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Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

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One of the highlights of visiting Abu Dhabi is visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. You'll be blown away by its sheer size and beauty. I've visited the Grand Mosque countless times, and every time I am in awe.  The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the largest in the UAE and the largest mosque outside of Saudi Arabia. It can hold up to 40,000 worshippers!  

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates, commissioned the mosque, but sadly passed away before completion. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque took ten years to be built.  The mosque takes influence from both classic and modern Islamic architecture, and its beauty is made up of materials brought from all over the world. The chandeliers are from Germany with crystals from Austria, the carpet from Iran with wool from New Zealand, and the marble from Macedonia and Italy. Artictects and designers from all over the world helped to bring Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan's vision to life. 

Getting there

Getting to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is easy if you're staying in Abu Dhabi. Simply hop in a taxi - don't worry, they're super affordable. If you're coming from  Dubai a taxi will typically cost you around 150-250aed each way if you prebook. Otherwise, if you're driving yourself it's very easy to find using GPS, and once you get close, you can't miss it!

If you'd rather take a bus, your best bet is to check out the  Department of Transport - Abu Dhabi and RTA - Dubai Transport sites for up to date information on routes and timings.

You may also take a tour, many tour operators run a day tour to Abu Dhabi, but I've heard they tend to rush you and you really don't have enough time to truly experience the Grand Mosque. Personally, I can spend 2-3 hours easily. On these tours, you'll also get to see other parts of Abu Dhabi, such as the Corniche, Yas Island, and Ferarri World.

Opening Hours & Tours

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is open for free admission every day of the week. Saturday - Thursday, 9 am to 10 pm. The mosque is closed on Friday morning's for visitors but opens at 4:30 pm. This is because Friday is the main prayer day. 
 
Please note: Timings are shorter during Ramadan, opening from 9 am - 1 pm. The mosque is closed completely for visitors on Friday.
 
The mosque offers free tours, which I highly recommend. Everyone is given a headset so you can easily hear. The volunteers giving the tours are so knowledgeable and are more than happy for you to ask any questions about the Mosque and Islam. Another highlight of the tour is that you get special access that regular visitors don't. For example, in more recent years, they no longer let you wander freely in the main building. Instead, you are only allowed access to a roped area. The tour takes you right inside the mosque. To join a tour, simply get there around 15 minutes before the start time and wait at the sign which says guided tour starts here. They're sometimes a little bit late, so just hang around and they'll be there.
 
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Tour Timings
Day Time
Sunday - Thursday10:00 am - 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Friday5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Saturday10:00 am - 11:00 am - 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
I do recommend you visit the official website to check for opening hours and tour timings in case of any changes.

What Time should I Visit?

I highly recommend doing one of the tours as I mentioned above. Personally, I think earlier is better as it's usually less busy. However, the mosque is exceptionally beautiful at sunset, but it does get busy. So, another great option particularly if you're into photography is to visit at 4 am to admire the sunset and then join the 5 pm tour.  In the evenings it's also usually less busy, and you'll get to see the mosque lit up in blue lights. So basically, it's beautiful always, it just depends on if you want to avoid the crowds of people!

What Should I wear?

Men are expected to wear trousers (no rips) and cover their shoulders, so no vests.
 
Women are expected to cover up their ankles and wrists, with no tight-fitting clothing. You'll also need a headscarf to cover up your hair. 
 
For both men and women, shoes don't matter as you'll have to take them off to go inside. 
 
If you're not dressed appropriately, you'll be able to borrow either an Abaya or Kandora (the national clothes). I recommend taking an ID of some sort as sometimes I've been and you've had to leave one as a deposit in order to borrow their clothes. The last time I visited in 2017 they didn't need one but it's better to be safe than sorry! 
 
However, regardless of the fact they do have clothes you can borrow, I do think it's important to be respectful, don't turn up in tiny shorts and a strappy top. It's okay if you don't have the right clothes, but be mindful.
Reflections at Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque The Travel Escape Blog

Have you visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque?

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