, said that after the passing of Sultan Qaboos, people found solace in the fact that he left many lifelong memories.

“He (Sultan Qaboos) was the father figure in Oman. He taught people in the sultanate to love peace, to honour and respect themselves and others and to love their country and culture,” Mr Al Maskery told The National.

“Sultan Haitham is following the steps of the late Sultan Qaboos to make all feel secure in this beautiful country.

“Sultan Haitham interacts with the people in Oman and listens to their opinions for a better future for the country and the citizens.”

Sulaiman Al Amri, 30, an Omani tour guide, said Sultan Haitham has inspired citizens to build on the achievements of Sultan Qaboos.

“Oman’s vision 2040 is a road map for all aspirations,” he said.

“We have huge confidence in our leadership and we know that Oman will have a better future with this vision.

“Education and work are our only means of development within the context of our Islamic civilisation represented in this mosque.”

Representing Oman’s history

As a guide at the mosque, Mr Al Maskery speaks with hundreds of tourists every week about the beauty and history of the building.

“During the winter, we have more than 3,000 tourists per day visiting the mosque mostly from Europe, US, Japan and China,” he said.

“This mosque represents a lot of Oman’s history with its iconic carpet and huge chandelier.”

He described Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque as an architectural and artistic marvel that reflects the beauty of Islamic, Oriental and Omani art.

Oman commissioned Swarovski, the Austrian crystal glass manufacturer, to design the chandelier.

Sulaiman Al Amri is a tour guide at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Victor Besa / The National

Hanging from the mosque's large dome above the prayer hall, the chandelier is eight metres in diameter and 14 metres high, weighing about eight tonnes.

It has 1,000 halogen lamps surrounded by 600,000 pieces of crystal glass, which are supported by an array of gold-plated structures.

“At the time it was installed, just a few months before the grand mosque was opened in May 2001, the grandiose chandelier was the biggest in the world,” Mr Al Maskery said.

Carpet weighing 21 tonnes was brought from Iran and with Iranian women laying it on an area of 4,263 square metres.

“It contains 1,700 million knots and took 27 months to make,” he said.

“It has thousands of beautiful patterns of intricate Islamic designs beautifully woven together in great harmony.

“It is a feast for the eyes of any visitor who comes to see it.”

The mosque's square roof is surrounded by the central dome with a total height of 50 metres.

“It has five minarets that define the five pillars of Islam. The main minaret is 92 metres tall while the rest are 45 metres,” Mr Al Amri said.

The mosque has a capacity of 6,500 worshippers inside, while gardens outside can accommodate 10,000. A separate hall for women holds 4,000.

Updated: January 11, 2023, 8:25 AM