Sheikh Zayed Mosque is one of the largest Mosques in the world and can hold more than 40,000 worshippers and visitors at the same time.
Also known as the ‘Pearl of the Gulf’, this Mosque was designed by architects from Britain, Italy and Emirati, and inspired by designs from Pakistan, Turkey, Morocco and Egypt.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque is located in Abu Dhabi, 129 Kms (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 are staying in Dubai, you can either take a bus or taxi to Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
Dubai to Sheikh Zayed Mosque by bus
Every thirty minutes buses bound for Abu Dhabi leave the Al Ghubaiba bus station in Bur Dubai.
These modern and air-conditioned take about two hours to reach the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
You don’t need to go up to the Abu Dhabi city for the Mosque is 15 KM (9.3 Miles) before you reach the city centre.
Once you get down at the Mosque’s bus station, a quick 10-minute walk will get you to its entrance.
Dubai to Sheikh Zayed Mosque 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.
You can speak to your taxi driver and request them to wait for you while you explore the Mosque.
For the same price, they won’t have any issues driving you back to your hotel in Dubai.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque timings
From Saturday to Thursday Sheikh Zayed Mosque’s opening hours are 9 am to 10 pm.
On Friday, the Mosque stays closed during the morning hours and opens after 4:30 pm.
Mosque timings during Ramadan
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.
Best time to visit Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Any hour is perfect to visit the Mosque, however, to avoid the heat, it is better to visit early in the morning or late in the evening.
Especially during the summer months of May to November.
Like any famous tourist attraction, weekends are slightly more crowded than weekdays.
Best time for photography
If you’re into photography, you must plan your visit at sunset or just before sunset.
The Mosque looks fantastic during the golden hour, as the sun shines off the building.
How long does Sheikh Zayed Mosque take?
Sheikh Zayed Mosque is massive. It covers an area of more than 12 hectares (30 acres).
This massive building offers an abundance of beauty. It is embellished with intricate designs and details both on the inside and outside.
Although you can spend an entire day exploring the Mosque, we think 90 minutes is good enough time to explore it satisfactorily.
On crowded days due to long queues, you may need half an hour more.
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.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque guided tours
We have hand-picked three of the best tours which also include a visit to 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.
1. Abu Dhabi city tour from Dubai (in a small group)
If you are staying in Dubai, this is just the right tour because you don’t have to worry about transportation.
This 8-hour tour of the best of Abu Dhabi is a small group tour. This allows your English speaking guide to provide exclusive service.
During this tour, your guide will help you explore Sheik Zayed Mosque, Emirates Palace (the seven-star luxury hotel), Heritage Village, Museum of Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Corniche, and Marina Mall.
Adult ticket (12+ years): 337 AED (92 USD)
Children ticket (4 to 11 years): 258 AED (73 USD)
2. Abu Dhabi city tour from Dubai
This tour is exactly the same as the previous tour – with pick up from Dubai and drop back to Dubai, visiting Sheik Zayed Mosque and other attractions in Abu Dabhi etc.
The only difference is that this is not a small group tour and as a result, this tour is slightly cheaper.
Adult ticket (11 to 75 years): 176 AED (47 USD)
Children ticket (4 to 10 years): 131 AED (35 USD)
3. Half-day guided city tour of Abu Dhabi
If you are staying in Abu Dhabi or you can manage your own transport from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, this tour is for you.
This 4-hour tour of the city of Abu Dhabi starts off with a visit to Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
Later you spend some time driving around and seeing the breathtaking skyscrapers and luxury hotels.
This is followed up by a visit to the traditional market at Port Zayed and a visit to Heritage Village, a reconstructed desert village.
Adult ticket (11+ years): 172 AED (46 USD)
Children ticket (3 to 10 years): 142 AED (38 USD)
Combo tours in Abu Dhabi
There are numerous combo tours in Abu Dhabi which give you a chance to see more than just the Grand Mosque.
