Abu Dhabi / Middle East

Tips For Visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – A Must See In Abu Dhabi

There is one place you absolutely can’t miss when visiting Abu Dhabi and that’s the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This phenomenal work of architecture and largest place of worship in the UAE is absolutely spell-binding.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Abu Dhabi twice – the first time in 2016 and again in February 2022 – and each time visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has been the highlight of the trip. If you’re planning a visit, here are my (recently updated) top tips.

(This post was originally published in Oct 2016 and has been updated February 2022 to reflect current circumstances.)

Tips for visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Some fascinating fast facts about Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in the UAE and can hold up to 40,000 worshippers and 15,000 visitors.
  • The mosque was commissioned by, and named after, the first president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who passed away before the mosque’s completion. The mausoleum of the late Sheikh Zayed is located beside the mosque on the north side.
  • The mosque’s architects were British, Italian and Emirati who drew inspiration from Muslim architecture from all around the world to create something truly unique. It took more than 3,000 workers from 38 construction companies to build it.
  • My research (googling) hinted that it cost in excess of $500 million to complete.
  • There are seven crystal chandeliers made by Faustig (from Munich, Germany) situated inside the halls and foyers, including the largest ever chandelier to be found in a mosque – it weighs approximately 12 tonnes!

>> Looking for somewhere chic to stay in Abu Dhabi – check out the Abu Dhabi EDITION <<

Tips for visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Tips for visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Tips for visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Tips for visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

When to go

  • Normal visiting hours are from Saturday to Thursday 09:00 am to 10:00 pm (Last admission at 09:30 pm).
  • On Friday Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is open from 09:00am to 12:00pm (Last admission at 11:30 am) and reopens from 3:00 pm. to 10:00 pm (Last admission at 09:30 pm).
  • Visiting hours are different during the holy month of Ramadan. You can find the schedule here.
  • You can join a number of free tours each day on a walk-in basis. Look for the tours point near the mosque’s main entrance.
Tips for visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Where To Get Tickets

  • It is free to visit the mosque but you are required to pre-book an access pass here.
  • Please check the goverment website for any Covid measures that apply. During our visit we were required to display ‘green’ status on the Alhosn app or if the app doesn’t work (it didn’t for me) you can show an internationally approved vaccine certificate and a negative PCR test taken during the 14 days. The COVID-19 PCR must be performed within the UAE.
Tips for visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

What To Wear

I think the most asked question, especially for women, is what to wear to the Grand Mosque. This image from the official website explains it clearly.

What to wear to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Essentially, you are required to dress respectably to visit the mosque – this means long, loose fitting, ankle length trousers or skirts for both men and women and a headscarf for the ladies.

Dress code for women

On my first visit I was able to hire an Abaya from the mosque but this is not currently available. There are a number of both affordable plain abayas (from 50 AED) and beautiful decorative ones available to buy in the visitor centre that you pass through on your way to the mosque. There are also changing rooms and lockers here so you can get changed before or after your visit.

As I didn’t have anything in my wardrobe that matched the dress code I ordered a jersey full length kaftan from Amazon before arriving in Abu Dhabi. I used a scarf to cover my head. The mosque attendant said it was perfect!

What to wear to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
I ordered this maxi kaftan from Amazon to make sure my outfit met the dress code
Tips for visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
I hired an Abaya during my visit in 2016 but you are now required to buy them

Best Time To Visit

I’d read online to visit at dusk (approx 4.30pm depending on time of year) for glorious lighting and this was superb advice. It was magical to see the white minarets against both the sharp blue sky and the soft pink light of sunset. We stayed long enough to see the lights come on and call of prayer ring out and I recommend you time your visit to do the same.

>> See also Top 10 Things To Do In Abu Dhabi  <<

Tips for visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
Tips for visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
Tips for visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
Tips for visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Where to get the best photos of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Sunset at Wahat Al Karama

At the moment there are designated photo points around the mosque where you are allowed to stop and take photos. It was very quiet during our visit so I didn’t mind having to use the fixed photo points, however, it does make it quite hard to get photos that are different to everyone else.

Wahat Al Karama

The best place to get photos of the exterior of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is from Wahat Al Karama – a viewpoint and memorial that offers stunning views of the mosque’s domes and minarets, plus an amphitheatre where you can take a seat and watch sunset over one of the world’s most famous religious buildings.

You can reach Wahat Al Karama via a free shuttle bus from the mosque that runs approximately every 30 minutes. You can also walk there via a pedestrian bridge (approx 15 mins) or take a local taxi. (The minimum fare is 12 AED and local taxis accept cash only.)

Things To Note

  • If you visit during the summer (or end of summer like we did) then it will be exceptionally warm to walk around the outside areas. However, the prayer halls are (impressively) well air-conditioned and there are several water fountains around the mosque that you can take advantage of.
  • The visitor entrance to the mosque takes you via an underground mall where you’ll find cafes, shops, rest rooms and visitor information.
  • And finally, I recommend giving yourself approx 3 hours to travel to and explore the mosque thoroughly. It’s an incredibly large complex to explore and there will be much you will want to photograph and admire. It also takes a fair bit of time to enter the mosque itself – the visitor centre is on the far side of the car park and the underground walkway to the mosque is so long they have moving walkways! There are buggies that can whisk you along this walkway if you have mobility issues.

