Reem Island's Al Aziz Mosque stands out among the many places for worship in the capital, especially at night.
As well as having a contemporary design, it also has Arabic inscriptions of the 99 Names of Allah, that are carved into concrete bricks and forming the mosque's outside walls.
The "calligraphic walls” appear as simple stone carvings by day.
At night, however, the inscriptions shine brightly when they become illuminated using "light transmitting concrete”, which uses optical fibres that transmit light through the stone — a technology developed by German firm, Lucem.
"A mosque is a message in itself that should take you away from the materialistic everyday world and bring you closer to the metaphysical aspect of life and to God,” said Yasser Fouad, designer of the mosque and architect with APG, a UAE-based architecture and engineering firm.
"The wall is alive and part of the message, it feels like it's reciting the names of God along with the visitor himself, a living breathing part of the whole experience of worshipping God in prayer.”
The mosque's dome and minaret also feature in its new-age design, using square and triangular shapes in place of the round surfaces and spheres found in many of the other mosques in the region.
The mosque held its official opening just before Ramadan started, with prayers attended by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development.
Mr Fouad said the mosque was designed to blend in with its immediate surroundings on Reem Island, taking into account factors such as colour and shape.
"The mosque intends to connect with the land in its smoothly flowing levels, emulating a sculptural form emerging out of the earth,” he said. "Together with the warm earth, the unified tone used for all materials from building to pavement curbs, this makes the building look like it has been carved out of the earth.”
The mosque was built at a cost of Dh65 million, under the patronage of businessman Hasan Abdullah Ismaik, and is divided into three main areas over three stories, including large and small prayer rooms for men as well as an area strictly for females.
It can accommodate 2,500 worshippers and has 127 parking spaces.
Reem Island resident Mohammed Shamsi said he has been visiting the mosque on Fridays for prayer since its opening.
"It's not the standard design you usually see, It's different, it's breathtaking,” he said. "There is no standardisation as to what a mosque should look like, it's a place of worship. There was a certain type of architecture back in the old days, and this one is obviously different.”
"It's beautiful, that is all I can say.”
Incorporated into the mosque's design are a number of sustainability features, including a system for recycling waste water, energy efficient light bulbs and the use of natural light, and a tailored waste management system.
Reem Island, one of the most rapidly developing areas of Abu Dhabi, is expected to eventually be home for over 210,000 residents and nine mosques, according to a master plan for the 8.5 million square metre island that was released in mid-June.
Jitu Miah Atar, a taxi driver from Bangladesh, who has prayed at the mosque, said he liked the new design, but come prayer time, it doesn't deviate from its main role as a place of worship.
"Whether the building is different, or the colour is different, it's still a mosque.”
Source: The National