Abu Dhabi Mosque Receives 3.3m Visitors In 2023, Showcasing Its Cultural And Religious Significance
Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre (SZGMC) is one of the world's largest and most beautiful mosques, as well as a symbol of tolerance and cultural diversity. The mosque, which was the vision of the late Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, attracts millions of visitors every year from different backgrounds and faiths, who come to admire its architectural splendor and learn more about its history and values.
In the first half of 2023, the mosque received 3.334.757 visitors, a 127 percent increase compared to the same period last year. The visitors comprised 914,195 worshippers, who performed their daily prayers and attended special occasions such as Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha, and some 2.388.437 tourists, of which 1.684.409 visited the mosque and 704,028 visited the mosque's visitor center and market. The visitor centre and market offer a variety of souvenirs, books, artworks, and food items that reflect Emirati culture and Islamic heritage.
The mosque is not only a place of worship but also a cultural hub that showcases Islamic art and architecture, as well as local heritage. The mosque offers free guided tours in various languages, led by trained cultural tour specialists who explain the mosque's features and significance. The mosque also hosts religious and cultural programs throughout the year, such as lectures, workshops, exhibitions, festivals, and competitions, that aim to educate and inspire visitors. The mosque also had a library that contains rare manuscripts and books on Islamic civilization, science, literature, and arts. The library is open to researchers and scholars who wish to access its valuable resources.
The mosque also has a jogging track that accommodated 32,125 people during H1 2023. The jogging track is open to the public every day from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm, except on Fridays when it is closed for prayers. The jogging track offers a unique opportunity to enjoy the scenic views of the mosque and its surroundings while exercising.
The mosque's stunning design features 82 domes, four minarets, a country-tard with a marble mosaic artwork, reflective pools, gold-plated Swarovski chandeliers, and the world's largest hand-knotted carpet. The mosque's facade is made of white marble that reflects the changing colors of the sun and the moon. At night,, the mosque is illuminated by a unique lighting system that mimics the phase of the moon. The lighting system uses fiber-optic technology that projects soft clouds of blue light on the domes and minarets. The lighting system also changes color according to the season: white during the winter solstice, green during the spring equinox, blue during the summer solstice, and yellow during the autumn equinox.
The mosque has been ranked first in the region and fourth in the “Top Attractions” subcategory of TripAdvisor’s “Travelers’ Choice Awards for 2022: the Best of the Best Destinations” list. It also came in ninth globally in the awards’ “Top Cultural & Historical Tours” subcategory category. These rankings reflect the high satisfaction and appreciation of the visitors who have rated the mosque as an excellent destination on TripAdvisor.
The mosque has also welcomed many high-level delegations from around the world, including heads of state, prime ministers, ministers, ambassadors, and consuls-general. In the first half of this year, there were 648 official delegation bookings, comprising 10,979 individuals. Among them were:
167 high-level delegations, including visits from:
- Ten heads of state, such as President Emmanuel Macron of France, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi of Egypt, President Kais Saied of Tunisia, President Miloš Zeman of Czech Republic, President Andrzej Duda of Poland, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal, President Borut Pahor of Slovenia, and President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi.
Three deputy heads of state, such as Vice President Kamala Harris of USA, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu of India, and Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh of Vietnam.
Two prime ministers, such as Prime Minister Boris Johnson of UK and Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan.
Six parliament heads, such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi of USA, Speaker Fawzia Zainal of Bahrain, Speaker Mohamed Ennaceur of Tunisia, Speaker Rached Ghannouchi of Tunisia, Speaker Mohamed Nasheed of Maldives, and Speaker Mohamed Al Halbousi of Iraq.
36 ministers, such as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid of Israel, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of Germany, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio of Italy, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian of France, Foreign Minister Dominic Raab of UK, Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar of India, Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu of Turkey, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry of Egypt, Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita of Morocco, Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani of Bahrain, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi of Israel, and others.
Four deputy ministers, such as Deputy Foreign Minister Wendy Sherman of USA, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov of Russia, Deputy Foreign Minister Emanuela Del Re of Italy, and Deputy Foreign Minister Khalifa Shaheen Al Marar of UAE.
19 ambassadors and consuls-general, such as ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of USA to the UN, Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba of UAE to USA, Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh of UAE to the UN, Ambassador Mohamed Al Khaja of UAE to Israel, Ambassador Eitan Na’eh of Israel to UAE, Ambassador James Cleverly of UK to the UN, Ambassador Barbara Woodward of UK to China, Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla of India to USA, Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu of India to USA, Ambassador Tsukasa Uemura of Japan to UAE, and others.
87 visits from various official foreign delegations, such as delegations from NATO, EU, OIC, GCC, AU, ASEAN, and others.
The mosque’s cultural tours play a key role in promoting its message of tolerance, inspired by the true teachings of the Islamic religion. Cultural tour specialists at the mosque conducted 2,637 cultural tours in H1 2023, attracting 37,402 visitors from around the world. The mosque also enhanced its cultural role by showcasing Islamic culture and introducing visitors to local cultural heritage, through a range of religious and cultural programmes presented in a unique and innovative manner.
These programmes attracted more than 1,365 visitors in H1 2023, including the Jusoor programme, which is a cultural exchange programme that invites students from various universities and schools to visit the mosque and learn about its history and values.
The mosque witnessed some remarkable numbers in terms of worshipers and visitors in H1 2023. On April 21, 2023, the mosque witnessed the highest number of worshipers recorded in a single day, a staggering total of 63,919 individuals performing prayers. With regards to Friday prayers stats, the highest number of worshipers was 12,176 individuals, recorded on June 30, 2023. In terms of visitors, April 22, the second day of Eid Al Fitr, witnessed the highest number of visitors, with 33,682 individuals. The lowest number of visitors on a single day was 5,410, recorded on June 21.
Regarding visitors’ countries of origin in H1 2023 :
India ranked first with 393,566 visitors
Russia ranked second with 130,023 visitors
China ranked third with 99,277 visitors
USA ranked fourth with 92,364 visitors
Germany ranked fifth with 76,857 visitors
Italy ranked sixth with 61,330 visitors
France ranked seventh with 53,996 visitors
Israel ranked eighth with 53,974 visitors
Pakistan ranked ninth with 47,640 visitors
UK ranked tenth with 45,790 visitors
The mosque’s message of peace and coexistence is inspired by the true teachings of Islam and the legacy of Sheikh Zayed. The mosque is open to everyone who wishes to learn more about the Emirati culture and the Islamic faith. The mosque’s open-door policy encourages visitors from around the world to not only witness its beauty but also gain a deeper understanding of its values. The mosque also fosters dialogue and mutual respect among different religions and cultures through its various initiatives and partnerships.