Timings : Muslims can usually visit throughout the day. Non-Muslims can visit from 8 AM -11 AM from Saturday to Thursday. The mosque is closed to Non-Muslim visitors on Fridays.
Grand Mosque, Muscat Overview
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is Oman's biggest mosque with an area of 416,000 m2 and a capacity of over 20,000 worshippers; 8,000 can fit inside and the courtyard can easily hold up to 12,000. This mosque is one of the few mosques in Arabia which allows entry for non-Muslim visitors. The mosque is a wonder of modern architecture and is a fusion of Omani, Islamic, and Middle-Eastern architectural styles.
The mosque has four main sections: the men's prayer hall, a musalla (prayer hall) for ladies-with a capacity of 750 worshippers, a library, and a lecture theatre. The walls of the main prayer hall are made up of white and grey marble decorated with murals and geometric designs and have a central dome rising 50m above. Verses from the Holy Quran are inscribed in Thuluth script on a bar which connects the walls with the inner courtyard. There are Islamic geometric designs on the corridor archways, and the walls of the corridor have the names of Allah in Diwani script. The women's prayer hall is smaller and simpler than the rest of the mosque and usually sees activity on Fridays during the Jumu'ah prayer. The library holds more than 20,000 books on science, Islamic culture, and humanity and is a sight to behold. The lecture theatre holds events open to the public which usually aims to promote inter-faith dialogue. There is also an Islam Centre where you will be served free dates, coffee, tea, and other refreshments and you can interact with local Omani women. An ablution room with a fountain in the centre is also open to visitors at non-prayer times and is where worshippers perform purification rituals before prayer times.
The architecture is elegant, classy, yet rich in details and fuses the artistry and styles of various Islamic eras. The construction of the mosque started in 1995, and it took six years to build. It opened in 2001 and is considered a gift from the Sultan to his people. The mosque is a host to the world's second-biggest chandelier and the second largest handmade Persian carpet. The chandelier, which took 4 years to make, is the former Guinness World Record holder of the Biggest Chandelier in the world- a record which has since been given to Qatar- it's 14 m long and weighs 8.5 tons and is studded with over 600,000 Swarovski crystals, more than thousand halogen bulbs, and has 24K gold plating. It is hung over the centre of the men's prayer hall. It took 600 Iranian women four years to weave the Persian carpet which measures 70m by 60m and weighs 21 tons. It is a blend of classical Tabriz, Kashan, and Isfahan designs and covers the 4343m2 area of the main prayer hall.
Five minarets define the borders of the mosque and represent the 5 Pillars of Islam: Shahadah, Salah, Sawn, Zakat, and Hajj. The minarets are huge, one being 91.5m tall and the others being 45m tall. Each minaret has an observation deck which can be climbed to give a panoramic view of the city. The main dome is made with porcelain panels and marble columns and has arches. Colourful mosaic patterns provide an interesting juxtaposition to the white and grey marble walls and are a feast for your ocular senses. The roof is covered with hand-carved wood and timber panels, richly decorated with calligraphy and arabesques.
As it is a religious place, the mosque has certain dress regulations to be kept in mind. Visitors are required to dress modestly, cover the entire arms and legs, and not wear too tight clothing. Women and girls aged seven and above must cover their hair. If you haven't come prepared, the mosque café and gift shop give out Abayas and scarves on rent for OR 2.500.
Avoid coming at prayer times or during noon on Fridays as it will be crowded. Officially, photography and videography are prohibited outside of visiting hours. If you come when there isn't a visiting time then you're not allowed to enter the main prayer rooms. You'll have to walk barefoot inside the mosque so keep your footwear in the shelves set up near the doors and entrances. Remember where you've left them! You can't eat or drink inside the mosque compound. Read up on the rules and regulations beforehand. It's better to visit along with a guide to get the full mosque experience. Try to abide by these rules to avoid any unpleasant incidents.
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Best Time To Visit Grand Mosque
If you're travelling alone, try to come early to soak up the calm and tranquillity of the place as tourist buses and coaches usually arrive after 9 AM and the mosque will tend to get crowded.