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Siddiqa Fatima Zahra Mosque: The Taj Mahal of Kuwait

The majestic Siddiqa Fatima Zahra Mosque, a replica of the Taj Mahal, has become a much-photographed building in Kuwait. Located in the affluent Kuwaiti neighborhood of Abdullah Mubarak near Kuwait International Airport, the mosque is a must-see attraction for tourists visiting Kuwait. According to a caretaker, people of various nationalities regularly drop by to take pictures of the beautiful mosque.

The construction of the mosque started in 2008 and was completed in 2011. The minarets and dome are adorned with brass crescents. The color of the mosque is a little different – while the real Taj Mahal is white, the Siddiqa Fatima Zahra Mosque is a combination of white and light brown marble sourced from Iran. Iranian and Indian artisans worked 24/7 for eight months etching designs into it.

From afar, the mosque is an impressive structure, and is no doubt a copy of the Taj Mahal, even though I haven’t seen the real Taj. I went there one afternoon and only caretaker Raja Zaidi was there to guide visitors. He said even non-Muslims stop here to take photos. To enter the mosque, visitors need to pass through multiple security checks.

The caretaker doesn’t allow anyone inside without prior permission. “This is a mosque visited by people to worship Allah, and it’s not a museum. The real Taj Mahal is a museum and is visited because of its rich history and because it was built many years ago without computers or engineers. It is recognized by people all over the world,” said Zaidi. The Taj Mahal was built around 1632 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a monument to his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Located in Agra, India is it a globally recognized landmark and has been designated at UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.

The Siddiqa Fatima Zahra Mosque, according to Zaidi, has a library, separate male and female community centers and a diwaniya. The parking area can hold about 1,000 cars. The mosque is flanked by a row of villas on one side, and empty desert on the other. The gated building is centrally air-conditioned and is fully equipped with security cameras in all corners.
The mosque is reportedly the brainchild of former MP Hassan Jowhar, who raised about KD 1.2 million to pay for its construction. Inside, the walls have carefully carved inscriptions from the Holy Quran. While there are copies of the Taj Mahal in other countries such as the US, China and UAE, it is said that the builders obtained permission from the Indian Embassy in Kuwait to avoid copyright issues.

By Ben Garcia

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