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The Sultan Qaboos Mosque was a gift from Sultan Qaboos to the inhabitants of Oman. In honour of his 30-year reign in the early 1990s, the sultan commissioned the building of a mosque larger than any other mosque in Oman. Since 2001, the sparkling result can be seen along the road that leads to the heart of Muscat; in daytime it shines in the bright sun, at night it is beautifully illuminated.
In 1993, Sultan Qaboos announced a competition for the design of the mosque. Architect Mohammed Saleh Makiya’s ingenious design was the big winner and construction of the Sultan Qaboos Mosque began in 1995. It took 6 years and the giant mosque, the largest in Oman, was inaugurated in 2001.
The Sultan Qaboos Mosque boasts many superlatives. It took around 300,000 tons of Indian sandstone to build and the large prayer hall is truly spectacular. The Persian rug on the floor measures an impressive 70 by 60 metres, making it the second largest hand-woven rug in the world. Up to 600 women worked for 4 years to make the 1.7 million knots. The carpet has mainly been coloured with traditional vegetable dyes and the same pattern can be found in the beautiful marble and mosaic ceiling. An enormous chandelier of Swarovski crystals is suspended from the large dome in the prayer hall. The 14-metre-high colossus consists of 1,122 lights that cast a magical light on the dome at night.
The mosque is just as impressive from the outside. The design is a mix of modern architecture and traditional Islamic style elements. The complex is set on a raised platform; according to Omani tradition, mosques are always built just slightly above street level. There is a minaret on each corner with a 5th minaret in the middle of the complex: together these symbolize the 5 core values of Islam.
The Sultan Qaboos Mosque is the only mosque in Oman that is open to non-Muslims. You may visit the mosque every morning, except on Fridays. Of course one has to dress appropriately: women must cover their heads as well as their knees and shoulders. Children under the age of 10 are not allowed in the large prayer hall.