7 Things You Might Not Know About Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Oman

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is Oman’s largest and grandest mosque
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is Oman’s largest and grandest mosque | © Emad Aljumah / Getty Images
Learn more about Oman’s largest and grandest mosque, centrally located in the heart of Muscat with extensive manicured gardens, fountains and long, elegant walkways.

Muscat’s Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque was inaugurated by Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said himself on 4 May 2001, as a gift to the nation to celebrate his third decade in power. It’s certainly the grandest of the 50 mosques that the Sultan commissioned during his almost half-century reign, including Catholic and Protestant churches and Hindu temples.

His leadership and policies found favour with many people, as he spearheaded Oman towards becoming a modern state, while preserving age-old traditions and the Islamic way of life. His reputation for delivering on his promises saw him invest in a highly educated nation with no distinction between men and women and an interconnected network of paved roads and infrastructure, as well as improved healthcare facilities and the establishment of telecommunication networks.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the grandest of Oman’s mosques © Iain Masterton / Alamy

An architecture competition took place in 1993 to select the best design for the mosque. Once a winner was chosen, the mosque took six years and seven months to build. It features a combination of Islamic, Middle Eastern and Omani architectural styles and was built using 30,000 tonnes of pink sandstone imported from India, as well as local granite and white marble.

It’s Oman’s tallest structure

The mosque has a garden and five massive towers © iStock / Getty Images Plus

Unlike its neighbours, which often resort to grandstanding, Oman’s architectural style recalls its heritage by forgoing glass-encrusted skyscrapers in favour of low-rise, whitewashed buildings that celebrate the country’s history through elaborate latticework, intricate mosaics and ornate carvings of flowers and Allah’s name.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the country’s tallest structure, with an imposing 90-metre minaret. The mosque has four further minarets, and together the five towers symbolise the five pillars of Islam: profession of faith, prayers, giving of alms, fasting and pilgrimage.

It is the country’s largest mosque

This incredible mosque has room for 20,000 worshippers © Joana Kruse / Alamy

This mosque is Oman’s largest. It has the capacity for 20,000 worshippers, with 6,500 in the main musalla prayer hall, 750 in the women’s musalla and a further 8,000 in the outer paved grounds, plus additional space in the interior courtyard and along the passageways.

Once the world’s largest chandelier

The chandelier hangs above the mosque’s main prayer hall © Efired / Getty Images

The enormous Italian-manufactured chandelier was once the world’s largest, until the Reflective Flow chandelier in Qatar claimed the title. Regardless, it’s still exceptionally impressive. The 24-carat gold-plated chandelier is trimmed with 600,000 Swarovski crystals and houses 1,122 bulbs. It’s located at the centre of the men’s prayer hall and is surrounded by 34 smaller versions found across the mosque.

It has a 21-tonne hand-loomed prayer carpet

The carpet in the main prayer hall was once the world’s largest © Efired / Getty Images

Equally remarkable is the hand-loomed prayer carpet within the main musalla. It took 600 Iranian women four years to complete the 21-tonne carpet, which consists of 1.7 million knots and features 28 natural vegetable dyes. It was the world’s largest single-piece carpet until the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi snatched the title.

The library as a cultural landmark and centre of learning

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque library is a cultural landmark © Pascal Deloche / Getty Images

The double-storey Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque library is a cultural landmark that’s representative of Oman’s contemporary renaissance inspired by the late Sultan. More than 23,342 books on the topics of Islamic culture, natural science, fine arts, philosophy and psychology are found within its six sections, which also includes a children’s section. The collection of predominantly Arabic and English books grows larger each year.

What you need to know when visiting Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Non-Muslims are allowed to visit the mosque every day except Friday, from 8.30am until 11am. Visitors are asked to dress modestly and in a way that befits a place of worship. The café and gift shop at the entrance rent out abayas, full-length dresses that cover ankles, as well as scarves for women, who are also required to cover their hair and should not wear tight-fitting clothing. Children under the age of ten are not allowed inside the prayer halls, and the use of mobile phones should be avoided as a sign of respect.

Virtual tours of the mosque, either with or without a VR headset, can be taken at www.sultanqaboosgrandmosque.com.