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Architecture in Dubai

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United Arab Emirates
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Burj Khalifa
Discover the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building, a global icon and a feat of engineering. Truly a marvel of not just engineering but also imagination and design, the 828m Burj Khalifa has drawn visitors from all over the world since its opening in 2010. This magnificent building is the conceptual heart and soul of the city of Dubai – inspiring the viewer to imagine new possibilities. Inspired by an abstraction of the Hymenocallis flower, the towering structure is essentially three sections arranged around a central core. Viewed from above, it is consistent with the onion-dome design frequently found across a variety of Islamic architecture, albeit on a much smaller scale. The Burj Khalifa boasts not one but two observations decks – the two-storey At the Top on the 124th and 125th floors, as well as the world’s highest observation deck (555m) on the 148th floor.
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Burj Al Arab
One of Dubai’s most famous tourist landmarks, the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah often stands among the top five – if not the absolute peak – of the world’s most iconic hotels. Since its opening in late 1999, the hotel with its distinctive sail-shaped silhouette, has thrust Dubai onto the global luxury tourism landscape. Built on a triangular man-made island reclaimed from the sea, the hotel and its billowing sail-like structure rise 321 metres above the sea, offering panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf. Managed by Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts, Burj Al Arab takes accepted standards of luxury to a new level. Guests have access to service on par with royalty and fine dining alike. Gold interiors, lush suites, the finest delicacies – Burj Al Arab’s long list of superlatives cannot be matched.
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Al Noor Mosque
Inaugurated in 2005, Al Noor Mosque was built at orders from Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, spouse of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
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Sharjah Islamic Museum
Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization features seven galleries spread over two levels. The ground-floor galleries cover aspects of the Islamic faith and the achievements of Arab scientists and astronomers. The upper floors offer a chronological overview of Islamic arts and crafts, including textiles and jewellery. Housed in building every bit as impressive as its collection, the museum is located on the Corniche, just north of the Heart of Sharjah district. Astrolabes, manuscripts, ceramics and coins all vie for your attention but don’t miss the gold-embroidered curtain for the door of the Holy Ka’ba and the mosaic inside the central dome detailing the zodiac constellations.
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Sharjah Archeological Museum
With a treasure trove of pottery, jewellery and weaponry on display, this Sharjah museum uncovers the daily life of ancient inhabitants in the region, far before modern UAE culture. The most significant discoveries in the country are featured in this museum, including a 2,000-year-old golden bridle from Mleiha, findings from a Stone Age graveyard with the skeletons of 500 nomadic herders and a vast collection of Arabic art. For history buffs, this is one of the most important tourist places in Sharjah. For things to do with kids, head to the children’s area which features interactive displays, informative exhibits and films. Call ahead of time to plan your trip during the museum’s summer activities for kids. To get to the museum, take a Sharjah bus with a stop on the Sharjah bus route close by. Or, reach there quicker with a Sharjah taxi.
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Cultural Square
The Cultural Square features a 14-metre high pedestal with a sculpture of the Holy Quran. It is the centrepiece of the roundabout in the square, representing the spiritual heart of the city. The sculpture, which was designed by Spanish sculptor Marinas Rubias, is encircled by a number of stately buildings in typical Islamic architecture. These Sharjah buildings are of prominence in UAE history, particularly the Ruler’s Office and the Ahmad Bin Hanbal Mosque. Also in the square is the Cultural Palace, a place for concerts and events. When you’re in Sharjah next, make sure to drive by the cultural square. It is a key highlight of the many tourist places in Sharjah. Since the sculpture is at a roundabout, you can easily drive by it more than once. If you’re thinking of things to do with kids here, they will enjoy going around a few times in your car. Cultural Square is one of the popular places to visit in Sharjah with children, especially to learn about Islamic art.
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Sharjah Islamic Culture Capital Monument 2014
The Sharjah Islamic Culture Capital memorial rises 42 meters and the podium occupies an area of 650 square meters, while the total area of the base that carries the highest column monument is 50 square meters.
