Al Badiyah Mosque

United Arab Emirates

Considered the oldest mosque in the UAE, this curvaceous, squat mud-brick structure dates to 1446. I's adorned with four pointed domes and rests on a single internal pillar. Badiyah (also spelt Bidyah and Bidiya), 8km north of Khor Fakkan, is famous for this bijou structure. Non-Muslims are free to enter but must be modestly dressed and remove their shoes; women must also cover their hair. Headscarves and abayas (a robe-like dress worn by women) can be borrowed from the attendant.

The inside prayer hall, with colourful rugs laid out on palm-leaf plaited matting and Qurans stacked into the niches of its smooth plastered walls, has a tranquil, contemplative feel. Note the simple geometric designs on the domes and the minbar (mosque pulpit) made from stones and coral-block. The mosque is built into a low hillside along the coastal road just north of Badiyah village and guarded by two ruined watchtowers. It's well worth walking up here for the sweeping views of the Hajar Mountains and the Gulf.

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