Ramadan 2021: Dubai residents cherish Deira mosque that is older than the UAE

Omar Ali bin Haider mosque – with its striking minaret and white dome – has welcomed worshippers since 1952

The Omar Ali bin Haider mosque may not be on the tourist trail, but it is close to the hearts of residents who for a long time have called Dubai home.

Built in 1952, the mosque has been welcoming worshippers since the seven emirates were known as the Trucial States.

It is one of the oldest structures in the country and is in Deira, near another Dubai landmark, Al Ghurair Centre.

The house of worship is known for its striking architecture, with one blue-tiled minaret adjacent to a graceful dome that welcomes worshippers within its 465-square metre prayer hall.

Inside, there are Quranic verses inscribed on the walls, with an enormous chandelier hanging in the middle.

It is a peaceful place of worship in old Dubai where the endless sounds of the city outside seem very far away.

An enormous chandelier hangs inside in the middle of the Omar Ali bin Haider mosque. Pawan Singh / The National 
An enormous chandelier hangs inside in the middle of the Omar Ali bin Haider mosque. Pawan Singh / The National

“It is the most popular mosque in the area,” said Waqas Ali, a waiter who has been working in the area for four years.

“The mosque is one most people on Al Rigga Street and some from Al Muraqqabat Road come to pray in. It’s our community mosque. It has a beautiful design and history.”

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the house of worship attracted hundreds at prayer times.

During Eid it became even busier, with large crowds of people, dressed up for the Muslim holiday, exchanging greetings and hugs after the Eid prayer.

The mosque, however, is also popular with people of other religions who live in the area.

Shilpa Parmar has lived near Al Ghurair Centre for 20 years.

“Once, while passing around in the evening, the mosque caught my eye,” she said.

“The beauty of the mosque reflected beautifully under the moonlight. The shape of the dome, which is made of white and blue stones, the unique entrances and the staircases that lead to the entrance – it’s all very eye-catching.

“The mosque has a backdrop of the glamorous Al Ghurair Residence, which perfectly reflects how Dubai has grown to be one of the most beautiful modern cities in the world, but also respects and preserves its Islamic culture.”

The mosque was built by the late Omar Ali bin Haider, an Emirati businessman who was known for his philanthropic work in the centre of Dubai in the 1950s and 1960s.

Apart from building mosques, Mr Al Haider would also offer his support to traders and others who were exhausted from their long travels to reach Dubai.

In 1967, he died aged in his mid-forties. His son Mohammed Omar renovated the mosque in 1984, honouring his father’s contribution to society and following in his footsteps by serving the community.

Mosques of the UAE

Updated: April 18, 2021 09:24 AM

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