Sheikh Zayed Mosque – timings, guided tours, dress code, what to see

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Sheikh Zayed Mosque is one of the largest Mosques globally and can hold more than 40,000 worshippers and visitors at the same time.

Architects from Britain, Italy, and Emirates worked on it, and they sought designs from Pakistan, Turkey, Morocco, and Egypt for inspiration.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque is also known as the ‘Pearl of the Gulf’ and is in Abu Dhabi, 129 km (80 miles) from Dubai.

In this article, we explain everything you need to know before you visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

How to reach Sheikh Zayed Mosque

If you are staying in Abu Dhabi, we suggest you take a taxi to reach the Mosque.

The Mosque is 15 KM (9.3 Miles) from Abu Dhabi city, and a quick 12-minute taxi ride can get you there.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque from Dubai

Although the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is located 129 Kms (80 Miles) from Dubai, most tourists visiting Dubai add it to their itinerary because of the excellent connectivity.

If you stay in Dubai, you can either take a bus or taxi to Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Get Directions

By bus

Every thirty minutes, buses bound for Abu Dhabi leave the Al Ghubaiba bus station in Bur Dubai.

These modern and air-conditioned buses take about two hours to reach the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

You don’t need to go up to Abu Dhabi city because the Mosque is 15 Kms (9.3 Miles) before the city center.

Once you get down at the Mosque’s bus station, a quick 10-minute walk will get you to its entrance.

By taxi

If you can afford it, it is better to take a taxi to the Mosque.

A taxi covers the distance in around 90 minutes, so you save a half-hour of your precious time.

However, it is a bit of a costly option and will cost you 45 to 50 USD (165 AED to 185 AED) each way.

Taxi drivers don’t mind waiting even as you you explore the Mosque.

Note: If you don’t want the hassle of arranging your transport, you can book a half-day tour or a full-day tour of the Mosque, which would include transportation.


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Sheikh Zayed Mosque timings

From Saturday to Thursday, Sheikh Zayed Mosque is open from 9 am to 10 pm.

On Friday, the Mosque stays closed during the morning hours and opens after 4:30 pm.

During the month of Ramadan, Sheikh Zayed Mosque opens at 9 am and closes at 2 pm.

When Ramadan is going on, the Mosque stays closed on Fridays.


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Best time to visit Sheikh Zayed Mosque

The best time to visit Sheikh Zayed Mosque is as soon as they open at 9 am, or later in the evening during sunset.

This will help you avoid the heat, especially during the summer months of May to November.

During sunset, the Abu Dabhi Mosque looks stunning.

The splendor of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque never fails to wow. Image: Goodfon.com

Like any popular tourist attraction, weekends are slightly more crowded than weekdays.

Best time for photography

If you want to take lots of photographs of Sheikh Zayed Mosque, plan your visit at sunset or just before sunset.

The Mosque looks fantastic during the golden hour, as the sun shines off the building.


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How long does Sheikh Zayed Mosque take

Most visitors take 90 minutes to two hours to explore Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

Guided tours of the mosque last 60 minutes, after which you can hang around for another 30 to 60 minutes exploring the intricate designs and details.

On crowded days due to long queues, you may need half an hour more.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque is massive, covering more than 12 hectares (30 acres), so plan accordingly.


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Cost of Sheikh Zayed Mosque tickets

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque, often known as the white beauty of the Gulf, is free for all visitors.

Yes, that’s right. You don’t need to buy any tickets to enter.

However, seeing the Mosque by yourself is not advisable. Then it just ends up being a beautifully constructed building.

Each of the walls of the Mosque has a story, each design an anecdote.

To make your trip memorable, we suggest you take a guided tour of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.


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Sheikh Zayed Mosque guided tours

We have hand-picked two of the best guided tours to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

All of the tour tickets come with 24 hours cancellation policy. You can cancel 24 hours before your visit and get a full refund.

On all these tours, kids three years and below can join for free.

Abu Dhabi city tour from Dubai

If you are staying in Dubai, this is a perfect tour because you don’t have to worry about transportation.

