Al Bidya Mosque – Al Bidya, United Arab Emirates - Atlas Obscura
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Al Bidya, United Arab Emirates

Al Bidya Mosque

The oldest surviving mosque in the UAE has mysterious origins and unusual architecture. 

After visiting the new, futuristic skyscrapers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Al Bidya Mosque is a respite in its simplicity. It’s the oldest extant mosque in the United Arab Emirates.

Al Bidya is thought to date back to 1446, when it was built into the hillside between the Gulf and the Hajar Mountains, though new research proposes it may be over a century younger than originally believed. Because it’s made entirely of mud and stone, radiocarbon dating a precise age is impossible.

The mosque is located near the village of Al Bidya in the east coast emirate of Fujairah. Its origins largely remain a mystery. Even local elders reportedly know little about its early history.

Al Bidya is uniquely built, mainly because it has fewer domes than other mosques. It has four layered domes, each containing a central pillar to support the structure. While it now has modern lighting and air conditioning, the worn minbar (pulpit), niches for decoration or lighting, and tiny windows for lighting and ventilation echo to a bygone era.

Modestly dressed tourists may visit this place of worship, which still features daily prayers. The surrounding area also includes old watchtowers, ruins of buildings, and market stalls where crafts are currently sold. The area is dotted with local flora.

Know Before You Go

Make sure to wear attire appropriate for visiting a mosque.