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Thousands gather at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque to mark Eid

ABU DHABI // As the Sun slowly crept into the sky, thousands gathered at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on Thursday morning to mark Eid Al Adha.

Among those, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, who offered prayers.

Afterward, Sheikh Mohammed and members of the royal family visited the tomb of his father, the founding President, Sheikh Zayed.

People travelled from far and wide to attend the prayers, which began at about 6.35am.

“Praying in congregation with a huge number of people from different nationalities gives me a sense of feeling of praying at home. It’s a melting pot of cultures, people from various countries of the world praying under one roof,” said Abdul Wahab Abdul Khaliq, who came from Eritrea for the occasion.

The mosque is the epitome of modern and Islamic architecture, Mr Khaliq said.

“This is the first time I have prayed at the Grand Mosque and it looks magnificent. The beauty, design, decoration, art works have been perfectly done here.

“The thing I loved most is the culture and good care and treatment of people. The cleanliness, beauty and security arrangements really attracted me lot,” said the visitor, who vowed one day to bring his family.

Roads to the mosque, a building which can accommodate 40,000 worshippers, were jammed, and Abu Dhabi Police officers worked to ease the flow of vehicles.

Once prayers had ended, children in colourful outfits rushed from one side of the mosque to the other in a playful manner as their parents took photos. Other worshippers shook hands and hugged as Eid greetings were shared, while some rushed off to the city’s abattoirs to check on their orders.

Mustapha Oumaou, from Morocco, attends Eid prayers every year at the mosque.

“This is one of my favourite places to worship, and every year I come here. The multiculturalism of the place impresses me. You can find people from different nationalities and cultures here and people are very friendly.

“I find this place most organised. It gives me a complete sense of tranquility and peace.”

With a number of high-profile delegates at morning prayers, organisation was essential. Worshippers made their way through security checkpoints and scanners.

Knowing their safety was being taken care of allowed worshippers, including Egyptian Mahmoud Qasim, time to appreciate the beauty of the mosque.

“Before I was living in Abu Dhabi, but now I have moved to Dubai. Still, I come to pray here.

“Its beauty and grandness brings me here every year,” said Mr Qasim, who was with his family.

Taking in the sights after completing the prayer, Eritrean Osman Idrees said: “I love capturing the beauty of the mosque and it’s good that we can freely roam around and take pictures.”

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(via The National)