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Sharjah Mosque
More than five years in the making, the largest mosque in Sharjah opened its doors in 2019. The Dh300 million building occupies 185,806 square metres with a capacity to accommodate over 25,000 worshippers. 5000 worshippers, with allocated seating for 610 women, can be accommodated inside. An abiding symbol of faith, the structure is well worth visiting for the chance to view its grandeur; surrounded by gardens and water fountains, the domes, minarets and columns have been designed to reflect a unique Islamic architectural style. The main prayer hall has arched windows with stained glass, walls decorated with verses from the Quran, a large chandelier in the centre and red carpeting. A gift shop, cafeteria and open areas, as well as spaces for non-Muslims, are all part of the design. Home to a large library rich in Islamic works, the mosque is also equipped to welcome non-Muslim visitors and lovers of knowledge from around the world. The collection hall is a unique treasury of books and antiques from different Islamic eras.
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Louvre Abu Dhabi
The iconic Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first universal museum in the Arab World that translates the spirit of openness of cultures. As one of the premier cultural institutions located in the heart of the Saadiyat Cultural District, the art-lovers dream displays the works of historical, cultural and sociological significance from ancient times to the contemporary era. Designed by Pritzker-prize winning architect Jean Nouvel, the Louvre Abu Dhabi encompasses 9,200 sq. m of galleries including the Permanent Gallery and a Temporary Gallery that is enriched by loans from many notable French museums including Musee du Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, and Centre Pompidou. Recreating parts of UAE’s integral cultural elements, Nouvel designed a falaj-inspired water system running through the museum, inspired by ancient Arabian engineering whilst the orderly lace dome borrows inspiration from the interlaced palm leaves traditionally used as roofing material in many parts of the country that results in an enchanting play of light. The juxtaposition of different civilizations in the same spaces, the Louvre Abu Dhabi illustrates similarities and exchanges from the shared human experience going beyond geography, nationality, and history.
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Qasr Al Muwaiji
Qasr Al Muwaiji was home to generations of the Al Nahyan family and saw the birth of Sheikh Khalifa in 1948. The UNESCO World Heritage Site functioned not only as a home and an oasis in the desert but also as a place of rule and a focus for the community. The architectural gem now offers its visitors a variety of historical and traditional experiences associated with the venue, including oral narrations of the significant moments of Sheikh Khalifa’s life from his early childhood, leadership and vast national achievements.
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Al Jahili Fort
Since opening its gates in 2008, Al Jahili Fort has been a cultural the focal point of activities associated with philosophy and heritage of Abu Dhabi in the Garden City. Al Jahili is one of the largest forts in the UAE and was built in the 1890s on orders from Zayed The First as the home to members of the Al Nahyan ruling family. Between 2007 and 2008, the fort was restored by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, who transformed it into a cultural centre and tourist attraction that now houses a permanent exhibition devoted to Wilfred Thesiger, the intrepid explorer, travel writer and photographer, who crossed the Empty Quarter twice in the 1940s, and a temporary exhibition gallery. Surrounded by a lush park, this enchanting fort won the prestigious Terra Award for the best Earthen Architecture in the world in 2016.
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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque stands out as one of the world’s largest mosques, and the only one that captures unique interactions between Islam and world cultures. Sheikh Zayed's vision for the Grand Mosque was to incorporate architectural styles from different Muslim civilizations and celebrate cultural diversity by creating a haven that is truly diverse and inspirational in its foundation. The mosque’s architects were British, Italian and Emirati, and design inspiration was borrowed parts of Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, and Egypt among other Islamic countries, revealing a glistening architectural marvel with an astonishing capacity of 40,000 worshippers and visitors. The open-door policy invites tourists and celebrants from all around the world who can witness the spectacular onion-top domes, the reflective pools that engulf the courtyard and the iconic prayer hall, which not only overflows with blissful sunlight but also houses the world’s biggest chandelier and carpet, both meticulously handmade. Be sure to spot the calligraphy encircling the hollows of the domes, etched with verses from the Quran and painted with gold leaves in An-Naskh lettering.
