Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Everyday I drive past at least three mosques. Every morning I hear the calls to pray but until last week I lived in my Dubai bubble quite ignorant of the culture and religion surrounding me. A visit to the Dubai or Abu Dhabi mosque is something that everyone should do whilst living or visiting the UAE. My visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was with a group of friends and family including seven children aged between 4 and 12 years old. To reflect the spirit of Islam, a religion of peace, education and tolerance, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is open to visitors of all nationalities.
Unlike other mosques in Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is open daily to visitors, except on Friday morning, which is for worshippers only. The opening hours are 9am to 10pm (last entry at 9.30 pm) – Saturday to Thursday and 4.30pm to 10pm on Fridays. Complimentary one hour guided tours run (Sun-Thurs) at 10am, 11am and 5pm. Friday times are 5pm and 7pm and Saturday 10am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 7pm.
- Modest, conservative, loose fitting clothing; long sleeves, long skirts and trousers
- No transparent (see-through) clothing
- No shorts for men
- No shorts and skirts must be ankle length
- No tight clothing, no swimwear and no beachwear.
- Shoes will be removed before entering the mosque, so we recommend slip off shoes
- Headscarf for ladies is essential (these can be provided when you arrive)
- Intimate behaviour; i.e. holding hands or kissing is not acceptable in a Muslim place of worship
- For safety and respect to worshippers, visitors should stay within the areas of the mosque that are permitted and not roam freely around. Smoking and food are not allowed in the mosque area
On arrival at the mosque all the ladies changed into an abaya. The friendly mosque assistants helped us to cover our heads and we followed our guide into the main courtyard. There is something very elegant and regal about wearing an abaya. As we made our way in to the first pray room I was overwhelmed by the incredible architecture and vibrant colours against the bright white marble. The adults and older children in our group listened carefully to the tour guide. The children were fascinated by the worlds biggest chandelier, and the way the carpet was an exact reflection of the architecture on the ceiling in one of the pray rooms. The marble, shipped in from Italy glistened under the sun. As dusk approached and the sun went down the lights shone around the mosque turning an already intriguing environment into a magical, enchanted picture of religion, culture and grandness.
Whilst in the mosque you are free to roam around the main pray rooms. The only request is not to touch the Holy Quran (Holy Book) and other architectural elements. The architecture internally and externally is incredible; I was however surprised to see a large digital clock on the wall outside the main prayer room. The clock displayed the different prayer times and changed dependant on the sun. One question I will ask during my next visit will be when did they change to digital and how did they display prayer times in the past.
Before you plan your trip to visit the mosque visit, www.visitabudhabi.ae where you will find up to date information on tours and opening times.