I have a confession to make. I did not expect my Abu Dhabi trip to be as wonderful as my 5-day Dubai trip and I was wrong. There’s more to Abu Dhabi than just being the capital of the UAE. To those who thought the UAE is all about Dubai, you might want to reconsider ending your trip there.
On the second day of my trip, I took a taxi to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and even before I entered this huge place of worship, I realized it was a right decision to visit and stay in Abu Dhabi.
As you enter this grand, all-white architecture, you are left amazed. I am not sure if I can explain the beauty of Sheikh Zayed Mosque in words but I will try to showcase it in this post.
About Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi
Located between Musaffah Bridge and Maqta Bridge in the heart of the emirate, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world. It was named after the founding father and first president of the UAE – late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
The construction which spanned across a decade began in 1996 and the grand mosque was opened for worship in 2007.
Being the grand mosque, it serves as a key place of worship in the UAE and more than 40,000 worshippers can worship here at the same time.
Domes and minarets have always been important parts of Islamic architecture. There are 82 domes of various sizes and 4 minarets reflecting Mamluk, Ottoman, and Fatimid architectural styles.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is not only a huge architecture, it is also an exceptionally beautiful one. The plain white color of the building, the floral design on the pillars, those reflective pools around the mosque, and the traditional Moroccan artwork under the domes are some of the things that define the beauty of this mosque.
From the moment you enter this place of worship, you feel like entering a completely different world. Everything becomes utterly calm and peaceful and there’s nothing but the beauty of this mosque for you to cherish.
Time of Visit
The grand mosque is generally open for visitors from Saturday to Thursday between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m.
On Fridays, the mosque is closed for tourism activities in the morning and opens after 4:30 p.m.
For worshippers, the mosque is open throughout the week.
During Ramadan – the holiest month of Islamic calendar – there’s a significant change in the visiting hours for tourists. From Saturday to Thursday, visitors are allowed between 9:00 am and 2:00 pm. The mosque remains closed for tourists on Fridays during the whole month of Ramadan.
How to Reach the Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Mosque can be reached easily by all means of transportation in Abu Dhabi.
The easiest way to reach here is by taxi. You can either ask the hotel reception to call a taxi for you or call the TransAD hotline on 600 535353 to book one by yourself. Taxis can also be booked using the free Abu Dhabi Taxi app available for iOS and Android smartphones. If you happen to be on road, you can hire a taxi by waving your hand.
Another straightforward way is to drive here on your own. The Grand Mosque has plenty of parking space where you can park your car.
To cut the cost, you can also take a bus to the Grand Mosque. Depending on where you’re coming from, the nearest bus stop should be Zayed Sports City. From there, it is about 10 minutes of walk to the mosque.
If you are in Dubai and not planning to stay in Abu Dhabi but still want to visit the Grand Mosque, you can book Abu Dhabi Full-Day Sightseeing Tour from Dubai. In this 8-hour tour, you will be exploring some of the best places in the UAE capital including the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and Emirates Palace.
If you are coming from Dubai in your own car or taxi, you will have to drive for more than an hour on the Sheikh Zayed Road to reach the mosque.
What to Do at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque?
Once you reach the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, you will have to pass through the security check first. You will be asked to remove your belt, wallet, rings, coins, etc. during the process. Your bags will be checked, too.
After you’re done with the security check, you are good to enter the mosque. But before that, you might want to perform ablution. There are separate areas for men and women for the same.
Once you enter the main premise of the mosque, you can take a tour around the place. Experience the beauty of the mosque closely as you walk through the passage.
You can also offer prayer at the mosque depending on the time of your visit. If you’re interested in learning more about Islamic architecture, you can visit the library, too.
Needless to say that Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque is one of the best locations for photography. So don’t forget to take loads of photos while you’re here.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center (SZGMC) offers free guided tours every day. This tour is offered in either Arabic or English language and lasts about 45 minutes.
If you are alone or in a group of up to 7 persons, you can simply arrive 15 minutes before the guided tour time and get in touch with a Visitor Experience Coordinator. A group of 8 people or above must book their guided tour in advance.
If you’re planning to do commercial/professional photo/video shooting, you will need a special permit to do so. Plan accordingly in such case.
In the case of regular visits, about two hours will be sufficient here at the Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi. Oh, and just so you know, there no entry fee.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a religious place and as a visitor, it’s your duty not to harm any sentiments and maintain the modesty.
It should be made sure that you do not wear revealing outfits. This goes out for both men and women who should wear modest clothes while visiting the mosque.
Men should stay away from a tank top, half pant, shorts etc. A shirt and pant should be just fine. Women should refrain from wearing clothes that are too revealing, short, or tight. Your hair should be covered with a cloth, as well.
Upon reaching the mosque in a forbidden attire, you will be asked to wear a tradition robe (abaya) during your visit. It’s just a piece of cloth that covers your body from top to bottom.
As far as your behavior at the mosque is concerned, you should stay away from displaying any form of intimacy. This includes holding hands, hugging, kissing etc.
Remember to remove your shoes when you are entering the prayer hall. Also, control your voice and laughter throughout your visit to maintain the peaceful atmosphere.
One last piece of advice: Do not sit on the floor – especially in the main prayer hall. I know that carpet feels so heavenly but you will be asked to get up.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is definitely one of the best places to visit in the UAE. The dream project of the late founding father of the UAE Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, this huge mosque has been colored plain white to celebrate diversity and peace. I’m sure you will find it hard to keep your eyes (and camera) away from this magnificent piece of architecture.
You can either explore the mosque on your own like I did or opt for a free guided tour which takes place three times a day. This wonderful mosque makes a perfect location for photography. So don’t forget to carry your phone and camera.
That’s it, ladies and gentlemen. This was Parvez and you were reading Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Is Simply the Best Place You Will See in Abu Dhabi on Parvezish.com. I will be back with more posts from my journey soon. Till then, keep wandering!
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Did you visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi? I would love to learn about your experience. Are you planning your visit? Feel free to ask me for any help.