Facts about Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque Muscat Oman
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Muscat, is the grandest and largest mosque in the Sultanate of Oman, and is often considered one of the most beautiful in the world.
Featuring beautiful mosaics and detailed carvings throughout, it’s a truly majestic piece of modern Islamic architecture, and will be the highlight of your trip.
Due to its location that’s very close to the airport (about 15 minutes’ drive), visiting this royal mosque is something you must not miss, even if you’re on a short layover in Muscat.
Here are some interesting facts about Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque that you should know before visiting:
1. It was a Gift from the Sultan to the People
The Grand Mosque of Muscat was inaugurated on 4th May 2001 by Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said himself, as a gift to the people in celebration of his third decade in power.
The well-liked Sultan — who had paved the way for Oman to become a modern state — was the longest-serving leader in the Middle East and Arab world at the time of his death.
The Grand Mosque is the grandest of the 50 mosques that His Majesty had commissioned during his half-century reign.
2. It Took 6 Years to Build
After having an architecture competition in 1993 to find the best design, this grand iconic structure took six years and seven months to build, using a total of 300,000 tonnes of pink sandstone imported from India, as well as local granite and white marble.
Blending Islamic, Middle Eastern, and Omani architectural styles, it features a square-shaped main prayer hall, a 50-metre-high central dome, and 5 minarets representing the 5 pillars of Islam.
3. It’s the Biggest Mosque in Oman
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque covers a massive area of 416,000 square metres (102 acres), making it Oman’s largest.
It has the capacity for 20,000 worshipers at a time — 6,500 in the main prayer hall, 750 in the women’s prayer hall, 8,000 in the outside paved area in the gardens, and the rest in the interior courtyard and corridors.
4. It’s Also the Tallest Building in Oman
Unlike its neighbors Qatar and Saudi Arabia with their skyscrapers, and the UAE with the tallest building in the world, Oman’s architectural style still preserves its heritage, by forgoing ostentatious glitz in favor of traditional low-rise white-washed buildings.
As a God-fearing nation, Oman chooses to let the Grand Mosque take the spotlight and remain the tallest structure in the country.
The main minaret of the mosque stands at an imposing height of 91.5 metres, while the four others reach up to 45 metres. These five minarets symbolize the five pillars of Islam: profession of faith, prayers, giving of alms, fasting, and pilgrimage.
5. It Had the World’s Largest Chandelier
When it was first opened, the mosque boasted the world’s largest chandelier.
Located in the center of the men’s prayer hall, the Italian-manufactured chandelier measures 14 metres tall and weighs 8,500 kilograms. Its 24-carat gold-plated frame is trimmed with 600,000 Swarovski crystals and holds 1,122 bulbs.
It took more than four years to complete, and was the biggest chandelier in the world until the Reflective Flow chandelier in Qatar snatched the title in 2010.
6. It Had the World’s Largest Carpet
Not only did the Grand Mosque of Muscat have the largest chandelier in the world, it also had the world’s largest single-piece carpet.
The hand-loomed Persian carpet covering the main prayer hall floor contains 1,700 million knots, measures 60 x 70 metres, weighs 21 tonnes, and took 600 Iranian weavers 4 years to make.
As many as 28 different colors made from natural dyes are used in the weaves, bringing together the classical Persian, Isfahan, and Kashan design traditions.
It was the world’s largest single-piece handwoven carpet until the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi claimed the title.
7. It’s Covered in Mosaics and Carvings
The Grand Mosque is almost entirely covered in intricate mosaic patterns and colorful geometrical and floral patterns, all of which were painstakingly crafted by hand.
Inscribed on the doors and arches are detailed carvings of Quranic verses that are 2 centimetres deep, to ensure that they stay as long as the mosque remains standing.
8. It’s a Center of Learning
Apart from prayer halls, the mosque also features a lecture hall and a double-story library, highlighting its role as a source of knowledge across the Islamic world.
The lecture hall, which has a capacity of 300 people, regularly hosts events that are open to the public. Many are conducted in English by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars to promote inter-faith dialogues.
The library, on the other hand, houses more than 20,000 reference books on topics of Islamic culture, sciences, fine arts, philosophy, and psychology. Most of the collection is in Arabic, but there’s a selection of English books as well.
9. It’s the Only Mosque in Oman that Allows Non-Muslims
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is one of the only mosques in Oman that welcomes non-Muslim visitors, so long as they obey the rules when entering and exploring the area.
10. It was Voted One of the World’s Most Beautiful
In 2015, Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque was featured in UK’s leading newspaper “The Telegraph” as one of the 25 most beautiful mosques in the world.
How to Get to Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
From the Airport
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is only 12.5 kilometres away from Muscat International Airport and would take approximately 15 minutes in usual traffic.
The most convenient way to visit is using your own transport. Other than that, you can get a taxi from the airport or anywhere in the city.
Several bus lines (A1, 1, 8 & 12) also have routes that pass near the mosque. The nearest station to Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is Al Maha bus stop, which is 13 minutes’ walk away.
Check the bus routes, timetables, and fares here.
Alternatively, you can join guided city tours such as the ones offered by Get Your Guide:
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque Opening Hours
The official opening hours of Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque are from 4 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. but non-Muslims are only allowed to visit the mosque from 8:00 a.m. to 11 a.m. every day except Friday.
Outside of the visiting hours, it’s still possible to visit and take photographs of the exterior of the building, but you won’t be allowed inside the prayer halls. I went some time around 3 p.m. and wasn’t allowed to get a peek into the main prayer hall even though my (male) host and I are both Muslims.
In any case, try to avoid coming on Fridays or at prayer times (you can find the exact timings on Google) if you don’t want to get stuck in traffic. Plus, it’s best to show respect and give the devotees some space to do their daily prayers.
What to Wear to Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
All visitors are strictly required to adhere to a dress code when visiting the Grand Mosque of Muscat.
For men, no shorts or sleeveless tops.
For women, acceptable attires include full-length dresses, long-sleeved blouses with long skirts or loose pants that cover your ankles. You must also wear a scarf to cover your hair.
In short, everything has to be covered except your face and hands. Clothes must not be tight-fitting. If you don’t have anything suitable, the cafe and gift shop at the entrance of the mosque rent out traditional abayas and headscarves.
Everyone must remove their shoes when entering the prayer halls. Shoe racks are available at the entrance.
Additional Tips & Info
- Entrance is free of charge.
- Children under the age of 10 are not allowed inside the prayer halls.
- Usage of mobile phones should be avoided as a sign of respect.
- Eating, drinking, or sleeping inside the mosque is not permitted.
- The limited visiting hours mean that it can get very busy, especially around 10 a.m. when most tour groups arrive. The earlier you visit, the better.
- Virtual tours of the mosque, either with or without a VR headset, is available on their website.
What’s the most beautiful mosque you’ve ever visited? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.