The Great Mosque of Algiers, claiming the title of Africa’s largest mosque with the tallest minaret at 265 meters (869 feet), has been inaugurated on the Mediterranean coastline. The mosque is the third-largest globally and the biggest outside Islam’s holiest cities. Its prayer room can accommodate 120,000 devotees.

Despite its grandeur, the mosque’s construction has been marked by political upheavals, delays, and controversies.

Constructed by a Chinese firm during the 2010s, the seven-year building process faced delays and cost overruns due to political instability in Algeria. Experts criticised the choice of the construction site for seismic risks. The state denied these concerns in an official news release.

The mosque received mixed reviews from the Algerian public. Some citizens preferred the construction of hospitals over the mosque, especially considering the seismic concerns. Protests erupted in 2019, leading to the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika after two decades in power. Originally intended as the Abdelaziz Bouteflika Mosque, the project faced a name change due to political developments.

Designed with modernist aesthetics reflecting Arab and North African influences, the mosque includes a library capable of holding 1 million books and a helicopter landing pad. The inauguration ceremony, attended by Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, occurred on the Mediterranean coastline. The mosque officially opens to the public during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, strategically aligning with religious observances.

Initially meant to be Bouteflika’s legacy project, the mosque’s inauguration was delayed. The 2019 protests impacted the intended timing of the former president’s legacy.

The mosque is associated with suspicions of corruption during the Bouteflika era, with allegations of contractor kickbacks and payments to state officials. This places the mosque, alongside other national projects, such as a major highway and 1 million housing units, under scrutiny for financial irregularities.

In reference to the inauguration of the Great Mosque of Algiers, Ali Mohamed Salabi, the general secretary of the World Union of Muslim Ulemas, remarked that the event is anticipated to serve as a guiding force for Muslims “toward goodness and moderation.”