Visit Jeddah’s famed floating mosque

Al Rahma mosque beckons gently from the northern tip of Jeddah’s waterfront, a turquoise-domed structure built out across the Red Sea and anchored to the shore by a low-walled walkway.

A local landmark, the structure is affectionately known as the ‘floating mosque’ for the white stilts that suspend it above the water’s edge. At high tide, glinting in the sunlight, the mosque appears to hover serenely over the waves below.

Visitors come to wander the mosque’s open courtyard, admire its marbled elegance, and paddle in the nearby shallows. Over the years it has proved especially popular among Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, for whom Jeddah remains the gateway to the holy cities of Makkah and Medina, but it’s a favored stop for tourists too.

Incredible architecture

Constructed in 1985, Al Rahma mosque blends classical Islamic design with a contemporary architectural take, pairing a gleaming white minaret with a domed aquamarine roof.

The interior is just as impressive, with eight pillars supporting a central vault, from which hangs an intricate chandelier. The roof is prettily inlaid with a ring of stained glass that, when the sun is high in the sky, bathes the hall below with golden light. Ground-level arched windows offer a panoramic view over the water that adds to the sense of the mosque floating above the Red Sea.

The walls are adorned with Islamic art both old and new, though the technology on show – including sound, lighting and air-con systems – is decidedly state of the art. A digital display informs visitors of the day’s prayer times. Take time to stroll the outdoor courtyard to enjoy the sea breeze and coastal views, punctuated by the sounds of waves lapping the shore.

When to visit

Al Rahma mosque is free to enter and is open 24 hours a day, though tourists should note the five prayer times when the mosque is likely to be at its busiest. Visitors are requested to respect the sanctity of the mosque at all times.

Men’s prayer takes place in the main hall, while women are invited to pray in the wooden musalla (prayer hall) that hangs above the main anteroom. Ablution facilities and toilets are located within the premises.

Limited car parking is available nearby. The mosque is at its quietest between prayer times, though those keen to enjoy the most picturesque views will be drawn to dawn and sunset.


Nearby attractions

Early evenings picnics on the corniche are a favorite family pastime in Jeddah, contributing to a convivial atmosphere. The coastal area north of the mosque tends to be quieter than the modern waterfront further south, making it a popular spot for fishing, kite-flying and splashing in the sea.

There are also a number of cafés and restaurants located in the area, including a range of family-friendly restaurants clustered around the lake, a five-minute walk north of the mosque.

At night, look on from the waterfront as the sun sets over the Red Sea, briefly plunging the mosque into darkness before the first beams of spotlight emerge to give the minaret its gentle night-time glow.