One of the world’s largest mosques is an emblematic landmark of Abu Dhabi that dazzles with elegant marble domes, jewel-encrusted columns and crystal chandeliers.
Get insights into Islamic and Emirati art, architecture and culture while touring the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This wondrous religious landmark is the biggest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and one of a select few in the country that opens its doors to non-Muslim visitors. Admire opulent decorations as you appreciate the spiritual tranquility and welcoming ambiance of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Unveiled in 2007, the mosque took 11 years to build and features influences from British, Emirati and Italian architects. Designers took inspiration from a combination of Fatimid, Mamluk and Ottoman styles. Occupying about 30 acres (12 hectares), the complex has a capacity for 40,000 visitors and worshippers. Note that the mosque takes its name from the first president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose tomb is located within the grounds.
Marvel at the 82 pure white marble domes that line the roof, each engraved with verses from the Quran. More than 1,000 columns embedded with precious stones frame the arcaded walkways that surround the courtyard. Look up at the 348-foot-tall (106-meter) minarets and watch them and the columns reflect in the blue-tiled pools. In the prayer hall are the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet and three Swarovski crystal-inlaid sparkling chandeliers.
A great way to experience the mosque is on a free guided tour. Learn about its history, significant artistic and architectural aspects and the Islamic civilization. Audioguides in English provide an educational narrative of the complex. Visit at sunset when the sun’s rays cast a romantic light over the marble structures, reflective pools and ornamental gardens.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is open to visitors from Saturday to Thursday as well as Friday afternoon and admission is free. Remember to remove your shoes before entering and wear modest, ankle-length clothing and long sleeves. Borrow a free robe, shirt-dress or headscarf at the main entrance if you arrive unprepared. Photography is allowed; remember to be respectful of worshippers. The mosque is a 15-minute drive from downtown Abu Dhabi and is served by public buses. Use the free parking if you drive.