Chechnya on Friday opened what it said was Europe’s largest mosque, in a ceremony attended by several Gulf officials including from the UAE.
The marble-decorated building, which is named after the Prophet Mohammed, can hold more than 30,000 people and was described by the Chechen authorities as the “largest and most beautiful” mosque in Europe.
An Uzbeki architect designed the 9,700 square metre holy site.
The mosque’s flower-lined grounds can accommodate an additional 70,000 worshippers, Chechen authorities said.
The opening of the mosque was attended by the UAE Minister of Tolerance Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Abdullatif Al Sheikh, and the Kuwaiti Amiri Diwan adviser and chairman of the International Islamic Charitable Organisation (IICO) Dr Abdullah Al Maatouq.
The secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Yousef Al Othaimeen, was also present for the opening, while the Muslim World League secretary general Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al Issa delivered the first Friday sermon to be given in the mosque, the Saudi Gazette reported.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said the mosque, which is located in Shali – a town near to the regional capital of Grozny – was "unique in its design and majestic in its size and beauty".
Although he did not attend the opening, Russian President Vladimir Putin commended the inauguration of the mosque, saying it was of great importance to the region and the Chechen Republic.
Mr Kadyrov has governed the Muslim-majority region since 2007 and has worked to promote Islam in Chechnya.
In October 2018, he opened the Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque – also known as “The Heart of Chechyna” – in the region’s capital. Mr Kadyrov and Mr Putin attended the building’s inauguration ceremony.