A journey to Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi (plus tips on do’s and dont’s while visiting the place)

Introduction to the monument

We landed in Dubai via Oman Air pretty early into the morning. If you wish to read about that experience, you can click here. Most of the next morning was taking rest due to a lengthy and unnecessary air travel which I will explain in another blog post.

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is about a 45 minutes drive from the Dubai International Airport, it is located at Abu Dhabi which is the capital city of United Arab Emirates.
We went on an afternoon drive with a private vehicle to the mosque. At the time of arrival there were not many people there and we could get parking pretty easily but the fact remains that too in the evening hours getting parking could be a bit troublesome.

There are a lot of people who visit the mosque in the evening and the place gets pretty crowded there. Still there is ample space around the mosque and it never feels very congested.

Features of the mosque

This Mosque can sometimes hold up to more than 41000 people for prayers at any given point of time. This Mosque is well known for its minarets and the architectural beauty it encompasses through its construction.

Built between 1996 and 2007 this mosque was designed by a Syrian architect, and employed about 3000 people and 38 companies to complete the construction.

World’s largest carpet

The carpet in the main prayer hall is supposedly over 60000 square feet in dimension. The carpet itself took around two years to complete and was done by more than 1000 workers.

The world’s third largest chandelier

This Mosque has seven imported chandeliers from Germany including the world’s largest that incorporates millions of Swarovski crystals.

The chandeliers are awe inspiring and people usually slow down to spend some time staring at the beauty of the architecture. At one point in the hall all the three chandeliers can be seen one behind the other.

Highlights about the mosque

The minarets of the mosque and the central courtyard make the mosque an astounding beauty, to look from far away. No matter whichever angle you are looking at it from, you can never seem to get enough of seeing the mosque.

There are wide walkways with small lights on both sides which illuminate the pathway during the night. There is also an area where there are small fountains which make it very nice to see and spend some time around, specifically for kids.

As you enter the main hall there are cupboards and shelves where you can leave your footwear before going inside (socks are permitted). In general most people maintain silence and are busy with photography since photos are allowed within the mosque as an exception.

There are toilets around the mosque and specifically facilities for women are better.

Photographic opportunities

This monument presents a lot of photographic opportunities for the photo enthusiast. The gardens & the fountains lighting the monument with the sky behind, the afternoon and night views of this mosque and a view of the mosque from the highway are some excellent photographic opportunities.
You don’t really need an SLR for enjoying all of this even a mobile camera would suffice. All photos of this mosque in this blog post are taken with the Samsung Galaxy S7, the best in the camera department (until the Google Pixel trumped it)
One can easily spend up to two hours in this environment enjoying the beauty of the place.

Do’s and don’ts while visiting this mosque

It is important to bear in mind some of the regulations before entering his mask so that you are not surprised when you arrive there. This part of the blog post will try to explain as much as possible how to be prepared while going to see this place.

  • [ ] security: since this is a monument of national importance there is a layer of security around the mosque and at the mosque entrance which you need to clear before entering inside. The security will do a baggage scan and also offer the traditional burqahs so that people can cover themselves completely.
  • [ ] it is essential that women are covered from head to toe and as long as you are wearing a dress which is like that it should be okay. Even for Men shorts are NOT permitted and it is preferable that you wear full pants and shirts. It’s not really clear when the people at the security might ask you questions about your dressing but generally if you are fully covered it should be fine.
  • [ ] Women do get all sizes of burqah at security entry point so it is not a big deal to be worried about.
  • [ ] as far as I understood food is not allowed into the mosque so it’s OK to just carry a water bottle or so with yourself and keep the rest of the food in your car for later.
  • [ ] Since the whole visit is going to take less than two hours you are not going to be so tired that you need food very often.
  • [ ] there are no entry fees for getting into this mosque it’s free for everybody.
  • [ ] try to follow the queue system as much as possible where applicable and try to remain silent while going about taking photographs. This whole place is very elegant when it is silent and you should enjoy the beauty in such a situation rather than making noise.
  • [ ] stop by the lawns or the fountains and take some rest by sitting down whereever you feel like nearby.
  • [ ] don’t forget to see the carpet and the Chandeliers, these are most important parts of the inside of the Mosque.
  • [ ] you can leave between 2 and 3 p.m from Dubai so that it’s a good one hour drive to reach the mosque
  • [ ] sometimes the mosque may be crowded so be patient
  • [ ] you will not be allowed to go into the central area of the Courtyard so stay away from there and just follow the pathways. There are plenty of photo Ops even there among the pathways
  • [ ] as far as possible do not touch any part of the monument but just enjoy the beauty while walking past.
  • [ ] inside the main prayer hall it is extremely important for women to keep their head covered and hence they should ensure that the clothing does not fall of the head to avoid reminders from the staff. It is against the religion for women to show the head within the prayer hall so please take care of this and stay clear of this controversy.
  • [ ] it is essential that you keep moving forward from the entrances as there are enough places to stand and take photos from rather than crowd the entrance itself.
  • [ ] finally when you exit the mosque it is likely that lot of people have come in so you need to remember where you put your car in order to find it more easily.
  • [ ] when you exit you are supposed to give back the clothing given by the staff upon entry.
  • [ ] in general when questioned by the staff be courteous and be specific with your answers.
  • [ ] the big bus abu dhabi has a stop here in case you are opting to come by bus so they have you covered for this destination.

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