During the 1980's, the Egyptian architect Abdel Wahed El-Wakil designed over a dozen mosques in Saudi Arabia. While these mosques differ in size, formal composition, and sources of financing, they nonetheless are umted by a number of general characteristics. Firstly, they can all be referred to as revivalist structures. All draw heavily, and often very directly, on various historical prototypes belonging to the architectural heritage of the Islamic world.
All these mosques share strong similarities in the use of materials and construction technologies Their construction is based on the utilisation of load bearing brick walls, vaults and domes. Therefore, these structures are built of hollow baked bricks held together with mortar Most of the brick surfaces are covered with white plaster, and in some cases, with granite. However, the interior of the vaults and domes are generally left exposed, and are only coated with a layer of browinsh paint. As for reinforced concrete, its use is limited to specific elements, which include the foundations, lintels, and flat ceiling.
The Qubbah mosque rests on the site where the Prophet Mohammad built the first mosque after his Hijra from Madina. When El-Wakil was commissioned to conceive a larger mosque, he initially attempted to incorporate the ninetieth century structure into his design. However, the client eventually decided to pull down the older mosque, and to completely replace it with a new one. The complex consists of a rectangular prayer hall raised on a second storey platform. In turn, the prayer hall connects to a cluster consisting of residential areas, offices, ablution facihties, shops, and a library. The prayer hall itself is arranged around a central courtyard. A sizeable hall characterised by six large domes resting on clustered columns flanks the courtyard on the south. A portico, which is two bays in depth, borders the courtyard on the east and west, while a one-bayed portico borders it on the north, and separates it from the womens prayer area. The women s prayer area, which is surrounded by a screen, is divided into two parts as a passageway connects the northern entrance with the courtyard. Six additional entrances are dispersed on the northern, eastern and western façades. Four minarets mark the corners of the prayer hall. These minarets rest on square bases, have octagonal shafts which take on a circular shape as they reach the top. Also, the minarets are accentuated by two balconies resting on muqarnas vaults.