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Capital Gate
Drive down Khaleej Al Arabi Street and you will see a modern-day challenger to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Capital Gate, developed by Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, has been certified as the ‘World’s Furthest Leaning Man Made Tower,’ by the Guinness World Records. It leans 18 degrees westwards - more than four times that of Pisa’s famous Leaning Tower. The 160 metre (524.9 ft), 35 storey tower is a postcard image of Abu Dhabi and makes a great holiday snap.
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Qasr Al Hosn
Qasr Al Hosn is the oldest and most significant building in Abu Dhabi, holding the city’s first permanent structure; the watchtower. Built around the 1790’s, the commanding structure overlooked the coastal trade routes and protected the growing settlement established on the island. Qasr Al Hosn comprises of two major iconic buildings: the Inner Fort (originally constructed in 1795) and the Outer Palace (1939-45). Over the centuries, it has been home to the ruling family, the seat of government, a consultative council and a national archive; it now stands as the nation’s living memorial and the narrator of Abu Dhabi’s history. Transformed into a museum in 2018 following more than eleven years of intensive conservation and restoration work, Qasr Al Hosn is a national monument that encapsulates the development of Abu Dhabi from a settlement reliant on fishing and pearling in the 18th century, to a modern, global metropolis, with displays of artefacts and archival materials dating back to as far as 6000 BC.
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Etihad Towers
A dramatic architectural statement, this five-tower complex invites residents and visitors to live, work, stay, shop and dine in one destination with panoramic city and Arabian Gulf views. A benchmark for luxury experiences, the complex includes three residential towers and the 280 metres high, five-star Jumeirah at Etihad Towers hotel. On Tower 2’s 74th floor, the Observation Deck at 300 offers unbeatable cityscape and island views. The Avenue at Etihad Towers is one of the world’s most expensive and exclusive collections of boutique shops, with many having luxurious private rooms for private, VIP shopping.
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Qasr Al Watan
Qasr Al Watan, the new cultural landmark in Abu Dhabi, opens its doors to the public in an invitation to discover the legacy of knowledge and tradition that have shaped the journey of the nation, boosting cultural understanding of the United Arab Emirates. More than a traditional palace, Qasr Al Watan is an exquisitely crafted tribute to the Arabian heritage and artistry, and its architecture and design echo the significance of the exhibits housed within its halls and the function of its most iconic rooms. Qasr Al Watan invites visitors to learn about the country’s governing traditions and values, and explore a well-preserved legacy of knowledge, thus boosting cultural understanding of the UAE.
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Al Zubarah
Located on Qatar’s north-west coast and comprising the immaculately restored Al Zubarah Fort and surrounding 60-hectare archaeological works, this UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most extensive and best preserved examples of an 18th–19th century settlement in the region.
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Tomb of Saadi
Tomb of Saadi: The Tomb of Saadi is also called Saadieh. The first mausoleum was built in 13th century, however, it faced destruction in 17th century. The building that tourists visit today is the heritage of 1950s. The present building, which its architect was Mohsen Foroughi, was inspired by Chehel Sotun of Esfahan. Moreover, a Sassanid-year-old garden, the gorgeous Delgosha Garden is near the Tomb. The Tomb of Saadi was a Khangah* where Saadi lived the final days of his life there. And so he was buried there. Inside the mausoleum, the verses of Saadi poems are inscribed all around the walls.
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Bagh-e Narenjestan
Bagh-e Narenjestan (or Qavam House) is a historical house in the city of Shiraz. Construction of the house dates back to late 19th century (Late Qajar era), belonging to the famous wealth family of Qavam in Shiraz. Qavam House is one of Shiraz tourist attractions for its beautiful garden of sour oranges and exquisite architecture. While walking in the alleys of Shiraz, the smell of bitter orange intoxicates you. Now imagine wandering in the garden of bitter orange: Bagh-e Narenjestan! Bagh-e Narenjestan Shiraz or Narenjestan Garden Shiraz is famous for its bitter oranges and also the great mansions inside it. Narenjestan Shiraz is a must-visit to truly appreciate what makes Shiraz so famous among people.
