Indonesia breaks ground on $20m replica of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed offered the building as a gift in July 2019 during his visit to the country

Construction in Indonesia has begun on a $20 million replica of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, offered the building as a gift to the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, during his trip to the Muslim country in July 2019.

The ground-breaking ceremony took place on Monday in the president’s home town of Surakarta.

UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail Al Mazrouei and Dr Mohammed Al Kaabi, chairman of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, attended the event.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque will serve as a beacon of moderate Islam for the Indonesian people

Abdulla Al Dhaheri, UAE Ambassador to Indonesia

Mr Widodo’s eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who is mayor of Surakarta, also attended the ceremony, as did Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas and Erick Thohir, the Minister of State-Owned Enterprises.

Abdulla Al Dhaheri, the UAE's ambassador to Indonesia, said the new mosque represented the two countries' shared values of tolerance and peaceful coexistence.

"It is also a sign of our continuing relationship, which goes from strength to strength," he said.

"The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque will serve as a beacon of moderate Islam for the Indonesian people, and will be an architectural masterpiece, similar to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi."

Construction of the mosque is being financed by the UAE, and is expected to be completed by September 2022.

The replica will look almost identical to the original, only smaller, with four minarets and a central dome surrounded by four smaller domes. The architects have included Indonesian detailing. Local materials will be used for construction where possible.

When completed, the mosque will be large enough to house 10,000 worshippers at a time.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi can accommodate more than 40,000.

The three-hectare plot in central Java will also host a UAE-sponsored Islamic centre for teaching Indonesian clerics the importance of religious moderation.

A relationship of mutual respect

Last year, Sheikh Mohamed called for a mosque to be built in Abu Dhabi’s diplomatic area in honour of the Indonesian president.

He also renamed Al Maarid Street, behind Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, President Joko Widodo Street, in recognition of the leader's role in strengthening ties between the two countries.

The road was inaugurated in October in a ceremony that coincided with the anniversary of Mr Widodo’s election.

Diplomatic ties between the UAE and Indonesia began in 1976.

The Indonesian embassy opened in Abu Dhabi in October two years later, at the level of charge d’affaires.

Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father, visited the South-East Asian country in May 1990, a year before the UAE embassy opened in Jakarta.

Since then there have been frequent state visits between the two countries.

Mr Widodo visited Abu Dhabi in January 2020, when he was welcomed by Sheikh Mohamed.

During his trip, the UAE pledged to invest about $23 billion in Indonesia – through a sovereign wealth fund designed to finance infrastructure and energy projects – including in the country’s new capital in East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.

Mr Al Dhaheri said: "The UAE and Indonesia have close ties in the fields of politics, economics, health, agriculture, education and religion, and the construction of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque will only further the depth of these ties."

Updated: March 11, 2021 05:22 PM

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