The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has been named among the world's most talked-about attractions.
The mosque, which welcomed 4.685 million visitors and worshippers in 2012, joined a line-up of 16 global attractions top-rated by users of the popular travel website TripAdvisor. Others included Sydney Harbour, the Colosseum in Rome, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Table Mountain in Cape Town and Central Park in New York.
“To be included in a list of some of the world’s most renowned attractions, and to be voted there by our visitors, is a significant recognition of both the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque’s beauty, the work of everyone involved in promoting it, and the appreciation of the culture of Abu Dhabi,” said Yousif Al Obaidli, director of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre.
Rated number one among Things To Do in Abu Dhabi, the mosque is one of the world’s most impressive modern Islamic architectural masterpieces.
It is fitted with seven chandeliers that have more than a million Swarovski crystals. Its floor is adorned with one of the world’s largest prayer carpets, hand-knitted by 1,200 weavers in Mashhad, Iran.
The mosque has 1,000 columns in its outer areas that are clad with more than 20,000 marble panels inlaid with semi-precious stones, including lapis lazuli, red agate and amethyst, along with abalone shell and mother of pearl.
It is ranked Abu Dhabi's leading attraction by TripAdvisor.com users, with more than 1,400 rave reviews.
One visitor said it was "a vision that would last a lifetime", and another said that "in 30 years of travel, it was the most beautiful building" he had seen.
Another website user said: "This place of worship is the most beautiful building I have ever had the pleasure to visit. The setting and the architecture is just stunning, and the most amazing place to visit and learn about the UAE from knowledgeable guides."