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For a long time I have wanted to take this shot at the Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi. The mosque is typically referred to as the Grand Mosque. I have been to the UAE many times and have been to the Grand Mosque several times, but always with other people. Photography (of this sort) and groups don’t really mix. Earlier this year I was back in the UAE and managed to sneak away on the night I was leaving to take this image. Planes tend to leave at strange hours from Dubai, which meant I had the whole evening to do this.

Sheik Zayed’s full name or title is Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He was the architect of the UAE. His father was the ruler of Abu Dhabi until he was assassinated in 1926. Together with one of his brothers, he led the people of the region, firstly in opposition to Saudi (who wanted to influence, if not control the region) and then in forming a federation of trucial rulers, that ultimately formed the State known as the UAE. Oil was discovered in 1958. (The Trucial States were those on the coastal region of the southeastern Persian Gulf).

The architect of the Grand Mosque is a Syrian called Yousef Abdelky. It is the biggest and most important mosque in the UAE. More than 3000 workers and 38 contractors were employed in the building of the mosque. The principal contractor was an Italian company.

The mosque is beautiful in a simple way. The extensive use of white (lot’s of marble) makes for an elegant appearance, somewhat reminiscent of the Taj Mahal in India.

This photo was a challenge because there were constant crowds and the variation of light made post-processing difficult. In particular, I was most irritated with a group of Chinese visitors who insisted in standing in the same position for about 25 minutes. How inconsiderate! 🙂

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Piers van der Merwe

Born in Zimbabwe, educated in Cape Town (UCT), now living in Knoxville, USA. I travel a lot for work, to a wide variety of venues that affords me the opportunity for taking interesting and varied photos. Hobbies, other than photography, include cycling and reading.

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