About Grand MosqueCrowned as the largest mosque in all of the United Arab Emirates, Grand Mosque or widely known as Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is found in the beautiful city of Abu Dhabi. Built between 1996 and 2007, the mosque is named after the first president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who died in 2004 and was buried in the mosques premise itself.
The building is an enigmatic piece of architectural design with some of it's most exotic features like being decorated with the world's largest carpet (60,570 square feet) and chandelier and the ability to hold more than 40,000 devotees for prayers, makes the place an ideal destination for worshipers. The place is one of the most visited structures in the world and is occupied with visitors all year round.
Masterminded by architect Yousef Abdelky, the construction of the mosque was spread across 12 years and used more than 3,000 workers and 38 other construction companies costing a whopping 2 billion dollars in overall construction cost. Its impeccable design is inspired by various regions and mosques including Alexandrian, Persian and Mughal mosques, Abu Al-Abbas Al-Muris Mosque in Egypt and Badshashi mosque in Lahore, Pakistan.
The Grand Mosque is embedded with a Swarovski Crystal Chandeliers moulded in 24-carat gold,96 interior columns studded with jewels, 1,096 external columns, and 82 domes carved out of white marble. Running along the arcades is a water pool.
The exciting thing about the pool is the arrangement of lights around it. The company Speirs and Major Associates modelled the lights to mirror various phases of the moon making the mosque a dazzling establishment at night. This Mosque has also made its way into the Guinness book of world records with the second largest chandelier and the largest carpet in a mosque.
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Location: Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed St - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates.
Timings: Saturday - Thursday for visitors between 9:00 AM and 10:00 PM
Friday: Closed to tourists but open for Worshipers in the morning, re-opens for tourists after 4:30 PM.
During Ramadan: 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM only and closed all day.
Price: The Grand Mosque is free to enter and requires no ticket. There are several free tour options to choose from.
Places to Visit near Grand Mosque
When at Grand Mosque there are a number of places that can be visited. Here is a comprehensive list:
Saadiyat Beach: Perfect place to enjoy with loved ones. Offers various recreational activities like yoga. windsurfing and sailing. The ticket charges for the beach range from Dh 25 for adults and Dh 15 for kids. The beach is an estimated 27 km from the Mosque.
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Marina Mall: Simply one of the largest malls in all of Abu Dhabi, the Marina Mall is the perfect spot for shopaholics. The bowling alley, movie theatre and a spree of brand stores are just examples of the mall's offerings. The mall is approximately 20kms from the Mosque.
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Ferrari World: The ultimate destination for thrill-seekers, Ferrari World offers more than 37 unique rides designed for people of all demographics. Tickets for Ferrari World range from AED 295 for adults to AED 230 for children. Ferrari world is approximately 19 KM from Grand Mosque and is open between 11:00 AM and 8:00 PM all days.
Khalifa Park: A fun place for family and friends. Activities like train rides and the underwater aquarium can be enjoyed by kids and grown-ups too. Khalifa Park is 8.5 KM from the Grand Mosque and can be visited between 8:00 AM and 11:00 PM.
Emirates Palace: A great place for dining, the hotel offers a variety of cuisine. Emirates Palace is close to 19 KM from the Mosque making it an ideal place for a stay as well.
Warner Bros. Abu Dhabi: The place is everything Warner Brothers. From DC superheroes to supervillains and animation, it is an instant attraction for superhero fans. Warner Bros is 29 KM from the Mosque and entry can cost up to $82 per adult. The park opens at 10:00 AM and rides at 11:00 AM and closes at 8:00 PM.
Giornotte: Another great option to enjoy some delicious delicacies from across the globe along with live dance shows and performances. Gioronotte is not more than 2 KM away from the Grand Mosque.
Things To Do In Grand Mosque
Enrol for a free tour: The Mosque is infinitely large and it's impossible to explore the place entirely without a tour. There are tour services offered from Saturday to Thursday from 11:00 AM onwards, on Friday's the tour starts at 5:00 PM. Also, don't forget to carry your sunglasses because the place can get really hot. To be on the safe side, choose a tour that's either early in the morning or late afternoon. The tour can also help you discover and learn more about the Grand Mosque.
- Pray: If you are a worshiper you can visit the Mosque during prayer hours.
- Enjoy the Beauty: From the chandeliers to the columns, every corner of the Grand Mosque is an attraction. So, make sure to explore every bit of it and take a lot of photos during your visit.
- Enjoy the Sunset: Staying till the end and enjoying the sunset alongside the pool would probably be the best end to the tour. If possible visit the Grand Mosque twice, once during the day and again at night.
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Best Time To Visit:
The place can be visited year-round. There are tours that start as early as 11:00 AM. But the best time during the day is late afternoon as the weather is colder and pleasant.
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There are a certain set of regulations that is essential during your time at the mosque:
- The dress code: It is important that every visitor is dressed appropriately. No shorts for men. Women need to wear something that covers their entire body and a headscarf will be provided at the time of entry. Note: It is no longer mandatory to remove shoes while entering the mosque. In a nutshell, loose clothes are much preferred.
