The sound of a child reciting passages from the Holy Quran lilts across the marble courtyard of the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Drawing closer, one can see a group of young schoolboys engrossed in their recitation lessons in one of the mosque's majestic prayer halls. It is officially their summer holiday, but the boys are clearly enjoying the class.
"I am learning something new and have also made some very good friends. We recite the Holy Quran and we try to be better than each other all the time," Ahmad Al Qubaisi, a 12-year-old Emirati, told Gulf News. "I also really enjoy the chance we get to lead my friends in the recitation," Ahmad added.
Ahmad's class is part of a series of lessons in the capital that are being organised by the Grand Mosque Centre this July.
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Aimed at children aged between seven and 18, the free lessons, which also include lunch and transportation, have attracted more than 400 children from across the emirate in their second year.
Organised separately for boys and girls, the thrice-weekly lessons, also include storytelling sessions for younger children. The classes are led by trained instructors and geared towards turning the mosque into a place of cultural learning and.
"Through these activities at the centre, we hope to contribute towards the development of religious, ethical, scientific and cultural knowledge amongst younger generations… and pass on the teachings and values of their forefathers," said Talal Al Mazroui, the centre's director of events and activities.
"The classes are also designed to create an educational atmosphere for children during their summer vacations," he added. Apart from the classes, the Grand Mosque gets an average of 4,000 visitors during the summer months.