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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How to Reach Grand Mosque
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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Best Time to Visit Grand Mosque
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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What Not to Miss at Grand Mosque
When at Grand Mosque there are a number of places that can be visited. Here is a comprehensive list:
1. 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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2. 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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3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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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Other Essential Information About Grand Mosque
Food at Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Although outside food is not allowed in the mosque, there are many restaurants in the nearby area that can surely satiate your hunger. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is located in a fully equipped area where you can find almost everything that you wish to eat.
1. Mosaic Restaurant - Al Najda: This is one of the most popular lebaneese restaurant near the mosque. Apart from Lebaneese food they also serve Arabic Grill, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern cuisines and are known for their best customer services.2. The Forgef: if you want to try some European style food in Abu Dhabi, The Forge is the best place to go out and eat. Situated just a kilometer away from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center, this place is famous for its Steakhouse and European style dishes.
Al Jame Library at Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Opened in the year 2010, on the third floor of the northern minaret of Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Al Jame Library is the country's first library to be opened inside a mosque. This library houses thousands of books, references, and periodicals related to some 200 years old Islamic culture, architecture, craftsmanship, science and a lot more that one likes to read.
They also have some scientific research and paperworks for those who have keen interest in the same field. This library falls under one of the top international learning focused on Islamic civilisations as perceived and documented by world cultures. Books that are here are constantly increasing and being arranged in the shelves for people to spend more time knowing about their culture.
Tips for Visiting Sheikh Zayed Mosque
- You might find the whole entry process a tad bit complex and hence, it is advisable to know everything beforehand to save time. On days when there is rush, it might take you nearly 30 mins to get inside the mosque.
- Although you get free guided tours, if you are looking for a better exploration, hire a private guide who can help you better.
- Items such as food, cosmetics, lighters, extra batteries, high zoom tools, cigarettes, telescopes, chewing gum, and alcohol drinks are prohibited inside the mosque.
- Take sunglasses and sunscreen with you to avoid excessive heat.
- You have to take your shoes outside and walk barefoot.
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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