More than 454,00 worshippers and about 1,033,000 visitors were among the guests so far this year Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi received 1,520,697 guests, including 454,339 worshippers and about 1,033,045 visitors, during the first half of 2022.

Around 19 per cent of the visitors were from the UAE, and 81 per cent were tourists. To elaborate, 51 per cent of the visitors were male, 49 per were female, and the majority were aged between 25 to 35 years, constituting 32 per cent of the total worshippers and visitors who flocked to the mosque from across the world.

Visitors from India lead the top three countries visiting the mosque, followed by France and the USA.

During the year’s first half, the number of those using the mosque’s jogging trail reached more than 33,000 users.

Message of tolerance

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre (SZGMC) was able to convey the mosque’s cultural message of tolerance that emanates from the preaching of Islam through the complimentary cultural tours it provides to its visitors. The cultural tour specialists at the centre provided 2,075 tours in Arabic, English, Spanish, and Korean, and 21,633 visitors joined from all over the world.

‘Best of the Best’

The grand mosque was recently selected among TripAdvisor’s 2022 ‘Travelers’ Choice Award’ in the ‘Best of the Best’ category, which ranks the top 25 attractions worldwide. It meanwhile ranked first in the ‘Top Attractions - Middle East’ category, fourth in the ‘Top Attractions - World’ category for its unique artistic and architectural splendour, and ninth in the ‘Top Cultural and Historical Tours - World’ category.

‘Breathtaking design’

A visitor from the USA in his review said: “The mosque’s architectural design and aesthetics are breathtaking, and the flow of tourists is excellently managed, starting from visitors’ arrival to the parking lots, right up to they reach the mosque riding on the golf cart distributed across the route. They have allocated photo stops for visitors to stop and take pictures at the mosque to ensure smooth flow of visitors, and golf carts are available to take you back to the shopping centre ‘Souq Al Jami’ and the parking lots at the end of the tour.”

Another visitor from the UK said: “The Grand Mosque was amazing. We enjoyed our tour with one of the cultural tour specialists; it was one of the most remarkable experiences at the mosque. I have joined many tourist and cultural tours in various landmarks around the world, but the tour given to us by the tour specialist at the mosque was the best of all, and I was extremely impressed by the level of competence and passion she showed while providing the tour.”

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A Russian visitor said: “This grand mosque is a grand structure, embodying the values of tolerance and spiritualty. It allows you to experience the Islamic culture like you have never done before.”

Visitors to the mosque have a variety of unique experiences through the programmes, activities, and initiatives that centre around Islamic culture, its sciences, and the arts.

Tour day

SZGMC constantly strives to improve its facilities aiming to meet the visitors’ needs and allow them to spend an entire day at its premises and enjoy what it offers. A tour experience starts from the Visitors Centre which has exhibition halls, an auditorium, and a library, ending with Souq Al Jami, which includes an assortment of stores, entertainment areas, and restaurants that cater to their needs and allow them to spend a memorable time at the mosque.

Cultural awareness

Visitors can also visit the mosque’s jogging trail, which allows all members of the community of diverse groups and cultures to exercise, enjoy the services it provides, and experience the unique atmosphere surrounded by breathtaking scenery.

The cultural tours offered by Emirati cultural tour specialists at the centre in Arabic and English are among the most popular experiences at the mosque. Cultural tours in Arabic and English sign languages are also offered.

The centre is currently working on training its cultural tour specialist to provide tours in Chinese, Russian, Hebrew, Turkish, and French.