This tour comes with pickup from and drop-off at your hotel in Dubai.

This 9-hour tour of the best of Abu Dhabi is a small group tour, and you get exclusive service from your English-speaking guide.

During this tour in an air-conditioned vehicle, your guide will help you see/explore:

  • Sheikh Zayed Mosque
  • Observation Deck of Etihad Towers
  • Qasr Al Watan
  • Emirates Palace (7-star hotel)
  • Abu Dhabi Corniche
  • Marina Mall

Ticket Prices

Adult ticket (12+ years): 337 AED (92 USD)
Child ticket (4 to 11 years): 258 AED (73 USD)

Half-day guided tour of Abu Dhabi

If you are staying in Abu Dhabi or can manage your transport from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, this tour is for you.

This 4-hour tour of the city of Abu Dhabi starts with a visit to Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

Later you spend some time driving around and seeing the breathtaking skyscrapers and luxury hotels.

Once you have explored the modern-day constructions, you check out the traditional market at Port Zayed and the Heritage Village, a reconstructed desert village.

Ticket Prices

Adult ticket (11+ years): 172 AED (46 USD)
Children ticket (3 to 10 years): 142 AED (38 USD)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque + Etihad Towers

After you get picked up from your hotel in Dubai, the first stop is the Mosque.

Later you see scenic views of the Arabian Gulf while strolling at Abu Dhabi Corniche. You then explore the old Emirati village at the Heritage Village.

A visit to the Marina mall is followed by a lunch break, after which you visit the observation deck of Etihad Towers (on the 74th floor!).

After you have had your fill of the Abu Dhabi skyline, you get back to Dubai.

Ticket Prices

Adult ticket (12+ years): 330 AED (90 USD)
Child ticket (4 to 11 years): 275 AED (75 USD)

Grand Mosque + Louvre Museum

This tour starts from Dubai in an air-conditioned vehicle, and you get to see two of the country’s crowning attractions – the Louvre Museum & the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

First, you see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and then drive to Louvre Museum located in Saadiyat Island.

At Louvre, you admire both classic and modern works of cultural and sociological significance from all over the world for two hours before driving back to Dubai.

An English-speaking guide is with you all through the 9-hour long guided tour.

Ticket Prices

Adult ticket (22+ years): 315 AED (85 USD)
Youth ticket (13 to 21 years): 269 AED (73 USD)
Child ticket (4 to 12 years): 144 AED (39 USD)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque + Ferrari World

In a way, this tour can even be called the ‘Highlights of Abu Dhabi’ tour.

After getting picked up from Dubai, you first explore the Mosque, Emirates Palace and the Heritage Village.

After a quick lunch break, you start your second part of the day at the largest indoor theme park in the world – the Ferrari World.

Once you have had your share of adrenalin rush inside the World of Ferrari, you head back to Dubai.

Ticket Prices

Adult ticket (10+ years): 865 AED (235 USD)
Children ticket (3 to 9 years): 500 AED (135 USD)


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Sheikh Zayed Mosque at night

The ‘Pearl of Gulf’ is magical both during sunset and after it gets dark.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque is open till 10 pm, and hence attracts a lot of visitors after dark.

The domes and pillars of the Mosque get lit in magical colors depicting the lunar cycle.

The Mosque is enveloped in cold white light on the full moon evening and is washed with a blue light on no-moon evenings.

One can notice seven subtle shifts in color every second evening, moving from deep blue on no moon night to clean white on full moon night.

Visitors who can’t visit the Grand Mosque at night decide to drive by and enjoy its beauty.


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Dress code for Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Apart from being a tourist attraction, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is an active religious place where people worship.

That’s why, regardless of faith, all visitors must follow the Mosque’s conservative dress code.

Men must not reveal any flesh above their knees and must cover their shoulders.

While visiting the Mosque, women must not wear pants, shorts, or skirts that end above the ankle.

Female visitors must cover their head and hair with a headscarf.

If you land up at the Mosque without adhering to the dress code, don’t worry.

