In 1992, Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said issued a royal decree for the construction of a grand mosque. A competition was announced to identify the most creative, unique design for the mosque. By 1994 a winner was selected and construction on the mammoth project began. It was completed in 2001 and inaugurated by Sultan Qaboos as part of the celebrations of his 30 year reign. The result was the largest structure in the country and one of the world’s most admired mosques.
Built on a site of 46,000 square metres and using over 300,000 tonnes of Indian sandstone, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque boasts a large prayer hall of 74.4 by 74.4 metres with a 50 metre central dome above the floor. The five minarets represent the five pillars of Islam with the main minaret rising to 90 metres and the four smaller ones to 45.5 metres. The main prayer room has a capacity of over 6,500 and the women’s prayer area can accommodate 750. The outer paved ground provides additional space for 8,000 worshipers and further space is available for prayer in both the interior courtyard and passages bringing the total capacity to around 20,000.
The magnificent architecture of the mosque is a tasteful blend of Islamic, Middle Eastern and Omani designs. The interiors are dramatic, imposing and absolutely breath-taking. Adorning the main prayer room is the world’s largest chandelier. Measuring 14 metres and weighing 8,500 kg, the chandelier features 600 Swarovski crystals in 24 carat gold plating. Also in the prayer room is the world’s largest carpet which covers 4,343 square metres of the hall, weighs 21,000 kg and is in the classical Persian design.
The Grand Mosque is skilfully decorated with beautiful, colourful mosaic patterns while the interiors of the mosque features detailed timbered panels which reflect traditional Omani ceilings.
The Grand Mosque is surrounded by lush gardens. The gardens host a variety of flowers with each scent adding the magic of the walkways which enclose the Grand Mosque.
The mosque is the only one in Oman open to non-Muslims, however visitors are required to dress modestly with women and girls above the age of seven covering their arms, legs and hair in keeping with Islamic values. The mosque café and gift shop have abayas and scarves available for rent if the need arises. To further respect worshipers, mobile phones have to be switched off and eating is not permitted indoors.
A visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is a must for anyone visiting Oman, its magnificence and opulent gardens are perfect outing for family and friends.