9 facts and secrets that will make you want to visit the Grand Mosque of Muscat
When in Oman there is one attraction that stands out from the rest, which is known for its grand stature and mystified history. Naturally, the Grand Mosque is going to be one of the highlights of your visit to Muscat. Here are some interesting secrets and facts you should check out before visiting.
The full name of this magnificent structure is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which dominates the Muscat skyline. Royal is the keyword ringing in your ears when visiting the stunning beaches, malls, port and festivals of the bustling city, with Park Inn by Radisson, Muscat being perfectly located in the centre of it all. Find out what else to expect on your journey to the royal Mosque of Muscat.
1. World records
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Why settle for ordinary when you can have over the top? The mosque used to have the world’s largest carpet and chandelier, but Emiratis and Qataris came to measure the interior and made bigger versions in new mosques to steal the title. Regardless of titles and records, the Mosque is still pretty impressive. The chandelier is located in the centre of the men’s prayer hall and measures a staggering 14 metres and weighs 8,5 tonnes. It holds 600,000 shining bright Swarovski crystals, 24 carat gold plating and took more than four years to complete.
2. Welcome one, welcome all
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is one of the only mosques in Oman that allows non-Muslim visitors. However, be aware of the rules when entering and exploring the area. Children under ten are not permitted into in the prayer halls and there is no eating or sleeping in the prayer hall or use of cell phones. Luckily, most of these rules help to give you a peaceful and quiet experience in this fabulous building.
3. The collection
Head over to the huge mosque library. Although you may not be able to read any of the books, the library holds more than 20,000 books and is an impressive sight.
4. Numbers, numbers, numbers
The mosque was completed in 2001 and took six years to build. It covers a massive area of 416,000 square meters, and can hold up to 20,000 worshippers. The building itself is made up of 300,000 tonnes of sandstone. In other words, go big or go home in Muscat.
Men and women must dress conservatively in long trousers and covered shoulders. Women must also cover their hair.
6. The halls
The first section you see when entering the building is a private musalla, or female prayer hall. It has the capacity to hold 750 worshippers. The mosque also has a larger prayer halls for the men.
7. Take a break
Do not be surprised if you are approached by Omani women offering you dates and coffee. Take this opportunity to ask them about life and the culture. They will be more than happy to share their stories and insight.
8. Purification and rituals
The small room with a fountain-looking construction in the centre is the ablution room. This is where worshippers come to perform the cleansing or purification ritual before prayer. There are two forms of cleansing, the lesser form (wudu) and the greater form (ghusl). Different circumstances will determine which of the two is needed.
9. Colourful delights
The Mosque is embellished in beautiful, colourful mosaic patterns. There is no official number stating how many stones have been used, but it is sure an astounding sight. Take your time to walk the halls and study the handcrafted details of the mosque. It is truly a one-of-a-kind piece of art.
The mosque is open from 8:00 am to 11:00 am for non-Muslims every day except Friday. There are no tickets or fees for exploring the mosque. Get ready for an adventure you will remember. Although a picture speaks louder than words, they really do not do the mosque justice.