- Kissing and holding hands of your partner are also considered rude at the mosque.
- Taking photos with your partner inside the mosque should not be practised.
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How to reach Grand Mosque from Airport?
The mosque is approximately 19 KM from the Abu Dhabi airport. There are two options to reach the mosque.
Take a direct taxi from the airport to the mosque. If you are staying close to the airport a round trip from taxi can cost anywhere between Dh90 - Dh120. A round trip taxi is always the best option if you are with family and friends.
There are also bus services but it doesn't stop at Grand Mosque, so you'll need to take a bus till Zayed Sports City and a taxi from thereon. The distance between Zayed Sports City and the Grand Mosque is 3.1 KM.
If you are on a quick trip or in transit be sure to check the date and time before leaving. If it's during Ramadan then there would be no point visiting the place as it will be closed.
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Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What is the best time of the day to visit the Grand Mosque?
A. The Grand Mosque is open between 9:00 AM and 10:00 PM. But it can really get hot and humid in the middle of the day. So, the best time to visit the place is either early morning or late afternoon. If you visit after 5:00 PM you can enjoy the beautiful sunset too. It is also important to note that the Mosque is closed for visitors during the Ramadan period and opens very briefly. So, if you are planning a trip to the Grand Mosque, double-check the calendar.
2. When is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque open for visitors?
A. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is open between 9:00 AM and 10:00 PM from Saturday to Thursday for visitors. However, it is closed on Friday and opens for a brief period after 4:30 PM. The Mosque is open during these times all year round except for when it's Ramadan. During this festival, the mosque is closed for general visitors. There are also tour services provided to visitors throughout the day.
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3. What is unique about the Grand Mosque?
A. Starting from the gold moulded chandeliers to the exotic pool alongside the arcade, there is plenty unique about the Grand Tour. But what makes it an attraction for tourists is its design and construction. The Grand Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world and holds the Guinness, book record for the longest carpet and largest chandeliers in a mosque. The place can hold up to 40,000 worshipers at once and is designed with an enigmatic lighting system.
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4. Is the Grand Mosque open on Friday?
A. The Grand Mosque is unfortunately not open on Friday for the visitors but only during the day. It reopens briefly late afternoon, at 4:30 PM and closes again at 10:00 PM. But an ideal time to visit the mosque would be between Saturday and Thursday between 9:00 AM and 10:00 PM.
5. How do you get to the Grand Mosque from Dubai?
A. There are various options available from Dubai to the Grand Mosque. At the top of the list is a city tour. A range of organizations provide Abu Dhabi city tour services, these include a visit to the Grand Mosque too. But, if you don't want to roam around the city you can also take a direct taxi from Dubai to the Grand Mosque. Round trip facility with taxi is also available. If you want to go with the bus service, there are chances that you will need to change a couple of times before you reach the Mosque as no bus stops at the Grand Mosque. A bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi central bus station followed by a taxi to the Grand Mosque should suffice.
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6. Is photography allowed inside the Grand Mosque?
A. Yes, photography is completely allowed at the Grand Mosque but taking pictures with a female is considered rude. Also, you cannot take pictures of worshipers and believers. There are a lot of tantalizing structural designs that you can capture through your camera and while inside you can shoot videos too. So, make sure you carry a camera and take a lot of pictures.
7. What should I wear to the Grand Mosque?
A. The dress code is strict and should be adhered to while visiting the mosque.
- Men cannot wear tank tops or shorts. Clothes that are not transparent and covers the entire body is preferred.
- The same rule applies to women. Women need to wear loose clothes that cover their entire body. A headscarf is additionally provided if not carried.
- No beachwear or swimwear is allowed.
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8. Does the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque conduct guided tours?
Yes, the Mosque provides tours which are always suggested. These tours are free of cost and the timings for the tours are different from general visiting hours.
- 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM all day from Saturday to Thursday.
- 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM on all Friday's.
- 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM, 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM only during Saturday's.
The tour hours are constant year-round except for Ramadan when the Mosque is closed for visitors.
9. Any ID proofs required to visit this place?
A. The mosque requires no kind of identification proof at all. Only when you opt for an audio guide will you need to provide an ID proof as a kind of security which is returned at the end of the tour. If you don't opt for a tour, it is better to take an audio guide. The guide comes in several languages including Arabic, English, Mandarin, French, Japanese, Russian, German, Spanish and Portuguese. The audio guide extends up to 60 minutes explaining various facets of the Grand Mosque.
10. Can I visit the mosque without a guided tour?
Although guided tours are always preferred, you can explore the place solo, there are no restrictions. All you'll need to make sure of is that you are dressed properly and know your way around the place. But, if you don't have a guide there are chances that you don't grasp every detail of the mosque. An audio guide should be your second best option if not guided tour. The audio guide will help you understand the Mosque better and help you discover various insights into its past and present.
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