/ Adventure Travel
adventure — By Vawn on November 27, 2009 at 3:41 pm
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Mosque etiquette in Abu Dhabi

160Abu Dhabi is home to the third-largest mosque in the world – an architectural marvel made of marble and gold that fits up to 40,000 worshippers. Regardless of your nationality or religion (or lack thereof), it’s possible to visit the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque (named after the late ruler of the United Arab Emirates), but there are a few things to keep in mind in terms of mosque etiquette.

Abu Dhabi is the second-largest city in the UAE (after flashier Dubai), which is located on a T-shaped island that juts into the Persian Gulf. And the Grand Mosque, as it’s referred to locally, is one of its main attractions. During the full moon, the mosque glows pristine white, and as the moon wanes over its 28-day cycle, it transforms to a bluish hue.

The mosque, which was designed by an Italian architect and took a decade to build, features 80 white marble domes, 1,054 white marble columns inlaid with a pattern of flowering vines and more than 20,000 handmade marble panels encrusted with semi-precious stones, including lapis lazuli, amethyst and mother of pearl.

The main prayer hall features the world’s largest hand-woven Persian carpet – at 7,119 square metres – made by 120 women over three years. Gold-plated chandeliers imported from Germany (the largest of which weighs nine tons) are dripping with thousands of Swarovski crystals.

If you’re visiting the Grand Mosque, or other mosques that allow visitors, here are a few tips on etiquette:

174-Avoid visiting within half an hour of the Islamic call to prayer. These times change daily, according to sunrise and sunset. And avoid walking in front of anyone engaged in prayer, whether they’re standing, bowing or sitting.

-Wear loose, conservative clothing – no shorts or sleeveless tops. At larger mosques, women are typically provided with a robe and headscarf to wear at no charge. If you’re a woman, it’s always advisable to carry a scarf with you.

-Remove your shoes before entering the mosque. This helps to prevent the carpet from getting dirty, since worshippers sit on the floor, rather than in chairs. When sitting, it’s considered offensive to sit with your legs stretched out and your feet pointing in the direction of Mecca.

-Ask permission before taking photos. If permissible, turn off your flash. Also, avoid public displays of affection, as well as eating, drinking and chewing gum.

Photo Copyright @ 2009 VH Media

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