Have you visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi? What did you think?

Disclosure: My second visit to Abu Dhabi was in collaboration with Visit Abu Dhabi for an Instagram campaign. This post is not part of the project & reflects my own thoughts and opinions.

You may also like:

Abu Dhabi versus Dubai – Which is better for a holiday

Abu Dhabi Stopover Guide 

What to do in Dubai

Pin for later:

About Author

I'm a full time blogger with a passion for travel and interiors. A travel blogger for 12+ years, I took a course on interior styling during the pandemic when travel was not an option. I now run 2 Instagram accounts - @jayneytravels, which covers authentic, affordable luxury escapes and @ourtravelhome which is all about decorating our new build home with a modern rustic style.


  • Christine @ Adventure, Baby!
    October 11, 2016 at 8:11 am

    These photos are overwhelmingly beautiful Jayne.

  • Silke
    October 19, 2016 at 3:45 am

    What an experience, Janey, and beautiful photos to match. Great information regarding opening times and what to wear. This would be my major concerns. It’s good to know you can hire clothes if needed and what you need to bring in order to do so. I have only faint memories of Morocco (I was 6) but I remember the call to prayer of the muezzins and I find it’s one of the sweetest things you can hear when in a Muslim country. Hopefully I will be able to have a closer look at Dubai one day rather than just buzzing through.

  • Janice
    October 25, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    When I was a little girl Jayne, my mum would tell me stories about the Muezzin calling the faithful to prayer and because of her stories, the magic of hearing it for the first time in Dubai, brought my mum with me on a magical journey to this mesmerizing and intriguing land. Where I know in her heart, when alive, she would have loved to visit the Grand Mosque. So thank you for the post and the connection to my childhood! 🙂
    I’m a little different to that – my heart was stolen by the Burj Al Arab the first time I saw it when I was 21, whilst standing on empty golden sandy shores, before the area became built up. Eating a sharwama was also one of my favourite things to do!
    You’ve brought so much back to life…

  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – Odd Beauty
    February 20, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    […] choice when you visit this place. A modest wear is required upon entering for all visitors. Click here or a great tips by Jayne Gorman on the […]

  • Dharmendra Sharma
    November 26, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    Very useful information, thanks ma’am.

  • Agness
    February 2, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Wow Jayne, I was engrossed with this article. So wonderful to learned something about the culture and history of the place.

  • Milva Ligeiro
    March 23, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    Really helpful! Thanks 🙂

  • Icerine
    March 25, 2019 at 6:15 pm

    Hi Jayne, thanks so much for the helpful info. I was a little confused about the available times. Can you clarify the story and end times Sun-Thur as I saw two dashes.

  • Sarah
    May 6, 2019 at 4:58 am

    Thanks a lot for your in-depth review and Tipps! I’ll be traveling to Abu Dhabi this weekend and initially planned to visit on Friday. As Ramadan has started today I am really glad I read your article! I will now plan it for Thursday or Saturday. Won’t be able to see it at sunset though due to Ramadan – so do you think going early in the morning is the best alternative then?

    • Jayne Gorman
      May 6, 2019 at 9:53 am

      I’d say in terms of weather that would be your best choice. It’s beautiful all day really but the less hot it gets the longer you’ll want to explore haha

      • Sarah
        May 13, 2019 at 8:28 am

        I visited this saturday at 9 am and it was totally gorgeous! Quick side note: they did not ask for anything for the gown rental – so I think they have changed their policy on this! 🙂

        • Jayne Gorman
          May 13, 2019 at 1:59 pm

          Ah glad you enjoyed your visit Sarah and thanks for the update on the gown rental.

  • Cassie
    May 8, 2019 at 12:34 am

    This place is exquisite. Beautiful. I am visiting Abu Dhabi end of November, and I have this place on my list to visit. But considering going on a Friday afternoon, 4:30, when it’s hopefully cooler but also catch the gorgeous sunset and array of colours.

  • Tayler
    May 9, 2019 at 9:06 am

    Thanks for all the information, it was really helpful! I’m wanting to go on Saturday during Ramadan, so I would have to go between 9am-2pm because of worship times, right?

  • […] number one thing to do in Abu Dhabi has got to be the Grand Mosque. It is absolutely majestic and unlike any other building you’ve ever seen before. So go, walk […]

  • […] number one thing to do in Abu Dhabi has got to be the Grand Mosque. It is absolutely majestic and unlike any other building you’ve ever seen before. So go, walk […]

  • Tam Tran
    June 4, 2020 at 8:47 pm

    You are such a talented photographer 🙂 Very insightful information about the SZGM. Lucky you visited before the Coronavirus.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.