The organizers provide ‘Abayas’ free of cost to its female visitors. However, no clothes are provided to the men.

All visitors are requested to remove their shoes before entering the Mosque.


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What to see at Sheikh Zayed Mosque?

Although the fairy-tale structure catches your eye the moment you step in, there are certain must-sees you can’t miss.

Sheikh Zayed’s Mausoleum

The Mosque is named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who was well known for uniting the Emirates and forming what is now known as the United Arab Emirates.

Known as the pushing force behind the changing landscape of the Gulf, Sheikh Zayed died in 2004. Three years later, Grand Mosque got completed.

He lays buried in a Mausoleum on the Northside of the Mosque.

The Central Courtyard

The Grand Mosque’s dominating feature is its central courtyard.

The gleaming white courtyard lined by the reflecting pools was inspired by Pakistan’s Badshahi Mosque and Morocco’s Hassan II Mosque.

Standing in the middle of the courtyard, you can view the architectural marvels of the Mosque borrowed from different countries and cultures.

The courtyard alone can hold 30,000 believers and is guarded by four 107 Meters (351 feet) high minarets inspired by three different civilizations Egyptian, North Africa, and Turkian.

The Foyer

While entering the Foyer, one must adhere to the Mosque’s dress code.

The Foyer has an onion top dome with a verse of Koran calligraphed around it.

Each letter of the verse is painted with a gold leaf and is written in a popular style called An-Naskh.

Apart from the gold calligraphy, the Foyer is also jeweled with one of the seven giant chandeliers.

The chandelier is held overhead by steel cables and complements the beauty of the Foyer.

Main Prayer Hall

The main prayer hall of the Mosque is a hangar-sized room divided into two for separate genders. It can hold 10,000 worshipers.

Ninty six columns adorned with semi-precious stones support the roof.

The room is fully air-conditioned, with the area around every column being conditioned by an AC the size of a mini-bus.

Chandeliers

Sheikh Zayed Mosque has a total of seven grand chandeliers, each weighing eight to 12 metric tonnes.

Steel cables that can hold up to 36 tonnes of weight support each chandelier.

Together, the seven chandeliers in the Grand Mosque hold almost 40 million Swarovski crystals.

The grand chandelier in the Main Prayer Hall of Sheikh Zayed Mosque is 10 meters (32 feet) in diameter and 15 meters (49 feet) tall.

The grand chandelier in the Main Prayer Hall of Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Image: Wondermondo.com

At a weight of 9 tonnes, it is one of the heaviest Chandeliers in the World.

This chandelier is inspired by the date palm tree, which is a standard feature of the region.

The chandelier in Main Prayer Hall is made out of stainless steel and brass, bathed with 40 Kg of 24-carat gold.

World’s largest carpet

The largest carpet in the world lines Sheikh Zayed Mosque’s Prayer Hall.

It is made primarily by the wool imported from New Zealand and took 16 months to weave.

The carpet, made by a third-generation carpet master from Iran, was delivered in nine pieces in two jumbo jets.

One thousand two hundred artisans worked on the hand-knotted carpet, which, when unrolled, covers 5,700 sqm.

Wall of Allah

The Qibla wall facing Mecca is engraved with 99 names that Muslims attribute to God in Arabic calligraphy.

The engravings are highlighted by subtle fiber-optic lighting.

The semi-circular niche is adorned with 24-carat gold and complements the beauty of the Grand Mosque.

Reflective Pools

Around the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, there are many pools lined with reflecting tiles.

These pools get lit at night with a magical floodlight which further enhances the beauty of the Mosque.

The pools are photographed by thousands of visitors every year to win the Spaces of Light photo completion.

The calm waters of these pools match perfectly with the peaceful environment of the Mosque itself.

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Uplabdhi Kamboj: She believes that the world is full of must-see places and must-do adventures, and has a never-ending list of places she wants to visit. Driven by a passion for the outdoors, she connects better with nature, and wildlife more than Museums and monuments. Favorite Cities: Cape Town, Kathmandu, Hanoi, Reykjavik, Vienna

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