The Grand Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai is one of the most popular tourist spots in the United Arab Emirates because of its educationally, culturally and spiritually enlightening role. It is, in fact, the only mosque in all of the UAE nations that is open for visits from the non-Muslim public. These non-Muslim tours and visits are part of Dubai’s ‘Open doors, open minds’ program, operated by the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU).
The Open doors, Open minds program began more than a decade ago in 1998, under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The program, which aims to bridge people of different cultures and backgrounds together using the wise teachings of Islam, has enjoyed great success throughout the years. By opening the doors of the Mosque to the public, the SMCCU promotes a better understanding of cultures and invokes a healthy communication between the locals and foreign visitors.
Of the many cultural and social awareness programs and events spearheaded by the SMCCU, the tours and visits to Jumeirah and its Mosque are perhaps the most widely known as well as the most increasingly popular. The Mosque is not only significant in its role, but also in its architecture. Since 1975, it has been carefully maintained as both a holy place of worship and devotion as well as an educational site. It is also one of the most photographed locations in Dubai, especially when it is illuminated at night.
The infrastructure of the Mosque is grand and the architecture is reminiscent of the Fatimid style. The construction of the prayer hall is made in the form of hypostyle as there are many columns that hold up the roof. At the other side of the entrance, the qiblah wall is found. This wall is where the people pray facing the Ka’aba’s direction. The mihrab lies at the center of the qiblah, and it is where five prayers are led by the imam every day.
Tours and visits to the Mosque are scheduled regularly as visitors are encouraged to join in and take part in an enlightening experience. During this time, they can learn about facts and trivia which include the five pillars of Islam, how devotees pray, the purpose of religious clothing, and other interesting insights of the world of Islam. Many people find this ‘first-hand’ experience very moving. Visitors are encouraged to dress casually but modestly, because this is a sacred place.
Public viewing and tours of the Grand Jumeirah Mosque are done every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at around 10 in the morning. For those who would like to join these public guided tours and learn about the culture and religion of Dubai and the UAE, this is a great opportunity for you to do so. Participants are advised to arrive at least 15 minutes before the tour begins. There is a small fee of 10AED per participant, but that is nothing compared to the rich historical and spiritual value visitors will gain from this experience.