What to See at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: A Global Monument

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.

Sunset View of he Grand Mosque
The Pillars Surrounding the Courtyard
The Outside View of Sheikh Zayed Mosque

What to Wear?

Emiratis & Arabs are conservative, when it comes to religious practices. Hence, an appropriate attire is must. There are 2 options here:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Stack of Quran inside the Mosque

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

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.

East Foyer : I love the reflection in the crystal clear marble

Qibla Wall/Mehrab

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.

Carpet: Intricate Details & Scintillating Choice of Colors

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.

One of the 10 Gorgeous Clocks


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.                                                       Pinterest- Sheikh Zayed Mosque

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! 🙂

56 Comments Add yours

  1. Diidyro says:

    Your pictures are amazing.
    I’m very surprised how beautiful and big this mosque is.
    I liked much the swarovski chandelier.
    Very beautiful this mosque ♡ .

  2. Oh that chandelier though! The mosque is so beautiful, it definitely makes up for sleeping in and missing your trip to the other mosque.

  3. alisonrost says:

    I’m stunned by how beautiful the mosque is. Every detail has been attended to with great care. I’m such a sucker for old churches, but now I’m thinking I need to pay more attention to mosques as well. I’m so glad you touched on protocol for things like what to wear and important times. Thank-you for sharing this truly special place with us, your readers

  4. Nina says:

    I spent a week in the UAE several years ago. I have a friend who lives in Dubai. We definitely took a day trip out to Abu Dhabi and visited this mosque. It is absoultey breath-taking. I remember that wall and the carpeting.

  5. Made Adayasa says:

    What a beautiful place . I love traveling to see a different culture around the world . Wish I can be there one day

  6. OMG !!!! its a bomb Shell !!! your pictures are amazing !! This place is Pure and Beautiful like Heavens

  7. Michelle Paige says:

    Your trip sounds amazing and your photos are beautiful! I wish you had more than 52 hours so I could have indulged a little more. 🙂

    Michelle | She’s Not So Basic

  8. Definitely on my list of places to visit! The photos looks so impressive!

  9. Such a lovely place to visit. I have always dreamed about going but it cost so much. I love that everything is so detail, like the carpet – its just so beautiful. Great post and photos!!

  10. I love that the detail really stands out in the pillars. Also, the culture is so visible in the architecture.

  11. newestintown says:

    Great post! I always thought about going to Dubai but something that always refrains me is the part of what to wear. But I am starting to rethink about it seriously. That is one of the most beautiful mosque I ever seen, it almost looks like the photos are not real but computer made. Incredible! xx

  12. Vlad Vaida says:

    Oh this looks so beautiful and unique! I’ve never visited a mosque and everything you shared is good to know! Thank you!!

  13. soulsensecoaching says:

    Wow, what an exquisite place, the workmanship is superb and everything is just so beautiful. I love Dubai and think it is lovely that you have to respect the culture and dress accordingly when visiting religious places.

  14. this mosque looks amazing and it will be good to pray there if I ever visit that place. thanks for sharing such a good information

  15. This looks like such a beautiful place to visit! Gorgeous!

  16. The Everyday Mom Life says:

    This place looks so beautiful. I would love to see it in person. Thank you for the dressing tips. It’s so important to be culturally sensitive when visiting.

  17. Claire Bear says:

    I love traveling and all the places you went look fab! Love the photos you took, super nice quality. http://www.clairebearblogs.com

  18. The architecture on this mosque is absolutely breathtaking. I would love to visit and experience all the history and culture that is present there.

  19. My sister used to work in Abu Dhabi and she told us of those lovely mosques there. This one sounds grand, I would love to visit a mosque like this in the future!

  20. Jackie says:

    It looks incredible and your pictures are amazing. Must have been great to visit and see in person.

  21. This is stunning! I’m sure I would be feeling very overwhelmed with our two year old daughter there because she runs away with every opportunity. We’ll leave this one for the grown ups! I’d love to visit.

  22. Heather says:

    It does look incredibly beautiful! I love all the design work and the extreme attention to detail – I bet it is a lovely place in person!

  23. The attention to detail is exquisite and that chandelier is so beautiful. It must have been amazing to see the mosque in person.

  24. GlamKaren says:

    Wow – the mosque (architecture and interior) is so incredibly beautiful with the ornate detailing in the decor. I appreciate you sharing the photos with us and your experience inside.

  25. Dubai looks absolutely stunning and elegant. I would love to visit someday.

  26. Wow this mosque looks absolutely stunning and I am so glad that you managed to visit. I would love to go here if I was ever in Dubai x

  27. darmarq says:

    Wow this mosque is so very gorgeous and elegant! I love the detail and the artistic architecture!

  28. Elizabeth O. says:

    It’s beautiful out there and it’s awesome that you were able to tour the whole place. A guided tour does make a lot of sense especially if it’s your first time in the mosque.

  29. Cassie says:

    Your photos are incredible! What an absolutely beautiful mosque! I’d love to see it one day!

  30. The mosque is so majestic it must have cost so much to build it so beautifully. The trip to Dubai really looks like a great one not to miss.

  31. I have family that have lived in Dubai. I love your photography it really captures all the beauty and beautiful architecture .

  32. Robin rue says:

    That mosque is gorgeous!! The biggest mosque in the US is actually in the next town over from me and I keep meaning to stop in and take a tour.

  33. Teresa Laura says:

    Wow! How unbelievable. It almost looks unreal, thats how marvelous it is. So different than the architecture of the US, I love it.

  34. Christina says:

    Wow, these photos are stunning! Dubai looks completely gorgeous! What a lovely trip! Looks like you got to see so much!

  35. rosepetalsinthesea says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. The architecture is stunningly beautiful and practically flawless! – HilLesha

  36. Renée ♥ says:

    I don’t even know where to start – this is stunning. Those pillars, the exterior, the inlaid marble floor – all of it is simply beautiful.

  37. It looks like this is one gorgeous trip. I can’t believe all of the lovely details and colors of the tile. Everything looks serene and peaceful. I’m going to have to add this to my bucket list!

    1. Sona Sethi says:

      Hey Jenna! Yes, definitely. I am confident that this place will leave you with a very happy feeling. 🙂

  38. Roxanne says:

    This is totally UH-mazing!! Wow, so gorgeous! Thank you for bringing that side of the world to me today!

  39. Debra says:

    Oh my word. This is absolutely amazing and gorgeous! I have always wanted to go to Dubai!

  40. Oh my gosh, so incredible! I love the you included cultural requirements as well, such as clothing and head coverings!

  41. tumbleweedsandbigdreams says:

    Wow! What a fabulous place! It looks very beautiful in the pictures. I can’t imagine seeing it in person.

  42. wow this looks like an amazing trip! THe East Foyer is stunningly beautiful!!!

  43. Amber NElson says:

    What an awesome vacation! That architecture is so amazing! Wow!

  44. GlamKaren says:

    That East Foyer is beyond stunning. I mean – wow. You must have almost lost your breath at looking at it. Your photos are incredible and I’m grateful to see this beautiful place through you!

  45. Ashley says:

    Stunning! Your photos are amazing. I have never thought of traveling there but it looks amazing. Thank you for sharing.

  46. Kara says:

    Wow that is amazing. The attention to detail when they built and decorated is so precise.

  47. WOW!!! This place is gorgeous. I would be in such awe of it.

  48. That looks GORGEOUS. We definitely don’t see architecture like that here in the US so I am sure that must really be something to see.

    1. Sona Sethi says:

      hey Robin, Yes! We loved it. It was very elegant and magnanimous.

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