Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Be it for a day or a week, a trip to Abu Dhabi – the capital city of UAE–remain unfinished without traveling to Sheikh Zayed Mosque. In fact, a visit to the country’s largest mosque is a part of just about every sightseeing excursion. So are you curious to know what makes this all-white religious landmark worth a visit? Continue scrolling through this post which is an absolute read for anyone who has this mosque on their Abu Dhabi bucket list.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque – A Place Of Distinct Beauty & Openness

Sheikh Zayed Mosque Abu Dhabi

At its most basic, most people tend to write off a visit here considering it as a mere place of worship. But dig deeper, you’ll realize that this is more than Abu Dhabi’s identity or the UAE’s central religious place of interest. Fondly called the Grand Mosque, it’s an architectural breakthrough where spirituality meets pure white majesty and open-mindedness. As its doors are wide open to people from all walks of religious beliefs, it’s also a place where you’ll get to know the exceptional coalesce between Islamic and other significant world cultures. And this is evident in its architectural features too, which ingeniously fuse the Emirati, Italian, and Turkish elements, among others. Abu Dhabi definitely keeps tourists on their toes with gorgeous landmarks like Qasr Al Hosn Abu Dhabi and Louvre Museum. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is no exception!

Purpose – How Sheikh Zayed Mosque Came To Be?

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s first and late president from 1966 to 2004 (till death), initiated the construction of this mosque with the grand motive to bring together the Islamic world’s cultural diversity and further unite it through inspiring art and architecture. Started its construction in 1996, it took about 11 years for its completion. For more than a decade now, it has been named after the late president and continues to embody the values of compassion, peace and tolerance that emphasize the cornerstones of Islam.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque – Location, How To Reach, What To Wear, Timing, Price & COVID-19 Guidelines


Sheikh Zayed Mosque is strategically nestled amid three key bridges (such as Sheikh Zayed, Mussafah and Maqta bridges) that link Abu Dhabi city to its mainland.

How to reach From Abu Dhabi?

The mosque is about 20 kilometers away from Abu Dhabi International Airport.

  • By Bus

It’s accessible via bus and the nearest bus station is at a 10 minutes walkable distance from the mosque.

  • By Cab

Taxis are available from almost all parts of the city to arrive at the mosque.

How to reach From Dubai?

  • By Bus

Direct buses are available from Al Ghubaiba Bus Station to reach Abu Dhabi and finally the mosque.

  • By Cab

It takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to reach here via cab.

What to wear?

  • Wear modest dresses; women are required to wear a dress that covers their shoulders, arms and legs while men are not permitted to put on shorts or any dress that reveal their knees, shoulders, and tattoo (if any).
  • Women will be asked to wear an abaya and further pair it with a Shayla or headscarf.
  • If you don’t have an abaya or a scarf, don’t stress over it; you’ll get it for free within the mosque grounds.


  • Saturday to Thursday – 9:00 hrs to 22:00 hrs
  • Fridays: 16:30 hrs to 22:00 hrs


The entry here is free.

COVID-19 Guidelines

Along with the adherence to the strict COVID-19 safety measures and social distancing norms, it’s now mandatory to pre-reserve your mosque visit.

Interesting Info About Its Build, Design & Color

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi

Design: Well, each of the artistic elements that comprise jaw-dropping design has been taken from different countries and diverse eras. Take, for instance, its four spires or minarets of various geometric shapes; the first one is a square section that is greatly influenced by the Andalusian and Moroccan styles. The second is the octagon shape that is particularly remarkable for its Mameluke designs. Then there is a cylindrical spire whose design reminisces the Ottoman phase. The design features of Fatimid, Persian and Mughal styles are also prevalent in the mosque architecture. 

Materials: The choicest of natural materials have been used to ensure the long-lasting fineness, finish and inimitability of its overall build. This includes 30 plus varieties of marble stones, ceramics, crystals, gold and precious stones. Interestingly, they have been imported from different parts of the world, such as Austria, China, Egypt, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Pakistan, and Turkey.

Color: One thing that sets apart this mosque is its pure white exteriors which make it an epitome of peace and purity; it’s thanks to the exceptional quality SIVEC marble. Over 10,000 tonnes of marble brought from Macedonia have been used for the purpose.

Dimension and Overall Capacity: The mosque complex spans over a whopping 12 hectares of area, making it one of the world’s largest mosques. More than 3000 workers were roped in for the completion of this Islamic masterpiece, measuring approximately 960 feet by 1350 feet. It can hold more than 40,000 worshippers at any given time. Its main prayer hall alone comes with a capacity of 10,000 people.