We present below two highly-rated combo tours popular amongst tourists visiting Abu Dhabi.
Note: Combo tours help cut down your costs by 15% to 20%. If you are on a budget holiday, we recommend combination tours and tickets.
1. Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Etihad Towers + transport from Dubai
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.
Adult ticket (12+ years): 296 AED (100 USD)
Child ticket (4 to 11 years): 236 AED (90 USD)
2. Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Ferrari World + transport from Dubai
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.
Adult ticket (10+ years): 865 AED (231 USD)
Children ticket (3 to 9 years): 633 AED (169 USD)
3. Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Muscat: 3-city Middle Eastern tour
If you are in the Middle East for the first time, this is an excellent opportunity to explore three of the regions most tourist-friendly cities.
This 3-day hop on hop off tour is offered by Big Bus travels.
You spend one day in each city, exploring the tourist attractions.
Adult ticket (16+ years): 790 AED (215 USD)
Children ticket (4 to 15 years): 519 AED (140 USD)
Sheikh Zayed Mosque at night
The ‘Pearl of Gulf’ turns magical as soon as the sun sets.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque is open till 10 pm at night, and hence attracts a lot of visitors.
The domes and pillars of the Mosque are lit in magical colours 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 colour every second evening moving from deep blue on no moon night to clean white on full moon night.
Tourists who don’t have time to explore the Mosque at night, drive around it to admire its beauty.
Dress code for Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Apart from being a tourist attraction, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is an active religious place where people come to worship.
This is why, regardless of faith, all visitors must follow the Mosque’s conservative dress code.
While visiting the Mosque, one must not wear pants, shorts or skirts which end above the ankle.
For both men and women, an opaque, loose-fitting outfit is advised.
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 organisers provide ‘Abayas’ free of cost to its female visitors.
All visitors are requested to remove their shoes before entering the Mosque.
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.
1. 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 pushing force behind the changing landscape of Gulf, Sheikh Zayed died in 2004, three years before the Grand Mosque was completed.
On his death, he was buried in a Mausoleum on the North side of the Mosque.
2. The Central Courtyard
Built with the goal of uniting Islamic cultures from around the globe, the Grand Mosque’s one of the 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 civilisation Egyptian, North Africa and Turkian.
3. 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 jewelled with one of the seven giant chandeliers.
The chandelier is held overhead by steel cables and perfectly complements the beauty of the foyer.
4. The Main Prayer Hall
The main prayer hall of the Mosque is a hangar-sized room divided into two for separate sexes. It can hold 10,000 worshipers.
The roof is supported by 96 columns adorned with semi-precious stones.
The room is fully air-conditioned, with the area around every column being conditioned by an AC the size of a mini-bus.
5. Sheikh Zayed Mosque Chandeliers
There are a total of seven grand chandeliers in the Mosque.
They are massive and weigh eight to 12 metric tonnes each.
All of them are supported by steel cables which can hold up to 36 tonnes of weight.
When counted, the seven chandeliers around the mosque hold almost 40 million Swarovski crystals.
The Main Prayer Hall holds the largest of the seven grand chandeliers.
This chandelier is inspired by the date palm tree, which is a standard feature of the region.
The chandelier is made out of stainless steel and brass both bathed with 40 Kg of 24-carat gold.
6. Sheikh Zayed Mosque Carpet
Sheikh Zayed Mosque’s Prayer Hall is lined by the largest carpet in the world.
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.
1,200 artisans worked on the hand-knotted carpet, which when rolled covers 5,700 sqm.
7. 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 fibre-optic lighting.
The semi-circular niche is adorned with 24-carat gold and complements the beauty of the Grand Mosque.
8. Reflective Pools
Around the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, there are many pools lined with reflecting tiles.
These pools are lit at night with a magical floodlight which further enhances the beauty of the Mosque.
The pools are photographed by thousands of visitor every year in hope 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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