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Shah Cheragh
Shah Cheragh Shiraz (in Persian: King of Light) is one of the most popular funerary monuments in Iran. It is home to tombs of Ahmad and Mohammad, two brothers of Ali ar-Ridha – 8th Imam of Shia Muslims. Circa 900 A.D, the two brothers aiming to join Ali ar-Ridha, who at the time resided in Khorasan of Iran (in eastern Iran) as the appointed successor to Abbasid caliph, took refugee in Shiraz but were persecuted by the Abbasids. The tombs remained unknown until early 12th century A.D. Different accounts or myths exist around the discovery of the tombs; All of which revolve around noticing a luminous light in the distance, where later the gravesites were discovered. And this is basically the reason behind the appellation: ‘’King of Light’’ or Shah Cheragh Mausoleum.
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Arg of Karim Khan
Formerly a prison, but now an architectural wonder on exhibit. The structure of the citadel combines military and residential architecture, for it was the home of Karim Khan and the military center of that period.
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Persepolis
Tourists coming down to Shiraz must not miss the chance to visit the Persepolis. The Persepolis, Shiraz is a must to every itinerary to Shiraz for its beauty the grandeur and history. It is a major Shiraz Tourist attraction which represents the grandeur of the Persian Empire. The Persepolis, Shiraz is situated at the center of the Persian Empire and was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenians. The exact location of the Persepolis in Shiraz is in Fars province which lies at a distance of 60 kilometers from Shiraz, near Marvdasht city.
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Eram Garden
Eram Garden (Bagh-e-eram) - Highly recommended. This stunningly beautiful complex contains a vast network of gardens, as well as a colorful palace and a system of small artificial rivers flowing throughout the entire area.
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Naqsh-e Rustam
Naqsh-e Rustam is an ancient necropolis, located near Persepolis and 68 km northeast of Shiraz city. Naqsh-e Rustam Shiraz is the necropolis of the Achaemenid Dynasty (550–330 BC) and contains rock-reliefs from the Sassanid era (224–651 AD). Naghsh-e Rostam counts as one of the top Shiraz attractions, paired with Persepolis. A historic treasury lies in the Naqsh-e Rustam tombs location. Naghshe Rostam Shiraz is where the tomb of Darius I is located. According to the Naqsh-e Rustam inscription, archaeologists have discovered which great kings reside in Naqsh e Rustam burials. Inside Naqsh e Rustam tombs lacks any special design, however, there are carved the Naqsh-i Rustam inscriptions on the façade. Naghshe Rostam relief is like an ancient family album of the Achaemenids.
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Ganjalikhan Bathhouse
This bath is a collection of art, architecture and using different materials with a suitable space which attracts people to itself. The architect of bath and in general Ganjali khan complex is a Yazdian architect named “Ostad Mohammad Soltani” who indeed knew the political, economical and cultural conditions of its time. Ganjali khan bath is a wonderful work, that with its beautiful tile-works, paintings plaster-works pats the eyes of every visitor. Baths are included among the inseparable part of the city’s building and are the main and important parts of Islamic cities and villages. The entrance to the Ganjali bathhouse is located along a section of Ganjali Khan Bazaar. The entry portal of these baths has been decorated with beautiful paintings of Safavid era. The bath is 64m in length and 30m in width at an area about 1380 sq.m. The length of its hot-chamber (Garmkhane) is 6/25m in width is 7/5 m and its reservoir is 8/5 m in length and 5/7 in width at an area of 44/8sq.m. It consists of two main parts; hot-chamber and dressing room. According to the class division in Safavid era the dressing room of bath has 6 chambers which each of them devoted to a special social class, including “Sayeds, clregies, tribal chiefs, grades, merchants and rustics. However, today they are one are two statues in every chamber of the dressing room that demonstrate the feature of mentioned classes.
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Jame Mosque
Jame mosque which has been made in the 14th century was the main place for Moslems prayer in Kerman. Because of its special and important position which was located near the bazaar and in the centre of the city, Jame mosque of Kerman sites in the angle between Qadamgah bazaar from the south and so Shariati street from north and Shohada (moshtaqie) square from the east. In the west side, there is a huge and high portal which has been decorated with beautiful tile-works and is watchtower has added to its beauty. It has too large summer and winter porches and on the west side there is sites Mahdieh building. Some of the shops of Qadamgah and Mozafari bazaars have bequeathed their income to the expenses of this mosque.
