At the heart of the city, on Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque rises from the ground as Abu Dhabi’s gleaming icon, a spectacular symbol of the heart and soul of the people.
A radiant building of white marble with a beautifully elaborate design, the mosque is the largest in Abu Dhabi and one of the grandest and most impressive structures of its kind in the whole world. Tens of thousands of visitors and worshippers visit here and this is a mosque with a welcoming policy designed to reflect the Islamic message of peace.
Whether you come to pray or respectfully admire the architectural splendour, this is a site full of fabulous detail and contemplative corners.
This is the premier attraction in Abu Dhabi so it’s best to pre-book your visit.
Cultural explorers, history buffs and fact-hungry families who are eager to find out more about Abu Dhabi’s incredible culture during their stay in the UAE’s capital.
The sense of scale and peace, the stunning yet subtle design and the ability to get a real understanding of the spiritual life of the Emiratis.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque can’t fail to take your breath away. Thousands of tonnes of white marble were used to make this striking structure that dominates the Abu Dhabi skyline.
Features and influences from across the Islamic diaspora combine to make this a true architectural wonder. From the courtyard’s vast mosaic to the stately domes, the overall effect is one that wows, while providing a space for contemplation.
There are 82 domes in total, with the largest being the one above the centre of the main prayer hall. They’re clad in white marble with gold-glass mosaic used for the finials at the tip. Moroccan artwork decorates the interior, while verses from the Quran are etched in and overlaid with gold leaf.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque features a carpet that is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest hand-knotted carpet on the planet. Covering 5,700 square metres, it involved the expertise of over 1,200 artisans and had to be made in nine parts that were later weaved together.
The cotton and wool carpet took eight months to design and a year to knot – there are 2.2 billion hand-tied knots in the weave – and weighs 12 tonnes.
The chandeliers are one of the most spectacular aspects of the building’s beautiful interior.
There are seven in total, made by Faustig of Germany, with the one in the main prayer hall being among the world’s largest, weighing in at about 12 tonnes.
The chandeliers incorporate gilded brass and gilded stainless steel elements - using about 40kg of 24-carat gold in the process - while the glass panels are decorated with Swarovski crystals.
In addition to visiting the mosque as either a tourist or worshipper, you can also join a number of excellent hands-on workshops. These activities provide a thorough introduction to the sort of attractive Islamic aesthetics that you’ll have seen throughout the mosque itself.
Choose from creating floral motifs using illumination, Islamic geometry, geometric motifs and mosaic ornamentation. Sessions are led by specialists in subjects such as art, calligraphy and architecture.
The palatial prayer room is one of the most incredible sacred spaces in the world. Not only do worshippers have the beautiful magic carpet underfoot, the walls from floor to ceiling are also decorated in ornate designs. It also hosts the largest chandelier in the mosque, weighing an incredible twelve tones and adorned in glittering Swarovski crystals. The level of detail is enchanting.
The main well is respectfully emblazon with the 99 names of Allah in Arabic, to demonstrate the ultimate sign of devotion. Prayers take place five times per day. At these times the prayer hall is closed to visitors.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque can be found at the entrance to Abu Dhabi City Island, west of the Khor Al Maqta waterfront. It sits between the three bridges – Sheikh Zayed, Maqta and Mussafah – that link the island to the mainland.
Follow Corniche Road and take the E10 (Al Shahama Rd/Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan St). The road takes you all the way to your destination and the journey should take around 20 minutes in total.
Just over a 20-minute drive, head east on the E12 (Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Highway) before driving south and then south-west along the E10 (Sheikh Zayed Road). Take exit E22 for Maqta Bridge/Musaffah and then the exit towards Zayed Sports City/Coast Road.
From the airport, follow the signs for the E20 towards Abu Dhabi/Sweihan/Al Hayer Rd/Al Khaleej Al Arabi St/Arabian Gulf. You’ll cross the Sheikh Zayed Bridge just before arriving.
Parking is free at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Follow the signs to the southern car parking lot.
There is a luggage storage service at the mosque. Talk to a member of security or visitor services staff when you arrive and they’ll be happy to provide assistance with your baggage.
The visitor centre offers a souvenir shop as well as a place to purchase food and beverages.
Visitors who need extra assistance can take club cars from their parking place to the starting point for their guided tour. You can borrow wheelchairs and there are special chairs available in prayer rooms.
Yes, it is free to visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. However, it’s advised to book your visit in advance to get guaranteed entry, especially if you’d like to arrange a guided tour.
The mosque is open from 9am to 10pm every day, except for Friday when it’s closed in the morning for prayers (it re-opens for tourists at 4.30pm). It is also closed to visitors on the first day of two important feasts: Eid al Fitr in May and Eid Al Adha in July.
Visitors should wear loose fitting and conservative clothing to respect the fact this is a religious building. Women will be asked to wear a traditional abaya robe and shayla headscarf before entering the building. These are provided to visitors.
Free guided tours are available every day for individuals and groups. Expert guides will accompany you and tell you about the building itself as well as Islamic culture. Tours last 45-60 minutes and start on the east side of the mosque. Aim to arrive around 15 minutes before your scheduled start time.
This huge complex is home to international and domestic events, covering a range of sports and activities, including the annual Mubadala World Tennis Championships.
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The mosque’s light system uses 22 light towers that change depending on the phases of the moon.
The mosque contains a total of 1,192 pillars.
It took two planes to deliver the huge prayer carpet.
Over 3,000 workers and nearly 40 companies were involved in the construction of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
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All imagery provided by © Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi