Located at the entrance of the island of Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a must-see whether you are staying in the capital or in the neighboring city of Dubai. It is, along with the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, one of the most relevant and impressive monuments in the Emirates and is considered one of the most modern mosques in the world.
If you want to know what options you have to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque join me and I'll tell you about it.
An excursion from Dubai in which you will visit the mosque
You will go to Abu Dhabi with a professional guide and visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque while learning all about the Arab world. This six-hour activity will allow you to enjoy the tour and one of the most important architectural and religious monuments of the Emirates.
This is the most convenient and economical option if you are based in Dubai. This tour includes transfer to and from Abu Dhabi and the company of a professional guide. For about 6 hours, you will have the opportunity to learn about the history of this mosque and the architectural and aesthetic features of its more than 20 thousand square meters.
Recommended if... you are sightseeing in Dubai but don't want to miss a visit to one of the most famous temples in the UAE and the world.
Other tours to Sheik Zayed Mosque from Dubai
Although the entrance to the mosque is free, if you are visiting Dubai, the best option to make this visit is to hire an excursion. This way you will save all the logistics of the transfer to and from Abu Dhabi and you will avoid unforeseen problems at the time of entry. In addition, you will be guided by an expert who will help you to enrich the experience and make an in-depth tour. Here are some other options of guided tours from Dubai to visit the mosque:
- Abu Dhabi tour with tickets to Sheik Zayed Mosque, Qasr Al Watan Palace and Etihad Tower: this tour will take you to the most important tourist spots in Abu Dhabi. It lasts about 10 hours, so you will need the whole day. You will go with a small group of about 17 people and together with a specialized guide, you will travel in an exclusive vehicle to the capital of the Emirates.
Upon arrival you will visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the presidential palace Qasr al Watan and the Etihad Towers, an impressive complex of five skyscrapers. Meanwhile, the guide will tell you interesting facts and curiosities, as well as take you to the places where you can take the best pictures. The price of this activity is around 80 €.
- Excursion to Abu Dhabi with tickets to the Sheik Zayed Mosque and the Louvre Museum: this tour of about 9 hours will take you to visit the mosque and no less than the Louvre Museum, which opened its doors in the Arab world in 2017 and today is one of the most visited in the region. Of course, you will be accompanied at all times by a professional guide so you won't miss a thing or have to worry about anything.
The Sheik Zayed Mosque is one of the most important mosques in the world, for its beauty and its more than 20,000 square meters of surface. And the Louvre Museum, is an archiconocido of the art world, which is based in the United Arab Emirates for a few years and where you can see from classic works of Gauguin, as ancient sculptures discovered in Jordan. The price of this tour is about 90 €.
How to get tickets for the Sheik Zayed Mosque
Entrance to the Sheik Zayed Mosque is free, so there is no need to book. When you arrive at the site in the same area where you will access the visit will make security checks and clothing and will give you your tickets.
It is one of the most visited monuments of the Emirates so the influx of people is constant. Especially avoid going on Friday afternoons, and if you can go early in the morning preferably Wednesday and Thursday.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque Opening Hours
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is open to visitors, worshippers and non worshippers, every day of the week. With the only exception that on Friday mornings the visit is restricted to Muslims only, as this is the holy day in the religion of Islam. The opening hours are as follows:
- Every day except Friday: from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm.
- Friday: from 16:30 to 22:00 hours.
- During the month of Ramadan it is only open from Saturday to Thursday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.
The opening hours make it very easy to visit, but if you go to Dubai in July or if you go to Dubai in August and visit Abu Dhabi, I strongly recommend that you go either early in the morning or when the sun starts to set.
How to get to Sheikh Zayed Mosque on your own
If your accommodation is in Dubai and you have a rental car it is very easy to reach the mosque. There are only 130 km separating Dubai from Abu Dhabi and the two cities are connected by a wide highway of up to 7 lanes and you can travel in just 1 hour and 15 minutes. In any case, visiting this mosque is in itself one of the reasons why going to Abu Dhabi is one of the best excursions you can do from Dubai.
You can also choose to take a bus. The trip takes almost 2 hours and you get to the central bus station in Abu Dhabi with a cost of 25 dirhams, 6.50 euros approximately. Personally and if you go to Abu Dhabi from Dubai, I would choose the option of going by car or even cab if you travel several to share expenses. On arrival, finding parking will not be difficult, as the Sheikh Zayed Mosque has a very large and free parking lot.
If you are already in the city of Abu Dhabi the best options to get there are:
- By cab or car: From the city center a cab can cost between 8 and 10 euros depending on traffic.
- Bus: Routes 44, 54 and 163 are the ones that have a stop closer and the trip would cost 3 dirhams, just under one euro. Keep in mind that between traffic and the abundant traffic lights it can take around 1 hour to get from the center of Abu Dhabi.
If you are going to use Google Maps to get to Sheikh Zayed keep in mind that in Abu Dhabi there are three mosques with that name. You will need to search for "Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque"
Since you are traveling from Dubai to Abu Dhabi you will want to make the most of your visit. To do this I share with you the best tours to Abu Dhabi from Dubai.
Are there guided tours of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and are they worth it?
There is the option of official guided tours and they are also free of charge. These guided tours are exclusively in English (at least to date). If for you that is not an impediment is an option to consider. There are many details and architectural curiosities of the building and with a guide you will not miss any of them. The guided tours can be done in this schedule:
- Sunday to Thursday: at 10:00, 11:00 and 17:00.
