Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman
“We used to have the world’s largest carpet, but then the Emiratis came when they were building the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, measured ours, and now they have the title. We also used to have the world’s largest chandelier, but then the Qataris came, measured ours, and stole that from us too.”
— Tour Guide at Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque may have to settle for second when it comes to carpets and chandeliers, but it certainly doesn’t make the place any less stunning.
Located along a stretch of the Sultan Qaboos Highway (a lot of stuff is named for His Majesty in this town), the mosque is Muscat’s premiere tourist attraction. It’s also the only mosque in Oman that allows non-Muslims to visit.
One of the main attractions here is the former Guinness world record holder of Largest Chandelier in the World – the 14 metre, 8 and 1/2 ton behemoth that dangles from the centre of the men’s prayer hall.
With more than 600,000 STRASS Swarovski crystals (it’s the finest crystal on the planet), over a thousand halogen bulbs, and 24 karat gold plating on the metal bits, the chandelier took 4 years to complete.
Sixteen smaller chandeliers throughout the men’s prayer hall complement the main attraction.
The carpet here is also an achievement in itself. It took 600 Iranian women 4 years to make, and is still the second largest hand-woven rug in the world. Those pesky Emiratis stole that crown too, so please do drop by and bid the ladies your condolences if you’re ever backpacking Iran.
There’s plenty more to see during a visit here too. The mosaics are nothing short of stunning.
And (Muslims excepted) when else are you going to get this close to an ablution room (that’s where worshippers clean up before prayer.)
The detail of the mosque is nothing short of stunning as well.
Each of the mosque’s minarets has an observation deck, so it’s also worth your while to take a walk up one of them for a better look of the grounds.
Each riwaq, or portico, along each side of the mosque houses intricate mosaic tile niches — a brilliant shock of colour in a sandstone sea.
Just be sure to stick to the rules during your visit and you’ll be fine.
There’s also an Islam Centre where you can relax after you visit with free Omani dates, tea, coffee, and water.
And a rare chance to speak with some Omani women about what it’s like to live in the Sultanate.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque Travel Tips:
- Get there early in the morning. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque opens at 8:00am, but the tour buses usually roll in just after 9:00am. If you make it there during that one-hour window the place is a virtual ghost town.
- Go to the Islam Centre. The Muslim ladies there will serve you free tea, coffee, and dates. The conversation inevitably leads to the Qu’uran and the benefits of Islam, but it’s not a hard sell. They are trying more to inform than convert. Remember you are a guest.
- Check out the library. There are over 20,000 books on display.
- Grab a guidebook. Get a security guard to show you where the upstairs office is. The Official Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque Guide Book is only 1 Omani Rial (about $2.50 USD), is available in German, French, English, Italian, Dutch and a host of other languages, and makes a great souvenir of your trip.
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque Opening Hours: For non-Muslims, 8:00am to 11:00am every day except Friday.
Admission Price: Free
Dress code: both men and women must be dressed conservatively: long trousers and covered shoulders for men, covered head, covered arms, and long pants or floor-length skirts for women.
Can’t make it to the mosque? Check out this virtual tour provided by the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque official website (click on the link if you’re unable to view in your browser.)