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Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque dark Blue


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The fascinating lighting system philosophy behind the Sheikh Zayed  Grand Mosque

We often drive through the iconic religious landmark ‘The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi’ named after His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late President of the UAE. Every single time, we observe how grandiose and magnificent the building looks at night, with its color changing between white and blue.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque at night blue colors

But how many of us know the story and meaning behind this lighting system?

The UK consultancy design company Speirs and Major Associates was chosen to design the interior and exterior lighting design of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

In the video below, Jonathan Speirs explains that “The building is breathing with the 🌙 moon.”

That’s how they came up with the concept of a 360 degrees lighting scheme connected to the lunar cycle.

So while we observe a full moon in the sky, the mosque shines at night in a cool white light. The color of the mosque is gradually shifting from white to a blue that becomes deeper reflecting the evolution of the moon during the lunar cycle. The color is, therefore, changing every two evenings growing gradually bluer as the moon wanes.


On the fourteenth night of the cycle, the moon is lit in its deepest blue that signifies the ‘no moon’ in the sky.

The poetic moving ☁clouds

Another amazing feature this company came up with is about the illusion of moving cloud shapes that sweep across the moonlit sky in a specific direction, as they come from the Mecca towards the Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque.


Speirs + Major was awarded for the unique conception of this lighting system. They first won the best interior lighting design in the Public Building Category of the 2008 Middle East Lighting Design Awards. They were also awarded ‘Middle East Project of the Year’ for their stunning design.

If you wish to know more about the philosophy behind this lighting conception, we have shared below an interview of Jonathan Speirs:

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