Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is surely one of the most beautiful manmade wonders in the world. With a capacity to hold more than 40,000 worshippers at a time, it is easily the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates. Located in Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE, this is one of the must-visit spots when you are visiting this Emirate city. While the size of the impressive structure and its many fine features are reasons enough to visit the Grand Mosque, it is important to be prepared so that you have a stress-free and memorable visit.
Getting to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
As we have built your interest by stating the facts about the mosque, it is time to talk about the other important details, the first being getting there. If you are in Abu Dhabi, you can easily take a taxi or cab which would leave you exactly at the entrance of the mosque. If you want to know how to travel from Dubai to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, you have a few options. You can take a public bus that would take you from Dubai bus station to Abu Dhabi bus station, from where you can take a cab. If you want to have a more comfortable ride, hiring a private car or a cab is also a good option. Alternatively, there are several tour companies that arrange tour services that take you to the Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi from Dubai. Whichever mode you choose, it would take around 90 minutes to two hours to reach the mosque from Dubai.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Entrance Tickets
Unlike several other tourist spots and sightseeing places in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the Grand Mosque does not charge an entry free. Yes, it is completely free. Moreover, the guided tour is also free of cost.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Timings
The Grand Mosque is open throughout the week (except Friday) from 9 in the morning till 10 in the evening. On Friday, the mosque opens its door to visitors at 4:30 in the evening. However, these timings change during Ramadan, the holy month of the Muslims. During this time of the year, the mosque opens at 9 in the morning and closes at 2 in the afternoon. It remains closed throughout the day on Friday. While you are free to explore the museum on your own, a guided tour would be interesting as well as informational.
Guided tours are available at 10 AM, 11 Am and 5 PM from Sunday to Thursday, at 5 PM and 7 PM on Friday, and 10 AM, 11 AM, 2 PM, 5 PM and 7 PM on Saturdays. The tour lasts for around 45-60 minutes. If you are interesting in this free tour, you need to reach the east side of the mosque, at least 15 minutes before it starts.
Best Time to Visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
While you can visit the mosque anytime during the opening hours, there is surely a best time to visit the mosque. Early morning and late evening are great time to visit as the temperature is low. Moreover, the best time is at sunset or just before sunset when the mosque looks glorious against the rays of the setting sun. Nevertheless, the Grand Mosque looks surreal during the night time as well when the artificial lights flood the place. You can also visit the place during the day, when the sun is at the highest. While it would be hot and a bit uncomfortable outside with the sun and the glaring white marble, the indoors are air-conditioned and cool.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Dress Code
This is one of the most important things to know when you are visiting the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Being a mosque, it is important to dress conservatively, and this applies even to men. Men should stick to full pants, rather than shorts along with t-shirts or shirts. It is better to avoid t-shirts with cut sleeves. If you are wearing shorts, you would be asked to wear a kandura over your attire, which you can rent from the entrance.
When it comes to women’s dress code, the rules are even stricter. You have to ensure that no body part, including your ankles and wrists are showing when you enter the mosque. Even if you have dressed conservatively, you would have to wear an abaya and a headscarf over your clothes. You can get one yourself or rent one for free at the entrance.
Additional Tips for Grand Mosque Visit
Here are some additional tips that would make your visit to Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi simple:
• Wear your sunglasses if you are visiting during the day as the sun and the white marble can have a blinding effect.
• Make sure you follow the rules religiously. Breaking of rules is taken seriously and could land you in trouble. One of the important rules to follow is to not to walk through the centre of the mosque.
• Do not carry food and beverages inside the mosque. There is a cafe inside the premises, where you can have a coffee or tea and snacks before or after your tour.
• You have to remove your footwear outside before you step inside the mosque. However, it is ok to wear socks.
• If you are visiting the mosque with little children, make sure that they do not run around and are always supervised.
• It is important to keep your voices low and your head covered (women) while you are inside the mosque.
• Avoid touching the Quran if you are a non-Muslim. Another thing to avoid is PDA.
Facts about Grand Mosque
The grand structure of the Sheih Zayed Mosque is extraordinary and there are some things at this mosque that you would never see anywhere else. Here are some of the most interesting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque facts.
• The mosque is named after the first President of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who also was the one who commissioned it. However, he died before the completion of the mosque (2007). His mausoleum is located on the northern side of the mosque.
• The architecture of the mosque in inspired by Mughal, Moorish and Persian elements. The white marble, the intricate flower designs, the beautiful minarets and domes, the embellished pillars, and the exquisite crystal chandeliers are a sight to see.
• The mosque is home to the largest handmade carpet in the world. Spread around 5627 sqm, the carpet weighs 35 tonnes. It took 2 years and 1200 women to complete making the carpet.
• You would find several amazing chandeliers inside the mosque. Designed by Faustig from Munich, Germany, these are some of the largest chandeliers in the world. Embellished with Swarovski crystals, some of them weigh almost 12 tonnes.
• It is estimated that the total cost of constructing the Grand Mosque was somewhere around $500 million.
• While mosque can hold 40,000 worshippers at a time, the main prayer hall can itself hold around 7000 people.
• This massive structure was built between 1996 and 2007, and it required 38 construction companies and more than 3000 workers to complete the entire project.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi is one of the few mosques in the UAE which are open to non-Muslims. So, if you want to know more about the religion, culture and heritage, make it a point to visit the Grand Mosque during your next trip to the UAE.