Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Our first day in Muscat, Oman, was a Friday, the weekly “holiday” for the country, as it is the “Sabbath” for the Islamic religion. Therefore, most buildings were closed. The Mosque is very busy on Fridays during prayer services. Our guide on Friday toured the greater city of Muscat for us, including a chance to walk around the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. The following day we were able to have a quiet tour of the Mosque, with very good explanations of the building and religious practices by our local guide. The Mosque is notable in that non-Muslims are allowed to visit the Mosque every day except Friday, including the prayer halls.
The Mosque was built as a gift from Qaboos bin Said bin Said, then the Sultan of Oman, as a gift to the country (that he personally paid for). The story is that he started with no budget, but a goal of building one of the most beautiful Mosques in the world – NOT the biggest, which today is in Dubai, U.A.E., whereas the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman, is the second largest in the world. There was an international competition for the design of the Mosque, which the Sultan wanted to reflect both Omani and Islamic architectural styles. Construction lasted from 1994 through 2000, with the Mosque being inaugurated on May 4, 2001, to celebrate 30 years of the reign of Qaboos bin Said bin Said. The mosque is built from 300,000 tons of Indian sandstone.