The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is definitely one of Abu Dhabi's top tourist attractions. It really is an impressive sight. From the minute it became visible against the Abu Dhabi skyline I was in awe at its beauty. It is simply breathtaking and not surprising it has been ranked 4th in Tripadvisor's Travelers' Choice™ Landmarks for 2015.
Mosque guidelines state that all visitors must be modestly dressed. And while male visitors have a choice of whether to wear a traditional thrawb, women must be completely covered at all times, so our next stop was to collect an abaya to wear for the duration of our visit.
Dressed and ready to explore, we made our way past a series of reflective pools towards the mosque's main courtyard which is surrounded by white marble pillars and stunning archways and boasts one of the world's largest marble mosaics. I would have loved to have spent more time taking in all of the intricate detail of the courtyard but the midday heat was too intense. Perhaps visiting the Grand Mosque in the height of summer wasn't one of our better ideas.
As we made our way through the main prayer hall the Grand Mosque continued to blow us away. Home to one of the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet and what is considered to be one of the world's largest chandeliers, there was no denying that that this mosque's interiors are as equally impressive as it's incredible exteriors.
On this visit our tour was completely self guided but there are free guided tours available daily through the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre. These tours last around 45 minutes and are led by one of the Centre's official SZGMC Tourist Guides ( English and Arabic languages tours available). To find out tour times visit the SZGMC website.
No visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is complete without lunch at the Emirates Palace (or so I've been told). So to round off our road trip we headed there for a bite to eat. This was equally as impressive as the Grand Mosque. I don't think I have ever been inside such a luxurious or glamorous hotel. Read my separate blog post to find out more about my visit to the Emirates Palace.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – Key Facts
- constructed using 100,000+ tons of pure white Greek and Macedonian marble
- home to one of the world’s largest marble mosaic
- roof features 80+ marble domes
- main dome is the largest mosque dome in the world sitting at 85 metres high with a diameter of 32.8 metres
- houses the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet
- burial place of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, first President of the UAE, is located beside the mosque
Location: Abu Dhabi
Opening Times (for tourists):
Sat – Thurs: 9am to 10pm & Friday's: 4:30 pm till 10pm (Last entry is 9.30pm