Spread across an expanse of over 30 acres, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque Abu Dhabi is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates, in addition to being one of the largest in the whole world. Built between 1996 and 2007, the mosque is named after the first president of the UAE, and is often regarded as the White Pearl of the Gulf. Boasting of an extraordinary design and architecture, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi is home to beautiful clear pools, stunning onion-top domes, as well as the world’s largest carpet, among other features.
With a capacity to hold more than 40,000 devotees at a single time, this mosque is one of the most visited places not just in the UAE, but also in the world. It has a design that takes inspiration from different regions of the globe, along with Mughal, Persian and Alexandrian mosques. Embedded with Swarovski crystal chandeliers, jewel-studded columns and made entirely of exquisite white marble, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque Abu Dhabi is surely a sight to behold.
About An architectural masterpiece, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi beautifully combines Islamic design with architecture. The design of the mosque includes a variety of aspects, which were inspired by mosques from Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Morocco and a plethora of other Islamic countries. The 82 domes of the mosque are made of pure white marble, and decked with gold mosaic designs, while the 96 pillars inside the main prayer hall are made of the mother of pearl. The entire courtyard of the mosque has white marble tiles with stunning floral designs.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has a total of 82 domes, which are some of the most beautiful features of the mosque. There are seven different sizes of the domes, all of which are onion-top, and take inspiration from Pakistan’s Badshahi Mosque. These domes are made of pure white marble, and are enhanced by a crown-like design with gold mosaic detailing. The inner side of the domes are also etched with verses from the Quran and painted with gold leaves.
The entire mosque has a pure white colour, which is amongst its most distinguishing features, and sets it apart from other iconic landmarks in Abu Dhabi. This is due to the fact that the mosque is made entirely out of white marble, both internally and externally.
The Qibla Wall is one of the main attractions of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Also known as The Wall of Allah, the Qibla Wall faces Mecca inside the mosque, and is engraved with 99 names of Allah, in the Kufic script. The calligraphic work is also illuminated with fibre optic lighting from the back, which highlights the names, while the semi-circular niche is decorated with 24-carat gold stripes.
The mosque has a unique lighting system, which is designed in a way such that it reflects the different phases of the moon. There are 22 light towers inside the mosque, which consist of different light projectors that offer these lunar illustrations onto the white marble exteriors of the mosque, including on the domes and the mosque facade.
The main prayer hall of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is home to the largest hand-knotted Persian carpet in the whole world, which measures 5,700 square metres and weighs 35 tonnes. Designed by Dr. Ali Khaliqi of Iran, the carpet has an intricate Islamic medallion design, which was hand-crafted by around 1,200 artisans and was made of wool from New Zealand.
Also known as the Menbar, the Pulpit is located on the right side of the mosque. The Pulpit has floral as well as shell designs, all of which are made of carved cedar wood and then decorated with white gold, glass mosaic and the mother of pearl.
You can find 7 stunning chandeliers inside the Mosque, the largest and grandest of which is located inside the main prayer hall. This chandelier is also one of the largest chandeliers in the whole world, and is made of brass and stainless steel. Additionally, this chandelier is also covered with 24-carat gold and embellished with red and green crystal balls and millions of Swarovski crystals.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has 4 minarets, each of which has a height of around 106 metres. Exuding the typical feature of classic Islamic architecture, these minarets are made of three different geometrical shapes.
You can find stunning blue-tiled rectangular pools across the mosque, which offer the reflections of the different features of the mosque and tend to glow under the floodlights at night. These pools are some of the most famous attractions of the mosque, and are regularly featured in the yearly Spaces of Light photography competition.
There are internal as well as external columns in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The arcades of the mosque are surrounded by 1,096 columns, all of which are made of white marble panels, and decorated with precious stones like red agate, amethyst, lapis lazuli, etc. The external columns of the mosque have a design inspired from the date palm trees.
There are regular exhibitions organised at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque Abu Dhabi. These exhibitions predominantly have beautiful displays and exhibits of traditional Islamic arts. Additionally, you can also find exhibits of calligraphy, and other artefacts that showcase the artistic heritage of Islamic civilisation at the exhibitions held here. Quite a number of exhibitions organised at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque also help visitors gain an in-depth insight into the architectural significance of this mosque as well. From learning about the history of Islamic art in different regions of the world, to seeing various scripts of Arabic calligraphy, artistic photos of the mosque and its features and other displays, the exhibitions held inside the museum are some of its most popular attractions.
