The golden dome of this impressive modern mosque dominates the skyline of Male and has become something of a symbol for the city. Opened in 1984, and built with help from the Gulf States, Pakistan, Brunei and Malaysia, the Grand Friday Mosque is striking in its plainness, built in white marble and virtually free from decoration. Set back off the main square, Jumhooree Maidan, and opposite the National Security Service Headquarters, it is the biggest mosque in the country.Entering Male’s harbour by boat, you can still see the gold dome glinting in the sun, although the gold is actually anodised aluminium. The munnaaru, with its space-age shape and distinctive zigzag decoration, was supposed to be the tallest structure in Male, but that title now goes to the telecommunications towers.
Tourists wanting to enter the mosque can only visit between 9am and 5pm, and outside of prayer times. The mosque closes to all non-Muslims 15 minutes before prayers and for the following hour. Before noon and between 2pm and 3pm are the best times to visit. Invading bands of casual sightseers are not encouraged, but if you are genuinely interested and suitably dressed, you’ll be welcomed by one of the staff members who hang out by the entrance. Men must wear long trousers and women a long skirt or dress.
The main prayer hall inside the mosque can accommodate up to 5000 worshippers and has beautifully carved wooden side panels and doors, a specially woven carpet and impressive chandeliers. The Islamic Centre also includes a conference hall, library and classrooms.