The new mosque in Rotterdam built by the Al Maktoum Foundation, is the biggest Islamic house of prayer in the Netherlands and in Western Europe. Image Credit: AFP

 Rotterdam A new landmark mosque, built by the Al Maktoum Foundation at the expense of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, was opened here on Friday in the presence of leaders of the Muslim community in Europe.

The opening of the Al Salam mosque was attended by Ahmad Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam; Ali Thani Al Suwaidi, UAE Ambassador to Netherlands; Mirza Al Sayegh, Director of Shaikh Hamdan's Office and member of the board of trustees of Al Maktoum Foundation, members of the Foundation's board of trustees and leaders of the Muslim community.

Dr Hussain Halawa, preacher of the Islamic Centre in Dublin, gave the first Friday sermon in the new mosque, urging Muslims to follow the moderate school of Islam and keep away from divergence.

The mosque, whose construction took a decade, is today the second most famous cultural landmark in Rotterdam after the City Hall Council. Construction for the mosque began in April 2000.

The 3, 200 square metre mosque in the Netherlands offers space for 2,200 worshippers. An entire level of the three-storey house of worship was dedicated for women.

The new mosque, built in a traditional style with 50-metre-high minarets, is the biggest Islamic house of prayer in the Netherlands and in Western Europe.

The mayor of Rotterdam paid tributes to Shaikh Hamdan for presenting this signature edifice to the city.

“We are proud of this civilisational landmark which all we worked together to accomplish it," he said.

Al Sayegh said the mosque has an enduring message towards the local community.

“The mosque will face tremendous challenges that require solidarity of the Muslim communities in order to build bridges of communications and trust with followers of other faiths," he added.

He hoped the mosque would deliver a balanced, moderate message based on tolerance and openness to the other and promotes the true essence of Islam.