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 is the largest place of worship in the UAE and it is absolutely spellbinding.

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 in February 2023.)

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!

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

Tips for visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Opening hours at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

  • 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.

Where To Get Tickets

It is free to visit the mosque but you are required to pre-book an access pass here.

What To Wear

I think the most asked question, especially for women, is what to wear to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. This image from the official website explains the dress code 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

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.

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About the author

I’m Jayne, a travel blogger, content creator and mum. I’ve been blogging since 2010 and share travel guides and tips to help you plan stylish, stress-free trips. I’m passionate about interior design and authentic escapes with a sense of place. I aim to make luxury travel more accessible by showing you exactly where to go.

18 thoughts on “Tips For Visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – A Must See In Abu Dhabi”

  1. 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.

    Reply
  2. 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…

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  3. 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.

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  4. 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?

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    • 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

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      • 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! 🙂

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  5. 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.

    Reply
  6. 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?

    Reply

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