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Pahlavanpour Garden
Pahlavanpur garden is one of the well-known and historical orchards of Iran. The orchard manifests Iranian and traditional architecture and has an eye-catching landscape. Located in Mehriz city, the orchard covers an area of roughly 5 hectares which is dated to Qajar era. Although the orchard was constructed in Qajar era, the hallmarks of the architectural styles, belonging to Zand dynasty are evident in different parts of this orchard. Historical buildings in this orchard have created a special bond between the nature and the art of architecture. The orchard includes a summerhouse, a winter quarter, janitor’s unit, the public bathroom and the kitchen Its architectural style is a blend of the architectural style of the summerhouse and the central courtyard.
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Amir Chakhmaq Complex
The 19th-century Amir Chakhmaq Complex with its imposing three-story facade is one of the abundant tourist hotspots of Yazd, an oasis city in central Iran. Located on a square of the same name, the prominent complex is noted for its eye-catching rows of symmetrical sunken alcoves, which are perfectly lit up following the sunset. The structures that make up the complex include a mosque, a caravanserai, a bathhouse, a cold-water well and a tekyeh where Shiite Muslims come together for observing special religious ceremonies, all of which have been designed in accordance with traditional layout principles. The perfectly proportioned niches on the façade may seem at their best and most photogenic late in the afternoon, when towering exterior appears to glow against the darkening sky and copper-coloured sunlight is captured within each alcove. A pedestrianized square overlooking the complex is usually full of visitors. It is landscaped with a vast pool, illuminated fountains, well-manicured trees and shrubs that lend an attractive foreground to the splendid vista at night.
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Yazd Masjid-e-Jameh
The Masjid-e-Jameh Yazd is the grand, congregational mosque of Yazd city. The 12th-century mosque is still in use today. It was first built under Ala’oddoleh Garshasb of the Al-e Bouyeh dynasty. The mosque was largely rebuilt between 1324 and 1365, and is one of the outstanding historical buildings of Iran. The mosque is a fine specimen of the Azari style of Persian architecture. The mosque is crowned by a pair of minarets, the highest in Iran, and the portal’s facade is decorated from top to bottom in dazzling tile work, predominantly blue in colour. Within is a long arcaded courtyard where behind a deep-set south-east iwan is a sanctuary chamber (shabestan). This chamber, under a squat tiled dome, is exquisitely decorated with faience mosaic: its tall faience Mihrab, dated 1365, is one of the finest of its kind in existence. The elegant patterns of brickwork and the priceless inscription of mosaic tiles bearing angular Kufic all create a sense of beauty. The main prayer niche, the one which is located below the dome, is decorated with elegant mosaic tiles. On the two star-shaped inlaid tiles, the name of the builder and the time of construction of the prayer niche sparkle beautifully. The two towering minarets dating back to the Safavid era measure 52 meters in height and 6 meters in diameter.
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Dolat Abad Garden
Dolat Abad Garden: Imagine a hot sandy desert. Sun is up and you can feel the high-temperature rays in your every cell. Neither wind nor breeze. Nothing but heat. Are you ready for a miracle to put you at leisure? Are you ready to get cool and relaxed? Dolat Abad Garden (Dowlat Abad Garden) is somewhere you’re looking for! Generally, the Persian garden style is a really unique one indeed. UNESCO has listed 9 of the Persian gardens of Iran and Dolat Abad Garden is one of them. The moment you enter the gate you are astonished with the nature you didn’t expect to see. A manmade waterway with small fountains, walled with tall trees leading you to the pavilion in the middle of the garden. As you walk down the path you can feel the cool breeze touching your skin and the shade of trees relieving you from the burning sun. We hope that you are feeling better than those heaty moments before entering the Dolat Abad Garden.
