Have you ever missed doing something, you always wanted to do, and couldn’t do on your trip? What about the just-in-time situations when you hear “no more slots available,” “why don’t you come tomorrow or day after” etc. etc. How does that feel? Awful right?
I felt exactly same. We were on a 52 hours trip to Dubai and I had this huge list of things I always wanted to do in Dubai. We stayed at our best friends’ house and needless to say, we had a crazy time-out. From having coffee at 4 AM in the morning to enjoying the sun on the sunset beach. We did it all. One thing which stood out on my list was Jumeriah Mosque in Dubai. I am innately fascinated by different cultures and I am always very excited and curious to learn about them. The foundation hosts a tour for Islamic cultural understanding which happens at 10 AM in the morning. This is highly recommended. Click here to find more about the schedule.
The night earlier, I slept dreaming about Jumeriah mosque. And guess what! All my excitement went down the drain when I saw clock slamming straight on my face. It was already over 9 AM. There was no way that we could make it in time given the distance and the time to get ready. Sigh! I was not going to see the morning sun of the next day in Dubai. I was absolutely disheartened and didn’t know what to do.
Shortly thereafter, our hosts proposed to drive down to Abu Dhabi to see the Grand Mosque (90-120 mins drive from Dubai). This was the Ahaa moment for me with my eyes gleaming in anticipation of something even better! Our hosts were the best hosts ever!
About Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a true example of unification of human race to produce a wonderful piece of art. The raw materials (gold, marble, semi-precious stones, wool etc.) and the workers came from different parts of the world, making it a truly global monument! The mosque embodies fusion of Arab, Persian, Mughal and Moorish architecture in a totally un-imaginable way.
What to Wear?
Emiratis & Arabs are conservative, when it comes to religious practices. Hence, an appropriate attire is must. There are 2 options here:
- You can wear anything which covers your body completely (full arm tops/shirts etc and full length jeans/pants etc.). Women also need to carry a scarf to cover their head. It is mandatory and forms an important part of Arabic culture. You will find security professionals coming back and insisting on keeping the head covered. You can then enter into the mosque directly.
- You also have an exciting chance to dress in Abaya/Thwab. Abaya is a cloak worn by Arabic women and Thwab is the Arabic dress for men. Men are only given an option to dress in Thwab if they are wearing shorts. My husband was denied a Thwab, since he was wearing jeans and hence didn’t need one. You will get the Arabic dresses at the Abaya collection center. Enter through the south car park entrance (No. 7) which is on Khaleej Al Arabi side of the mosque. This is the easiest access to the Abaya collection center. Else, you will have to walk through the entire area (10-15 mins walk) to collect Abaya before you can enter the mosque.
Why Do a Guided Tour?
As the name goes, the Mosque is immensely grand. While you can walk around the whole campus, I recommend you do the guided tour which is free for all tourists. The timings for the guided tour and the opening hours of the grand mosque are listed here.
We missed the guided tour by 10 mins. We requested the coordinator if we could join the tour but he was quite strict about it. I was like Aaaargh!! I also tried making a puppy face with the long distance travel story but nothing worked. Do make sure you are reaching 10 mins early. For those like us, who are not able to be make it, there is an option of free audio guided tour. I am not a big fan of audio tours as it takes the emotions away and also limits my ability to satisfy my inquisitive instincts.
We spent about 4 hours at the mosque. I recommend that you reach at around 3 PM so that you can see the best of ‘The Grand Mosque’, both in the day light and at night. During the daytime, the pure white stone shining in the bright sun and the reflections in the pools, is an awe inspiring sight. During the night, the mosque is beautifully lit.
What to See at the Grand Mosque
Check out the highlights which caught my attention and awed me!
East Foyer is a great representation of series of floral patterns, found in the mosque. This type of art is inspired by mother nature, leaves, tree & flowers.
This wall marks the direction of Kaaba in Mecca. The Muslims face this direction, while praying to Allah. This Italian white marble wall is marked with ornamental indentation called Mehrab.
It took almost 3 years for over 1300 knitters to knit this 5600 sq meters of carpet in Iran and then to assemble it in Abu Dhabi. The carpet has 5 circular shaped medallion designs for which the colors have been carefully chosen. I loved how different shades of blue, red & green blend with each other and create this gorgeous looking carpet.
Clock & Prayer Times
There are 10 such clocks in the mosque. These super artistic clocks are specifically designed to show the 5 prayer times that change every day, along with the calendar dates for Hegri & International calendars.
Amaze yourself with the world’s second largest chandelier inside the mosque, studded with millions of Swarovski crystals. It weights over 9 tonnes!!! The trunk of the chandelier has a staircase for the workers to do some maintenance work if needed. The décor of the prayer hall is very well thought of and all the colors of the chandelier compliment the overall decor. The red and green droplets of the chandelier appear to be falling on the floor and converting into splash of blue waters, which are showcased very well on the carpet beneath the chandelier.
While I was sad to have missed Jumeriah Mosque, the end was totally worth it. Travel does bring surprises, and I am glad this happened! 🙂