- Fridays: 17:00 and 19:00 hours.
- Saturdays: at 10:00, 11:00, 14:00, 17:00 and 19:00 hours.
The guided tour lasts about an hour and is very enjoyable. If you choose to do it, come at least 30 minutes before the tour starts. If you want a tip, the best time to do this tour is at 17:00 hours, as you will enter with the mosque illuminated by the sun and at the exit you can see the sunset and if you stay a little the spectacular night illumination of the place.
It is definitely worth it if English is not a problem for you. If not you can always look for an external guide who speaks Spanish.
Recommendations for the visit
Like the vast majority of mosques, this one also has a dress code:
- Men: They must wear long pants and t-shirts that are not strapless.
- Women: They must be fully covered from the waist down (long skirts are allowed, but not tights) and unlike men must wear both arms and hair covered.
I recommend that you arrive prepared and properly dressed to save time. If you are not dressed according to the rules, in the parking lot itself they have an office where they lend you appropriate clothing and where you can change. However, you will be required to leave your ID card or driving license as a deposit. Passports are not accepted in this case.
Who can access the Sheikh Zayed Mosque?
There are no restrictions on access to the temple that affect gender or beliefs. However, you must be aware of the rules of the site and respect them throughout the visit. Both access and exit are different for men and women and you will have to go through a security and dress control.
Rules of conduct at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Once inside you will be able to move freely around the premises, but following the rules of conduct they impose:
- No displays of affection within the enclosure (kissing, hugging or even holding hands are not allowed).
- Women are not allowed to remove their headscarves at any time, not even to take a photo.
- Photographs and video are allowed, but not to Muslim women if they do not give you explicit permission.
They are very strict in this regard and there are several security guards to ensure that these rules are followed.
Is it advisable to go to Sheikh Zayed Mosque with children?
Yes. There is no reason why children should not enjoy the visit. The immensity of the mosque and its striking decorations are sure to capture the attention of the little ones.
However, if you go in summer or on very hot days, be sure to hydrate them well. But do it before entering, as you can not enter with water to avoid damaging the architectural elements. A valid advice for children and also adults of course.
What not to miss at Sheikh Zayed
The 22,000 square meters of the grand mosque can accommodate up to 7,000 worshippers in its prayer hall and up to 40,000 people in total, to give you an idea of the size of the monument. The whole complex can be enjoyed from the outside and from the inside. Both perspectives are worthwhile and catch the attention of any visitor.
- From the outside: Built in white marble and gold details looks spectacular under the intense sunlight of Abu Dhabi. Its numerous domes, a total of 82, of different sizes, stand out. The largest, which you will easily see in the center of the building, is 85 meters high and just over 30 meters wide. All of them are flanked by 4 minarets of 107 meters high. There is a road that surrounds the monument and I advise you to drive around to admire the mosque in all its splendor from different angles.
- From inside: When you enter the interior the first thing you will find is a pool of clear water that reflects the striking columns around it and offer a nice picture. There are a total of 1096 columns between which there is a corridor that gives access to the inner courtyard and provides a nice shade that you will surely appreciate.
- The inner courtyard is one of the most famous sights of the mosque. At its corners rise the 107 meters of minarets and under them a beautiful marble floor and semiprecious stones. We crossed the courtyard and before accessing the interior we must take off our shoes. Inside is the main hall which, in my opinion, is the most spectacular of the visit. Not only the views are amazing, but also the figures. The room is covered with white marble imported from Italy. On the ceiling rest 10 lamps decorated with Swarovski crystals and under our feet a carpet that holds the world record for being the largest in the world with 5627 square meters.
For all these reasons the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is considered one of the most important and beautiful mosques in the world. A visit is a must if you choose the United Arab Emirates as your vacation destination.
How much time do you need to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque?
If you opt for the guided tour option it will take you 1 hour. Since access is free and you can move freely around the site, I recommend that you dedicate, in addition to the guided tour, some extra time to admire the mosque on your own.
Parking is easy, but passing the security and clothing controls will take you a few minutes. So the guided option will take between 1.5 and 2 hours depending on how long you go on your own. If you go on your own you will need a minimum of an hour and a half to see the whole thing properly.
Tips for visiting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque
- Remember the Dubai dress code because it also applies to this mosque: Men should wear long pants and non-strapless shirts. Women should be fully covered including a headscarf.
- Come with the appropriate clothing to save time when entering the mosque.
- If you are not wearing appropriate clothing, remember to bring your ID card or driver's license to leave as a deposit so that they can lend you clothes according to the rules.
- Respect the rules of conduct at all times, as there are several employees watching over it. Do not shout or show affection (kissing, hugging, shaking hands, etc.) inside the mosque.
- You can photograph the place, but make sure that your photos do not show local women without their permission.
- Hydrate yourself well before entering, as liquids cannot be brought inside.
- Remember that Friday is the day of rest in Arab culture so it is only open in the afternoon. I recommend if you can choose to go on Wednesdays or Thursdays, as these are the days with the least amount of visitors.
- Avoid as much as possible the hottest hours.
- In the surroundings of the mosque there are hardly any cafes and restaurants, however, there is a cafeteria inside the mosque as well as toilets and souvenir store.
My advice: do not think about whether it is better Abu Dhabi or Dubai, if you have time and you are going to spend in Dubai 4 days or more travel to the neighboring city to visit this architectural wonder.