What To See& Experience Inside The Rich Mosque?

Here is a list of enlightening highlights of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque that makes it one of the most majestic places to visit in Abu Dhabi:

Domes: A total of 82 domes form one of the mosque’s most astonishing features. The biggest of all domes can be found right in the midst of the main prayer hall. Clad in pure white marble, it’s enhanced by its crown-like design where its finials are finished in golden glass mosaic. Be sure to take a look at the dome’s interior part that comprises breathtaking Moroccan artworks. Add to this the verses from the Holy Quran in its hollow part which is painstakingly coated in gold color.

Ornate Columns: With more than 1,000 columns, each column that graces its exteriors and interiors covered in white marble and wreathed in several semi-precious and pure precious stones like amethyst, jasper, lapis lazuli etc.  The main prayer hall alone is supported by 96 marble columns studded with the mother of pearl. With its design reflecting the date palms, these columns are particularly striking for their golden crowns which however are at the bottom of columns.

The Qibla Wall: It simply denotes the wall that faces the direction of prayers in Makkah. But what makes it special is its rich ornate details where the 99 pious names of Allah are inscribed in Kufic calligraphic script and its floral designs magnificently plumed using fiber-optic lighting. One of its striking features is the golden-glass mosaic Mihrab or Niche which is right in the center of the wall. Its unique winding design depicts the river of honey and milk in heaven.

The Courtyard: Sprawling over 17400 square meters and supported by four minarets (that represent architectural elements from three distinct civilizations), Sahan or courtyard is the vast open area of the mosque which is of indispensable use during Ramadan, Eid Al Fitr, and other significant Islamic occasions. After all, this alone can hold over 30,000 people. As with the mosque’s other segments, this too is extraordinary with its floral and mosaic features.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Carpets: Did you know that Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the prestigious Guinness World Record holder? It’s courtesy to its massive hand-knotted Persian carpet (using Iranian cotton and New Zealand wool) that is laid-out in the main prayer hall. It measures 5700 square meters, weighs 35 tonnes, and is the biggest of its kind in the world. Fascinatingly, it’s the meticulous outcome of the efforts of 1200 artisans and this took an overall of 16 months for its completion.

Chandeliers: Another of the mosque’s breathtaking characteristics is its seven crystal chandeliers. You’ll find the biggest as well as the breathtaking of all in the main prayer hall, which is created using a blend of brass and stainless steel but completely covered with 24- carat gold and enriched by millions of sparkling Swarovski crystals. This alone weighs up to 12 tonnes and is considered the largest of its kind.

Grand Mosque In Abu Dhabi

Lunar Lighting:  One of the most recommended times to visit here is after dusk and this is partly due to its lighting system representing the diverse phases of the moon. Yes, this lighting technique uses bluish-gray colored clouds which are highlighted on the exterior of this white structure. Just as the moon changes its shape in its 14-day cycle, you can expect to see the mosque changing its façade’s color from white to lighter / brighter blue to finally dark blue.

Tourist attraction in Abu Dhabi

Reflective Pools: The strategically placed blue-tiled rectangular pools across the mosque well captures the reflections of columns, arcades and other striking features, making it a sight to behold especially at the night.

Other Impressive Facts And Trivia About The Mosque

  • Sheikh Zayed Mosque was constructed at a whopping cost of about AED 2.5 billion.
  • The mausoleum of the late president, Sheikh Zayed, is within the premise of the mosque.
  • The mosque came third in the TripAdvisor’s list of the world’s 10 landmarks. Interestingly, it’s the youngest landmark to find a place on this prestigious list.
  • It’s one of the world’s few iconic mosques that is open to non-Muslims.
  • It also bagged the Middle East Lighting Design Award 2008 for boasting one of the Middle East’s most high-end lighting techniques.
  • The four minarets of 106 meters high each cater to diverse purposes, with a library, offices, and dedicated sections for cultural programs.
  • The library holds several classic books that are available in a spectrum of languages such as Arabic, English, German, Italian, French and Spanish.
  • Hand-crafted in nine parts in two years and later combined in the mosque, the original length of the carpet in the main prayer hall was 6000 square meters; this was later adjusted to 5700 square meters in order to fit into its floor.
  • The mosque’s daily functions and operations are managed by the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center (SZGMC) which also doubles up as a space of research and learning via its many enlightening cultural programs and activities.

