The Ray of Light Mosque

A modern mosque for men as well as women




Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Co Govers and Joana Ramalhete



Ray of light modern mosque design reflection in pool of water in landscaped garden
Ray of Light contemporary mosque design in Dubai with expressive curved dome

This project was our proposal for a new mosque in Dubai, with equal access for both men and women, hitherto never done. The unusual shape brings people together in one prayer room, while a curtain of light still “separates” them. The dome shape of the prayer hall is perfect for reflecting a maximum of heat during the day, and cooling down effectively at night. The prayer hall is set on top of a sunken landscape which houses washing areas, library, community center and parking. The prayer hall is set on top of a sunken landscape which houses washing areas, library, community center and parking.

Access to the sacred spaces is via a curved rising path, while access to all the other functions of the centre is via the side or back, so as not to interfere with people’s state of mind when on their way to prayer. The sunken spaces are grouped around a courtyard, which bring light deep inside the complex and helps spaces cool down at night. To see a video walkthrough, click here.

modern mosque prayer hall with ray of light dividing men and women
Ray of Light modern mosque at night with illuminated pathways
Dubai mosque with organic form and controversial design
a contemporary mosque design with underground parking and ablutions
library and courtyard of the ray of light modern mosque design
An exploded view of the Ray of Light modern mosque that explores equal access for men and women. Designed by ZEST architecture.

Technical Data

Name: Ray of Light Mosque

Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Client: Competition

Surface area: 2000 sqm.

Project design: 2010

Architects: Co Govers and Joana Ramalhete  (ZEST Architecture)

Model: Mil·limetrats

Graphic documentation: ZEST Architecture

The Ray of Light Mosque beckons you from afar. Its beautiful shape, gently curving, reflects the sunlight. It has a single minaret which is integrated in the flowing geometry. The mosque’s unusual design seeks to blur the edges between men and women at prayer. They are together in a single large space and yet they are still (metaphysically) separated, by the ray of sunlight that falls through the roof.


The prayer hall is raised above an integrated landscape which houses the ablution (washing) areas, library, café and community centre, and a car park. A gently rising ramp leads believers past the ablution areas to the entrance, as a “path of purification”. Entrances to all other functions are on the sides and the back of the building, so as not to disturb this promenade.


The mosque incorporates its own library, set partly underground, to help the space stay cool. The reading room and the community centre are separated by a sunken courtyard, which allows hot air to rise during the day and draws in fresh air at night. Similarly, the ray of light glass, which can be opened electronically, allows for hot air to rise with natural ventilation.The building’s shape is designed for maximum daytime reflection of sunlight and nighttime cooling.


The mosque has not only been published in but was also selected as the cover for a monograph entitled Modern Mosques Design which is a 418-page e-monograph featuring modern and contemporary mosque designs from across the world designed by some of the world’s most renowned architects. The e-monograph is available through Kindle by Amazon and is separated into two volumes. To view the e-monograph, follow these links: (Volume 1) (Volume 2)