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I AM RECENTLY RETURNED from Abu Dhabi and already missing its people, sunshine, light, cooling breezes and its daytime temperatures of around 26°C.

While there I visited into alia the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque(above) - third largest in the world after Mecca and Madina, and the Louvre Abu Dhabii(more about this in my next post).

My visit to the Mosque was a breathing experience. Some basic facts: started in 1996 the Mosque took some 12 years to build employing 3,500 construction workers. It cost AED 2.5 billion - very roughly £5 billion(I think) based on the current rate of exchange.

Covering 5,700 sq metres the Mosque has the world’s largest hand knotted carpet valued at  AED 30 million - £6 million.

What truly took my breath away though was the sheer quantity of art, design and craft displayed on floors, ceilings, walls and in windows.

Art of the Islamic world forbids the depiction of human and animal forms. But the depiction of plants is ubiquitous and often uses arabesque shapes. Intricate geometric designs are also permissible as is calligraphy which has evolved into an art form in its own right.

Numerous examples of plants, geometry and exquisite flowing calligraphic shapes adorn the Mosque’s 82 domes, its 1098 columns and its 17,000 sq metres of courtyard not to mention its several pools.



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