Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi
The Sheikh Zayed Mosque was a key motivation for me to visit Abu Dhabi last year, and it did not disappoint. I stopped in Abu Dhabi for a long layover on my way to the Philippines and opted to fly with Etihad for this reason. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque was completely captivating – from its sheer size to its incredible craftsmanship!
Quick facts about the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi
- The Mosque opened in 2007, realising the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan’s vision for a beautiful landmark for the city. Sadly the president of the UAE died in 2004 just before the mosque was completed.
- It is the largest mosque in the UAE and one of the largest mosques in the world – more than 40,000 worshippers can pray here at any one time.
- The main prayer hall can host 7,000 worshippers,
- It also has the world’s largest handmade carpet, which weighs 35 tonnes and took 1,200 women two years to make!
- The chandeliers are some of the largest in the world and hold millions of twinkling Swarovski crystals.
- There are 96 marble pillars throughout the main prayer hall, each of which is inlaid with mother of pearl.
- There are 82 domes, 1,000 columns and 4 minarets around the Mosque.
- It was built at a cost of 2.5 billion dirhams!
Having seen pictures of it on Instagram, I felt mesmerised by its beauty and exquisite Islamic architecture and knew I simply had to go. So here, I’ve decided to write up a quick guide and all of my top tips for visiting Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
The mosque is in the heart of the new part of Abu Dhabi.
Most people take public transport to the Mosque. You can take a public bus on the city’s comprehensive service but I would recommend taking a taxi for complete ease, plus it is really inexpensive. Depending on where you’re coming from (airport, city centre or Yas Island), it’s likely to cost between 30 – 70 dirhams. We travelled from the city centre and it was about a 15 minute drive.
If you’ve hired a car, there are ample free parking spaces right beside the mosque.
You can also travel directly from Dubai and most people would recommend hiring a taxi for the drive. It takes about 90 minutes each way and costs about £80-100 for the return journey.
Opening days and times
It’s open everyday of the week from 9am to 10pm except for Friday which is their holy day, only opening for visitors from 4.30pm.
It’s free to enter!
Joining a Tour
I would say a tour is absolutely essential to really understand and learn about the mosque. They last about an hour and take you past the roped off section in the Main Prayer Hall, so you really get to explore.
The meeting point for tours is on the East side of the mosque and it’s cleared signed.
The tours run at regular intervals throughout the day and you can find the most up-to-date times here.
What to Wear Inside the Mosque
The dress code is strict, especially for women. To avoid causing any offence, it’s best to borrow traditional dress which is free of charge. At the entrance, men and women split off briefly to go through scanners etc then women have the option of borrowing an anabaya (long dress) and a shaya (headscarf). It’s long and made of a silky material and helps keep the heat off whilst exploring.
The rules seemed to be much more lenient for men as I saw many walking round in shorts and t-shirts.
Keep ankles covered and you’ll need to constantly re-adjust your headscarf if any hair peeps out.
Are you planning to go to Abu Dhabi soon? I hope this post with all my top tips for visiting Sheikh Zayed Mosque helps in planning your future trips here or at least inspiring you to visit this incredible place! Please also see this post here, listing all the best things to do in Abu Dhabi in one day.
If you’ve already visited, let me know in the comments if you have any more top tips or any feedback! I’d love to hear from you 🙂 x
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