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Shah Abbasi Caravanserai
Meybod Caravanserai or popular as Shah Abbasi Caravanserai Meybod, built in 1689, sits in the city of Meybod, 56 km northwest of Yazd City. Properly preserved, Meybod Caravanserai is one of the numerous caravanserais of Iran, constructed in the Safavid era (1501-1726). It is neighbored by Kolar Water Reservoir (Ab Anbar) on its entrance, an Icehouse (Yakhchal) on its opposite, and a Pony Express (Chapar-Khaneh) on its side. Hence, Meybod sightseeing counts as one of the popular Yazd tourist attractions. Caravanserais were constructed along the highly commuted Silk Road and major trade or pilgrimage routes throughout history. During the Safavid Era, especially the reign of Shah Abbas the Great, 5th and influential king of Safavid Dynasty, numerous caravanserais were established to facilitate commutes as part of their growing international trade and relations policy, and pilgrimage routes to/from religious cities. Meybod Caravanserai, like its counterparts, did not just offer an austere place to stay the night, but it served travellers with full amenities such as equipped chambers and niches, freshwater access, animal stalls, etc. for a comfortable stay of several days.
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Chak Chak Village
Chak Chak Village is located in Ardakan County, 70 km north of Yazd city. The temple of Chak Chak is perched beneath a cliff, which is one of the holy Zoroastrian mountain temples in Iran when the avid Zoroastrians gather on special occasions to observe their rituals. While the temple is a man-made grotto in the cliff, historical beliefs and legends shrouds the sanctuary. The mystery of the history of Chak Chak Village is a folklore legend as it goes: After the invasion of Arabs to the realm of Sassanid Dynasty and the defeat of the last king, Yazdegerd III, the royal family took refuge in the current city of Yazd. By the time Arabs conquered Yazd, the family separated to increase the chance of survival. One of Yazdegerd’s daughters, Nikbanu, flees to the Ardakan mountain and Chak Chak Village. And prays to Ahura Mazda (what Zoroastrians call The God) to protect her from Arabs. In response of her sincere supplication, Ahura Mazda commanded the mountain to be opened and safe haven for the chaste lady.
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Si-o-se Pol Bridge
Si-o-Se Pol Bridge (or Allahverdi Khan bridge) is the largest bridge among the 11 bridges in Isfahan city, which cross the river of Zayanderud, an of Isfahan tourist attractions. The bridge was built in early 17th century by the order of Safavid king, Shah Abbas I, to serve as a bridge and also a dam. The popular name Si o se Pol (lit. 33 bridge) comes from the structure of the bridge comprising of 2 superimposed rows of 33 arches. The first thing that comes to mind about Isfahan city is probably the Si o se Pol bridge. All people in Iran know si-o-se pol bridge in Isfahan as its symbol (bridge of 33 arches Iran in English). Si-o-se Pol Isfahan Iran like other must-see places has a history behind it.
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Imam Mosque
The construction of this mosque situated at the south side of Imam Square (Naqsh-e Jahan) started in 1020 A.H under the order of Shah Abbas I during the twenty-fourth year of his reign, and the decorations and extensions of the building were completed during the rule of his successors. The chief architect and the supervisor of the building were Ostad Ali Akbar Isfahani and Moheb Ali Beik. This mosque is a masterpiece of the 16th century from the viewpoint of architecture, tile work and stone carving. One of the interesting features of this mosque is the echo of sound in the center of the gigantic dome in the southern section. The height of this dome is 52 m and the minarets therein 48m; whereas the minarets at its portal in the Naqsh-e-Jahan Square reach an elevation of 42 m. The huge one-piece marble and other slabs of stone, besides the intricate tile work and adornments, prove extremely spectacular views of this mosque.
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Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
This mosque is another masterpiece of architecture and tilework of the 16th century which was constructed by a decree issued by Shah Abbas I and took a period of 18 years to be completed. The architect and mason of this structure was Ostad Mohammad Reza Isfahani. Inside tile work decorations of the plinth to the top are covered with mosaic tiles. In terms of the architectural grandeur of the mosque, foreign archaeologists believe: “It can hardly be considered a product of human hands.” Sheikh Lotfollah was one of the great pious in the Shia sect, in what is known as Lebanon today. At the invitation of Shah Abbas I, he came to reside in Isfahan. This place was constructed in honour of this great man who led the prayers and preached in this mosque.