Abu Dhabi show at Sheikh Zayed Mosque to trace holy pilgrimage of Hajj

Silk fragment probably from the tomb of the Prophet (1600–1800), Ottoman Turkey; Woven silk. (Courtesy: Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization).

An exhibition titled ‘Hajj: Memories of a Journey’ will open to the public at the grounds of the iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi later in the year on September 19, 2017.

It is being organized by the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center (SZGMC) to commemorate its tenth anniversary and to further consolidate its cultural and enlightening role, in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi).

Pilgrimage scroll. About 1880 Hijaz, present day Saudi Arabia, Ink and watercolour on paper, backed on card and fabric. (Courtesy: Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art)

Pilgrimage scroll. About 1880 Hijaz, present day Saudi Arabia, Ink and watercolour on paper, backed on card and fabric. (Courtesy: Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art)


Telling the story and history of Mecca, and the rituals of Hajj, as one of the five fundamental pillars and practices in Islam, ‘Hajj: Memories of a Journey’ will bring to life the profound significance of the sacred practices, while also underlining the evident attributes of tolerance, equality and the vast diversity to be found in Islam.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the most prominent and leading landmarks of culture and intellectual exchange in the UAE and is visited by five million people annually.  

Silk hanging panel from the sanctuary in Mecca, 1321 AH, 1903/4 CE, Egypt, Metal-thread embroidered silk. Text from Holy Qur‘an chapter 33 al-Ahzab (The Joint Forces), verse 56. (Courtesy: Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization)

Silk hanging panel from the sanctuary in Mecca, 1321 AH, 1903/4 CE, Egypt, Metal-thread embroidered silk. Text from Holy Qur‘an chapter 33 al-Ahzab (The Joint Forces), verse 56. (Courtesy: Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization)



‘Hajj: Memories of a Journey’ exhibition derives its perception from the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.  

Emirati pilgrims 

The exhibition represents SZGMC’s mission to highlight the humanitarian virtues of co-existence and tolerance promoted by the late Sheikh Zayed, and will also emphasise the experience of Emirati pilgrims over the years, using oral histories and some of the earliest photographs and archival materials, illustrating the old routes and paths taken by pilgrims to Mecca from the UAE and the rest of the world, as well as the many challenges they faced during their travels.

The upcoming exhibition will display objects from major public and private collections, both from the UAE and from other countries around the world.

Holy Qur’an copied in China in 30 volumes (1156 AH, 1743 CE), China, Ink, gold and colours on paper. (Courtesy: Zayed National Museum, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority).

Holy Qur’an copied in China in 30 volumes (1156 AH, 1743 CE), China, Ink, gold and colours on paper. (Courtesy: Zayed National Museum, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority).


Through a showcase of artefacts, historic photographs, multi-media displays and commissioned contemporary installations, ‘Hajj: Memories of a Journey’ will unfold a rich and engaging narrative charting the history and cultural context for this spiritual pilgrimage.

It will also offer a number of public programs and educational workshops inspired by the exhibition’s concept and message. 

Historical artefacts 

According to Ahmed Juma Al Zaabi, Deputy Minister of Presidential Affairs and Board Chairman of the SZGMC, “By displaying historical artefacts and important documentation, the SZGMC aims to underline the noble values that relay the significance of the journey of Hajj, and to convey a comprehensive image of this journey from the time Islam first evolved in the Arabian Peninsula to date. The Center clearly expresses the profound place it holds in the life of each and every Muslim in the UAE and in the entire world.”

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the most prominent and leading landmarks of culture and intellectual exchange in the UAE. (TCA Abu Dhabi)

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the most prominent and leading landmarks of culture and intellectual exchange in the UAE. (TCA Abu Dhabi)


Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of TCA Abu Dhabi, stated, “Millions of Muslims descend on Mecca every year from all around the world to take part in rituals that bring them together in humility and unity, while reviving some of the deepest Islamic and cultural connotations. The significance of the ‘Hajj: Memories of a Journey’ exhibition stems from these qualities of solidarity and the wide cultural dialogue, fostered by the fifth pillar of Islam.”

“The exhibition will highlight the immense influence Hajj had on numerous cultures, united by faith throughout the centuries. It will also feature objects ranging from historical artefacts to contemporary artworks, some never before exhibited,” he added.

The exhibition will further highlight the exceptional experience by appreciating Sheikh Zayed’s own Hajj journey.  

Early spread of Islam 

‘Hajj: Memories of a Journey’ offers the public an opportunity to glance into the historical data and documents, and recounts the story of the early spread of Islam at various historical sites in the Arabian Peninsula.

The exhibition will also refer to various verses and texts from the Quran as well as the five pillars of Islam, which are concluded by Hajj and its sacred rituals.

‘Hajj: Memories of a Journey’ will present a holistic narrative cantered on Hajj. It will begin with an exploration of the historical progression of the arrival and adoption of Islam in Arabia and evidence of the earliest centuries of Islamic practice, through key studies and archaeological sites in the UAE.

It will focus, too, on the significance of the Holy Qur’an, as a text divinely revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

Another special feature of the upcoming exhibition is that also on display will be a collection of the Kaaba's coverings, or ‘Kiswah’, from different historic eras, along with a collection of both public and private historic pictures from the UAE and other countries.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:50 - GMT 06:50
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