We look at things constantly, but we take so much longer to really see them. It’s been over 20 years of living near this mosque in my hometown Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and I really never fully appreciated its architecture until my most recent trip a few weeks ago.
Designed in 1986 by Zuhair Fayez and Associates for Saudi Aramco’s headquarter town Adh-Dhahran, this mosque sits in the heart of the core work area. Coincidentally it made its appearance in the town the same year I did. My earliest memories with my dad include him taking me to Friday prayer with him and my brothers. The next time after that I remember going was during Ramadan taraweeh in highschool—and after that, a few weeks ago in May 2015.
What always stood out about this mosque was its blue stained glass border across the side walls. I thought this was something my friend would appreciate so I started taking pictures to share. In that it occurred to me bit by bit and then as a whole, how beautiful the entire mosque is.
The prayer area and the minaret are separate from each other so that the minaret stands alone some feet away from the entrances. Both structures have sharp angles and defined edges, however the base to each has been curved so that it almost looks like the mosque has smoothly emerged right out of the desert sand. The colors of the structures are muted greys and tans, much like the surrounding buildings. There is no heavy ornamentation on the outside, except geometric patterns and very subtle Arabic calligraphy that would only be noticeable from close up front. The mosque stands as a natural part of the work area. This consideration made by embodies the place prayer has in the religion. Islam is intended to be a way of life and prayer is a daily, very frequent part of the Muslim routine.
It is so appropriate that the place of worship has been designed not in a way that makes it stand out or attract excessive attention, but rather in a way that reinforces prayer as a simple, pleasing part of the everyday.
The stained glass windows enhance this mosque and use lighting as an element itself. The inside of the mosque has two parts: the main hall and the upper section for women. The women’s section is small but serene. It is lined with a neutral green carpet and a skylight in the roof sits right above the front-center row.
The rest of the mosque is lined with stained glass windows. There is plenty of sunlight that comes in but the blues in the windows help reduce the impact of the bright sun outside, and a cool, tranquil light fills the mosque instead.
Monolithic pillars uphold the building in the main hall downstairs. These pillars also bear no ornamentation. The only ornament that really exists is the windows that are purposed to cooling the incoming sunlight.
And just a fun fact I learned through research: while this mosque is named Abu Bakr As Siddiq Mosque, there is another mosque in close proximity a few hundred yards away commonly referred to as the al-Muneirah masjid, but whose actual name is Omar ibn Khattab mosque.