Coral Stone Mosques of Maldives

Maroof Jameel and Yahaya Ahmad


Dr. Sr. Yahaya Ahmad and Mauroof Mohamed Jameel have completed a painstaking graphic survey of the now endangered ancient stone mosques of the Maldives, which were built using porite coral stone from the reefs surrounding the island nation. These include exquisitely carved architectural features and detailed lacquer work. Little is known about these mosques, and the purpose of this book was to identify the surviving mosques, their state of condition, the influences in their evolution, and to establish a typology in terms of architectural features. The authors have identified all of the surviving mosques in Maldives and have assessed their condition. They have traced the specific geo-cultural regions in the Indian Ocean that have influenced the evolution of the culture of Maldives and have compared the prominent architectural features of these regions to those of these mosques, defining similarities with structures in the South Asian, East African, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern regions. The mosques have been analyzed to identify typological architectural features that establish that the coral stone mosques of Maldives share a simple rectangular or square prayer hall with a combination of antechambers called Dhaala, a unique mihrab, raised coral stone platform, decorated rising steps, tiered roof, coffered ceilings with a recessed area called laage, a post and beam structure, unique arched sliding doors, diagonal lattice work windows, special coral carvings, lacquer work, and calligraphy. These are all carefully detailed in this invaluable research.


9.5" x 11.8" Landscape
Publication date: 
June 15, 2017
Rights world: 

Mohamed Jameel Mauroof has wide-ranging experience in design and development and institution management. He has worked on the Hulhumale project to create new landmass in the Maldives to offset the impact of rising seas due to global warming and has served in the Heritage Department of Ministry of Construction and Public Infrastructure, in the Cabinet of the Maldives. He is both an architect and an artist with a Master’s degree from the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. His thesis, An Architectural Typological Study of the Coral Stone Mosques of Maldives, is this basis for this book.

About the author: 

Dr. Sr. Yahaya Ahmad received his Master of Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis and his Doctor of Philosophy in Conservation Management from Liverpool University in the United Kingdom. He began his academic career at the University Teknologi Mara (UITM) in 1989 before joining the University of Malaya in 1995. He was among the group that established the Department of Architecture and the Faculty of Built Environment at the University of Malaya. He was appointed Coordinator of Architecture (1997­–1999), Head of Architecture Department (1999–2001), and Deputy Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Development (2005–2007). He then became Deputy Dean, of Higher Degrees and Research, from 2009 to 2011 before being seconded by UM to serve as Deputy Commissioner of the Department of National Heritage.


While in that post, he led fellow Malaysian delegates to many international meetings on culture and heritage. He was the first and the only Malaysian, to serve as a Council Member of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM/UNESCO) from 2007­–2011, elected by 180 countries at its 25th General Assembly in Rome. He was involved in the drafting of the National Heritage Act of Malaysia in 2005 and headed a team of local and international experts to prepare the Nomination Dossier for Melaka and George Town as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, from 2004 to 2008 and headed up a team of experts in the re-construction of Bastion Middlesburg, Melaka Fort from 2007 to 2008. He has, so far, restored more than twenty heritage buildings of different complexity, and has prepared more than 100 conservation grant applications. Appointed by Ahmedabad Municipal Council, India as International Expert to advise on the preparation of Nomination Dossier for the Historic City of Ahmedabad (2011) and by the Government of the Republic of Maldives (2011) to head Technical Team to prepare the Draft Nomination Dossier of Coral Stones of Maldives to the UNESCO World Heritage List. He is currently lecturing at the University of Malaya and has graduated five Ph.D. students and is supervising another ten from all over the world on different aspects of conservation and built environment.


He was subsequently appointed Deputy Dean of University of Malaya Sustainability Science Research Cluster in 2015. In 2011 he was appointed by the Government of the Republic of Maldives to head up a Technical Team to prepare Draft Nomination Dossier of Coral Stones of Maldives to the UNESCO World Heritage List, leading to his participation in this publication.