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The mysterious origins of Al Bidayah Mosque

Published Jan 02, 2023
Updated Jan 03, 2023

📍 🇦🇪 The mysterious origins of the Al Bidayah Mosque

One of the most relevant historical sites in the Emirate of Fujairah (north eastern side of the UAE*) is the site named Al Bidayah (« the Beginning » in Arabic) that hosts the oldest known mosque of the country. Located in the Hajar mountains, Al Bidayah mosque is also known for its unique architectural style and its mysterious origins.

Made of materials available in the region, coral stones and mud bricks, the yellowish color of the edifice blends beautifully into the arid landscape. With its small dimensions (only 50 spm), its absence of minaret and few decoration, the edifice reminds of the simplicity of the earliest mosque built in the 7th century CE. The originality of the edifice lies on one central pillar that supports four circular-layered domes of unequal dimensions.

Even though the mosque’s date of construction is uncertain, research led by archaeologists with radiocarbon measures believe the construction occurred between 1550 and 1750.  This unique architectural edifice gives us a glimpse of the small community who lived around. One other similar construction has been identified in the Sultane of Oman, the Jaalan Bani Bu Ali Mosque, also named « Mosque of Domes »,  located in the northern east side of the country. Built in the mid-16th century, it is characterized by 52 circular domes - very similar to the Al Bidayah domes. 

* UAE > United Arab Emirates

____ Sources ____ 

>> Mohamed El Amrousi, "Imperial sanctuaries: Arab urban enclaves on the East African coast." Colonial architecture and urbanism in Africa: Intertwined and contested histories, 2012.

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United Arab Emirates
Not applicable
15th-17th century