Abu Dhabi prides itself on having one of the most beautiful mosques in the world, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. The mosque is a reason itself to take the drive to see this stunning work of art. I had been seeing this mosque all over social media so I knew I had to feast my eyes on it myself. I was not disappointed.
Some quick facts before you visit:
- The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the third largest mosque in the world and is named after the founder and first President of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
- The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is open to all cultures and religions, even non-Muslims.
- The main idea behind this mosque was to build a place, which combines all the diversity of the Islamic world as well as the modern and historical architectural values of Islam.
- Materials were sourced from many countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Germany, Austria, New Zealand China, India, and Pakistan.
- The feminine design of the Grand Mosque combines Mamluk, Ottoman, and Fatimid architectural styles.
- There are 82 domes, with the largest one located in the center of the main prayer hall.
- Sheikh Zayed Mosque features a unique lighting system designed to reflect the phases of the moon. There are 22 light towers which project soft clouds of a ‘bluish gray’ color on the exterior of the mosque. This light changes according to the moon phase every night.
- More than 3,000 workers from around the world took part on this 2.5 billion dollar project.
- The interior design features decadent floor designs, one large marble floor, and Holy Quaran versus.
- It took nearly 11 years to build the mosque and was built over 30 acres of land.
- The mosque holds the largest carpet in the world, which was made by an Iranian company and the wool came from New Zealand.
- There are seven chandeliers around the mosque all made with Swarovski crystals and the largest chandelier in the world was made by a German company.
Tips for when you visit:
- The mosque is free to enter and you do not need to reserve tickets.Hours : Saturday to Thursday 9am-10pm // Friday 4.30pm-10pm
- The drive from Dubai to Abu Dhabi by car is about 1 hr and 30 min. You may also take a bus, which will take around 2.5 hrs.
- Fight the heat! Visit early morning or late evening. We arrived at the mosque when it opened to avoid the crowds. You will get the best pictures catching sunlight at its prime early morning (daytime photos), or catch photos at dusk in the evening! I have heard duck photos are even more beautiful!
- Understandably, you will need to dress appropriately when you enter the mosque. This means long, loose fitting, ankle length trousers or skirts for both men and women and a headscarf for the ladies. When you arrive women and men are directed into tents where they offer abayas, free of charge, at all different sizes. They are strict with their dress code so I suggest arriving with a positive attitude knowing you will have to wear an abaya.
- You will have to go footless in this mosque due to its pristine white floors. They offer cubby space upon entering the mosque.
- Bring sunglasses, and eat before you visit. There is a Coffee Club at the mosque, where they offer refreshments and free wifi!
- Last, between travel time and visiting the mosque, you should plan to spend about 3 hours total. Do not rush your time here.
Have fun, admire the Sheikh Zayed Mosques’s beauty, and respect the culture!