Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque might not be an ancient mosque full of great history, but it has quickly become an iconic landmark in Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates.
Tourists come here to admire the spectacular and lavish architecture and the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is also a key place of worship for Friday and Eid prayers.
Here’s a complete guide for visitors with information about opening hours, entrance fees, transportation, history, and interesting facts about Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
Ticket Info & Opening Hours
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is open every day from 9am to 10pm except on Friday mornings when the mosque is closed for prayer. The mosque’s open-door policy invites tourists and travelers from far and wide to step inside and witness the impressive architecture.
History & more information
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was built in honor of the first ruler of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, and took 11 years to complete.
In 2007, after $545 million was spent on construction and design, the mosque opened to the public for worship. Not only is the mosque is a beautiful example of modern Islamic architecture it also showcases intricate design and was the dream project of Syrian architect Yousef Abdelky (who took inspiration from Persian architectural styles).
Before you even begin to admire the mosques 82 domes, 1000 columns, and endless chandeliers you’ll likely be taken aback by the gleaming white marble found on the building’s facade.
This isn’t the only impressive architectural feat though as you’ll also notice intricate stonework that features semi-precious stones and 24-karat gold detailing!
As the mosque is one of the few in the region open to non-Muslims it’s an incredibly popular tourist attraction and it really shouldn’t be missed on any trip to the United Arab Emirates.
Make sure you dress appropriately and time your visit to avoid the crowds. Don’t forget to show respect to those who are in worship and you’ll get to enjoy the very best of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
They do provide female visitors with a black abaya, free of charge. However, it might be a good idea to confirm this before visiting, because unless appropriately dressed and covered with a headscarf, you won’t be allowed inside.
The sun is shining bright in Abu Dhabi year-round, and on top of that, you’ll be visiting a huge complex that is mostly white. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the reflecting light.
Points of Interest
The carpet in the main prayer hall is considered to be the world’s largest carpet!
Seven chandeliers that were imported from Munich are dotted around the mosque, see if you can find them.
The pools found along the edges of the arcades were built to reflect the mosque’s columns which are illuminated at night.
There are 96 columns in the Prayer Hall alone and all are clad with marble and mother of pearl.
How to get to Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Taxis from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and the Grand Mosque costs roughly 250-275 AED each way. The ride takes about 90 minutes.
Visitors who are coming from Dubai on a day trip can take bus number E101 from Ibn Battuta Metro Bus Stop to Abu Dhabi Central bus station. Upon arrival, switch to local bus number 54 which stops at the Eastern Ring Road, which is a 7-minute walk from Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
Make the most of your time in Abu Dhabi by visiting some of the city’s most talked-about attractions, monuments, and museums. The below points of interest should be on your to-do list:
- Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
- Emirates Palace
- Yas Island
- Louvre Abu Dhabi
- Corniche Road
- Saadiyat Island
Best time to visit
The best time to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is in the evening around 5:30pm when the mosque is deemed to be at its quietest. As for what time of year you should visit, November through to May are ideal months as the weather is less humid which makes exploring the giant mosque on foot more bearable!
Facts about Sheikh Zayed Mosque
- Covering 12 hectares fo land with an area of 290 meters, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the third-largest mosque in the world (after the mosque in Mecca and Medina).
- It can accommodate up to 41,000 worshipers at any one time (the main hall can accommodate a crowd of 10,000)!
- The beautiful design of Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque minarets combines Mamluk, Ottoman, and Fatimid architectural styles.
- The carpet in the main prayer hall is the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet. It took around 8 months to design, 12 months to knot, and 2 months to transport, trim and weave the pieces together.
- Different building materials were sourced from many countries including Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Germany, Austria, New Zealand China, India, and Pakistan.
- There are 82 domes of various sizes in the mosque, the largest of which is located in the center of the main prayer hall
- Sheikh Zayed Mosque features a unique lighting system designed to reflect the phases of the moon. There are 22 light towers that project soft clouds of a ‘bluish-gray’ color on the exterior of the mosque.
- The construction of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque began in 1996 and took 11 years. It took more than 3,000 workers and 38 contracting companies to construct the mosque. It was opened for worship in 2007.
- The mosque is named after the founding father and the first president of the United Arab Emirates — late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. His final resting place is located beside the mosque.
- It contains seven chandeliers, each is made up of millions of Swarovski crystals. The largest of these is the second largest in the world, measuring 33ft in diameter and 49ft high.
FAQ’s (Things to know before you go)
What should I wear to Sheikh Zayed Mosque?
Dress conservatively and wear loose-fitting clothing that covers up the body. Men are forbidden to wear shorts, women must wear a long-sleeved shirt and long trousers/skirt to enter, and everyone must remove their shoes before entering.
Even though the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is open for non-muslims, it’s still a place of worship for Muslims. Black abayas are also provided to visitors who aren’t appropriately dressed.
Do I need to book a tour to go inside?
No, visitors do not need to book a tour as the mosque can be explored at your leisure. However, guided tours are a great way to learn the history of the Grand Mosque as you won’t find any information boards inside.
Can I bring my luggage with me on my visit?
Only handbags and smaller backpacks are allowed inside the mosque. Visitors will go through a security check at the entrance (similar to the procedure at an airport).
Can I bring food and drink inside Sheikh Zayed Mosque?
Food and drink are not permitted inside the mosque. Please make sure you have cleared your back of edible items and liquids before going through security. If you’re hungry, you’ll find a coffee shop at the North Gate entrance to the mosque.
Which parts of the mosque are open for non-muslim visitors?
Once you’ve passed through security you are free to explore the inside and outside of the mosque. The only room that isn’t accessible in the mosque is the male and female prayer rooms which are for worshippers only.
Is it free to enter the Sheikh Zayed Mosque?
The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is free of charge for visitors, who are asked to follow the dress code and respect worshippers.
Do you have more questions before visiting Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi? Leave a comment below!