x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

City haven where small is beautiful

A relatively small building in Khalidiya, with one minaret and metallic and glass panelling, the mosque has a thoroughly modern design.

It is an exciting structure, says Abdulmalek Al Zaiti, who has been an imam at the mosque since it opened.
It is an exciting structure, says Abdulmalek Al Zaiti, who has been an imam at the mosque since it opened.

ABU DHABI // Kneeling silently alongside her mother, 17-year-old Haya Zeidan is praying at Fatima Belhoul Al Suwaidi Mosque for the second successive Ramadan.

Named after the late daughter of the architect who constructed it, the mosque is an important place, says the student, whose three brothers and father pray in the main hall below.

"No matter where you pray, you get the same feeling. But this is still a special place," she says.

Tucked behind a shopping mall, a supermarket and a smattering of high-rises, it is the most convenient mosque for the Jordanian teenager and her mother, and for many people living in downtown Abu Dhabi. "I have lived in Abu Dhabi for 12 years, and we have been going to this mosque since it opened in 2010," she says.

A relatively small building in Khalidiya, with one minaret and metallic and glass panelling, the mosque has a thoroughly modern design.

It is an exciting structure, says Abdulmalek Al Zaiti, who has been an imam at the mosque since it opened. "From a distance, it really gives the viewer a beautiful sight, and its architecture brings beauty to the mosque, its area and to the worshippers," the imam says.

Mr Al Zaiti, who lives with his wife and three children in the building, was selected by the Abu Dhabi Government from a group of Moroccan imams. He says the decision to accept this job was not a difficult one. "I didn't find this wonderful opportunity, it found me," Mr Al Zaiti says.

"Sheikh Khalifa and his Government were looking for imams in Morocco, and I was chosen from the select few."

Mr Al Zaidi is available at the mosque 24 hours a day. "I don't leave the mosque unless I need to run errands, usually after the evening prayer," he says.

What Mr Al Zaidi enjoys most about his role is "sharing the connection I make with Allah and his worshippers". There are about 300 worshippers that come daily to the mosque, and during Ramadan that number reaches more than 500. "Worshippers come from different segments of the community," Mr Al Zaiti says. "We have pharmacists, engineers, Egyptians, Syrians, people from various backgrounds. "Most people come to this mosque. In Ramadan, especially."

mismail@thenational.ae

zalhassani@thenational.ae