The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is Abu Dhabi’s must-see, and without a doubt it is one of the most beautiful things to see in the UAE.
As Paris has the Eiffel Tower or Rome the Colosseum, you cannot say that you have visited the Emirates without having seen the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
Why? Because it is of a disarming beauty, difficult to tell in words, and represents one of the most authentic and important cultural landmarks in the history and culture of the Emirates.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is visited by tens of millions of people every year and is recognized as one of the most popular landmarks in the world (according to Tripadvisor), second only to Machu Picchu (located in Peru).
In this short guide I will give you some useful tips for visiting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque from Dubai or Abu Dhabi, as well as some interesting facts that you should know before visiting!
8 interesting facts about the Sheikh Zayed Mosque
- The Sheikh Zayed Mosque was built between 1996 and 2007 at the behest of the late UAE President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. In 2004, Sheikh Zayed died and now rests in a mausoleum in the courtyard of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
- Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is considered the Founding Father of the United Arab Emirates, a visionary leader who believed that nothing was impossible and that he was President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi for over 30 years, until his death.
- The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was designed by the Syrian architect Yousef Abdelky and was built by Italian and Belgian contractors, with the work of over 3000 men. Hundreds of expert craftsmen and precious materials used for the construction come from over 10 different Asian and European countries.
- The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is able to accommodate over 10,000 worshipers in the internal areas and over 31,000 in the external areas and is normally frequented for daily and Friday prayers.
- The architecture of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is inspired by the Persian, and Ottoman style, with strong influences of Indo-Islamic architecture. The minarets are typically Arab while the mosque as a whole is a fusion of Arab, Persian and Moorish elements.
- For the construction of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, very precious marbles originating mainly from Italy and North Macedonia were used. Pure white marbles combine with handmade decorations and mosaics in natural marbles of different colors. The result is a masterpiece of art and beauty.
- The main prayer hall houses the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet, of approximately 5700 sqm. To make it took 2 years and the work of 1200 craftsmen.
- The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has seven 24-carat-gold gilded crystal chandeliers from Germany. The largest weighs 12 tons!
5 useful tips for your visit to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Can I visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque even if I’m not a Muslim?
Yes, the visit to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is allowed to everyone, even non-Muslims. The people of Abu Dhabi are proud to introduce their culture and traditions to people from all over the world.
What is the ticket price for the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque?
Admission to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is free for everyone. It is only required to register for a free ticket and to pass airport-style security checks.
Can I take pictures inside the Sheikh Zayed Mosque?
Yes, photography is allowed! The Sheikh Zayed Mosque attracts photographers from all over the world thanks to its delightful shapes and white glimpses. This is why the mosque is also known as the Abu Dhabi White Mosque.
Are there any guided tours to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque?
Yes, there are free guided tours (called Cultural Tours) that last 30 or 45 minutes. The official guides of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque accompany visitors and passionately explain many details about architecture and customs. Tours take place in English or Arabic and there is usually one tour every hour.
What is the best way to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque from Dubai?
Most of the visitors come to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque from Dubai, this can be easily done because there are day tours that allow you to visit it conveniently.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque is located 129 Km (80 Miles) from Dubai (about 1.5 hours).
How to get to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque from Abu Dhabi
If you are in Abu Dhabi you can reach the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque by taxi, there is a taxi stand near the mosque.
The tour includes pickup and drop-off from your hotel in Abu Dhabi, a professional English-speaking guide and all priority entrance tickets. There are also guides who speak German, Spanish or Italian.
If you prefer to go around independently, the solution for you is the double-decker Hop On Hop Off Bus, which allows you to easily and deeply visit all of Abu Dhabi and stop right in front of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
PRO TIP: If you arrive in Abu Dhabi on a Cruise these tours are perfect for you, because they include pick up and return to the port, they are much more complete than those that offer cruises, and are cheaper! Be smart!
Visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque from Dubai
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque can be easily reached from Dubai, the two cities are well connected and for this reason Abu Dhabi is the perfect destination for a day tour.
From Dubai to Sheikh Zayed Mosque by Bus
Buses depart every 30 minutes from the Al Ghubaiba Bus station in Bur Dubai and reach the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in about 2 hours.
Keep in mind that you will have to go down before arriving in Abu Dhabi, because the mosque is located about 15 km before the city center. From the bus stop to the entrance of the mosque it takes a 10 minute walk.
Guided tours from Dubai to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and Abu Dhabi
Since we are going to Abu Dhabi it is also worth taking a look at what there is to see in Abu Dhabi, right?
You can easily and comfortably visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque with a day tour from Dubai.
If you are only interested in the Sheikh Zayed Mosque you can take a half-day tour that includes pickup and drop-off at your hotel in Dubai and an English-speaking guide. It is very cheap and easy!
Or you can choose to take a full-day tour of Abu Dhabi that allows you to enjoy all the main attractions, including the guided tour of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque of course. You can choose to be accompanied by a guide who speaks the language you prefer from English, German, French, Spanish and Italian.
In my opinion this is the best solution, because you have a guide that allows you to better understand what you see, you can see the most of Abu Dhabi and also admire other beautiful places such as the Qasr Al Watan, the Etihad Towers (includes the observation deck ticket!) and Emirates Palace!
You can hardly see all these things if you decide to go by bus or in other ways.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque Dress Code
Since we are visiting a place of prayer, we need to dress respectfully. The dress code is strictly respected and at the entrance of the Abu Dhabi Mosque (and during the visit) no exceptions are allowed.
Girls, you need to cover your hair with a scarf. Shoulders should also be covered. You can put on a shirt with long sleeves and long, loose-fitting pants.
However don’t worry, at the entrance you can borrow (for free) an Abaya, the traditional dress, which you can put on your clothes.
Guys, you will have to wear long and decent trousers and it is better to wear a shirt with long sleeves. But a polo shirt or a decent t-shirt can also be fine.
Food and drinks (including water) are not allowed inside the mosque (due to the presence of precious carpets).
Sheikh Zayed Mosque Timings
The opening hours for visitors to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque Abu Dhabi are Saturday to Thursday from 9.00 AM to 10.00 PM.
On Friday morning the mosque is closed to visitors (open only for prayers) and reopens to visitors from 4.30 PM to 10.00 PM.