At the mosque, you can also learn a lot whilst enjoying a wide array of different youth activities. The mosque centre organises several activities and events which help you to learn about the region’s rich culture and heritage. Some of the most famous youth activities here include the Cultural Guidance Training Program, or the Ibn Al-Dar, where you can help to guide groups of visitors during cultural tours inside the mosque. Then, you can also take part in the Junior Culture Guide Program, which lets you organise the tours inside the mosque, and give you a practical experience of being cultural tour guides. These youth activities are perfect to develop your skills, knowledge and abilities.
Some of the best things to do at the mosque include attending the different workshops that are organised here. Through these workshops, you can not only learn about the aesthetics and intricacies of Islamic art and architecture, but also showcase your own creativity. Designed for different age groups and sections of people, these workshops typically include drawing, sculpture making, Arabic calligraphy and other forms of art, not just from the UAE, but also from other parts of the world.
You can also enjoy a wide range of different recreational facilities at the Grand Mosque Walkway during your visit. Said to be one of the best and most significant facilities inside the mosque, the walkway offers visitors a chance to indulge in various outdoor sports, whilst also enjoying the beautiful views of the mosque and the surrounding greenery and landscapes. The Grand Mosque Walkway boasts of several cafes and restaurants where visitors can relax and enjoy a delicious meal and drinks. It also has a huge cultural and architectural centre, along with a three-kilometre-long walking track, flanked by dozens of palm trees and other species of plants and trees.
When visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, you can get your fill of knowledge by visiting the Mosque Library, which was opened in 2010 and houses thousands of books and reading material with focus of Islamic civilization and other things. Located at the visitor centre, the library also has a state-of-the-art media source, from visual and audio material, to journals, theses and more.
Free cultural tours are organised on a regular basis by the authorities of the mosque centre, and offer visitors a chance to indulge in an educational, cocktail and interactive experience. In addition to learning about the cultural role of the mosque in promoting the tolerance and co-existence of Islam with other religions, you can also learn about the mosque’s history and construction. These cultural tours also offer you a chance to find more information about elements of Islamic art, culture, traditions and architecture. A cultural tour of the museum typically ranges between 30 to 45 minutes.
Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque Abu Dhabi is during early morning, or late afternoon. These are the times of the day when the weather here is pleasant, which can be helpful while you explore the mosque.
Location & Opening Hours: Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street، - 5th St - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates The Mosque is open between 09:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. from Saturdays to Thursdays, and between 04:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Fridays. It is closed for tourists on Friday mornings.
Dress Code: Visitors are required to maintain a proper dress code; shoulders, knees and midriff should always be covered, and shoes must be removed at the entry gate of the mosque. Additionally, women must wear Abayas during their visit, which are provided at the mosque premises for no extra charge.
Accessibilities The mosque is completely accessible for visitors with disabilities, including having ramps for those in wheelchairs.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is special for being one of the largest mosques in the whole world, in addition to being the largest in all of UAE. It is known for holding the Guinness Book Record for having the largest hand-knotted carpet and one of the largest chandeliers in a mosque.
While visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, visitors must adhere to the strict dress code here, which states that your clothes should not be transparent and must cover the entire body. Additionally, women are also required to wear headscarves and abayas when they are inside the mosque.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at night is nothing short of spectacular. The reflective pools, located along the courtyard offer stunning reflections of the structure of the mosque against the night sky. The unique lighting system here also displays the stunning phases of the moon in varying intensities on the exterior walls of the mosque.
The colour of the mosque, under the lighting system, gradually changes every two days, from a stunning pearl white, to a serene blue colour, which becomes deeper as the moon enters its waning phase. On the 14th night of the cycle, the mosque becomes the deepest blue colour, which signifies the “no moon” phase.
Yes, photography is allowed in the Sheikh Zayed Museum. However, taking photographs with female visitors, or of worshippers praying here, is prohibited and considered rude.