Quick Tips To Visit Sheikh Zayed Mosque

  • This mosque is so vast that you’ll need at least two to three hours to check out its entire span of grounds with loads of intriguing sections and mesmeric features.
  • Expect it to be unbearably hot when you visit here during the summer months. That said, its cool architectural elements like water fountains, along with its utterly air-conditioned interiors, make up for it.
  • You may be aware by now that you’re supposed to wear only a modest dress here. Along with this, come here ready to walk barefoot as footwear is not allowed inside. However, socks are permitted.
  • Make sure that you wear comfortable, breezy cloth beneath your abaya.
  • It’s most recommended to take a guided excursion of this mosque so that your friendly guide will shed light on some of the unknown facts and intriguing stories that make this mosque an extraordinary place of worship.
  • Sunglasses are a must for your daytime visit to the mosque.
  • The mosque is mostly packed during holidays and weekends, so try to visit here during weekdays when it’s least crowded.
  • Although you’re not permitted to carry any food or drinks during your visit here, you can refuel your energy at its refreshment café.


Why is Sheikh Zayed Mosque important?

Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the largest mosque in the UAE and the third-largest in the world. It is an awe-inspiring place of worship, a masterpiece of modern Islamic architecture and the epitome of cultural glory. Holding 41,000 worshippers at a time, the mosque spreads the message of tolerance and stands as the legacy of the founder.

Can non-Muslims visit Sheikh Zayed Mosque?

Yes. Sheikh Zayed Mosque is open to both Muslims and Non-Muslims

What is Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque a symbol of?

Spreading a beautiful message of cultural understanding, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a symbol of peace, love, tolerance and respect. It is built in complete white marble as an illustration of purity.

What’s inside the Grand Mosque?

This colossal architecture features 82 domes, more than 1,000 columns, flower-patterned walls, reflective pools, 24-carat-gold Swarovski chandeliers, an iconic prayer hall and the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet. Don’t miss the beautiful calligraphy inside.

When was the Sheikh Zayed mosque built?

Sheikh Zayed Mosque was completed on 20 December 2007. It took 12 years for this most beautiful mosque to be built.

How do I get into Sheikh Zayed Mosque?

You can get to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque by car, bus or taxi. The mosque is approximately 19 KM from the Abu Dhabi airport and 150 KMS from Dubai. It would be convenient to pick taxis for round trips.

Does it cost to enter Sheikh Zayed Mosque?

No, the entry to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is free.

When is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque open for visitors?

  • Timing of Mosque entry: 9 AM -10 PM
  • On Fridays: 4.30 PM-10 PM

Does the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque conduct guided tours?

There are free guided tours in English and Arabic every hour.

Are children allowed in Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque?

Yes! Children are allowed.

What should I wear to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque?

Visitors should wear decent and full-length clothes in Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The men are asked to wear long trousers and shirts, and women are required to wear hijab and abaya. You can get these clothes at the mosque free of cost.

What were some of the tips to enter the Grand Mosque?

  • Avoid carrying food, cigarettes, chewing gum, alcohol, cosmetics and other such items.
  • Understand better with a private guide tour.
  • On busy days, the entry might take 30 minutes.
  • Take sunglasses and sunscreen to face the heat.
  • Visit during the sunset to take mesmerising pictures.
  • Take off your shoes outside.

What is the etiquette of entering The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque?

  • Follow the conservative, full-length dress code.
  • PDAs such as holding hands are considered rude.
  • Never take pictures with your partner inside the premise.


Sheikh Zayed Mosque, apparently, is one of the world’s most spectacular Islamic architectural gems. So whether you’re devout or just here to make a pilgrimage of its structural splendor, be ready to get stunned by its compelling grandeur, regal interiors, jaw-dropping enormity, and of course lofty tranquility. If you are still looking for what to do in Abu Dhabi, head out to our next guide.

Shaheen Taj is a freelance travel writer by profession. She is particularly fond of traveling and loves to jot down her experiences and cultural diversities of different countries.

  • 3 thoughts on “Travel Guide Inside Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque – Sheikh Zayed Mosque
    1. Avatar for Shaheen Taj

      It is an interesting read. All the pictures look fabulous. I went to Dubai a few years ago for work but couldn’t go to Abu Dhabi. Bookmarking this article for future reference.

    2. Avatar for Shaheen Taj

      The mosque looks magnificent, and it is so large. The pictures look lovely. Thanks for all the information Rayna Tours.

    3. Avatar for Shaheen Taj

      The mosque looks so serene and beautiful Would love to visit it someday. Very nice post!

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