If you find yourself in the United Arab Emirates then a visit to Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque – Sheikh Zayed is a must because it’s certainly the Grandest Mosque I’ve ever seen and to be honest it’s worth planning a trip to the UAE just to see it! I visited the Sheikh Zayed Mosque whilst I was in Dubai so here are 9 tips and pieces of information to help you plan your visit and know what to expect when you arrive.
1. GETTING TO SHEIKH ZAYED GRAND MOSQUE
If you’re staying in Abu Dhabi you’ll find it very easy to get to the Sheik Zayed Mosque by taxi, however, if you’re staying in Dubai which is 150km away then do not let this put you off going!
When I was researching how to get to the Mosque from Dubai there appeared to be a bus that goes from Dubai bus station to Abu Dhabi bus station, however I couldn’t find much information on it and it would have involved getting 4 taxi’s either side of the bus so in the end my friend and I decided to get a taxi for the whole journey.
It took about 90 minutes each way and cost 250-275 AED (see current exchange rate) each way. Our taxi driver from Dubai had no issues with taking us there and there were taxis waiting outside of the Mosque when we finished who had no issues with taking us back to Dubai either and I can imagine they’re very used to it.
Best Accommodation Near The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque:
2. HAVE BREAKFAST BEFORE YOU GO
Again, when I was first researching how to get to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and what we would do I thought we could get a coffee from somewhere before or after we visited or take a walk and see more of Abu Dhabi.
On the map, there is some greenery and water nearby, but once there we realised it didn’t feel like a very walkable area due to the many big roads so we ended up heading back to Dubai as soon as we finished. However, looking at the map now it seems like there’s a Coffee Club across the road so you may well be able to get a coffee now!
3. IT’S FREE TO ENTER THE SHEIKH ZAYED MOSQUE
Unlike many tourist attractions, it’s completely free to enter so there is no reason to miss this beautiful mosque when you are in UAE! There are also free guided tours which last about 45-60 minutes (see below for more information).
Related Post: A Complete Guide To Visiting Abu Dhabi
4. SHEIKH ZAYED MOSQUE OPENING TIMES
Opening times are 9:00am-22:00 Saturday-Thursday and 16:30-22:00 on Fridays. As with many destinations, it’s worth visiting during the week to avoid crowds. But as you can see from the pictures the scale of the mosque, compared to the size of its visitors means you will not feel crowded there.
You’ll probably know if you’re in the UAE during Ramadan and if you are, note that the opening times change to 9:00 am-14:00 pm Saturday-Thursday and the mosque is completely closed on Fridays. They also only offer tours at 10:00 am on the days they are open.
5. BEST TIME OF DAY TO VISIT SHEIKH ZAYED MOSQUE
Any time of day is a good time to visit the mosque, however due to the heat you’re best visiting early morning or late evening. Also, if you’re into your photography then you might want to visit at sunset or just before sunset during golden hour as the photos I have seen from this time make the building look even more beautiful as the sun is shining off of it!
6. DRESS APPROPRIATELY
As this is a Muslim site you do need to cover up and understandably they are very strict with the dress code. They do however provide women with a black Abaya free of charge which they have in a few different sizes. On arrival, you are directed to a room where you change before entering the Mosque.
*Update 2020: Please double check that Abayas are available on the Grand Mosque website before you visit and ensure your own outfit is appropriate and includes a headscarf.
I wanted to wear my own outfit so it looked nicer in pictures (my main concern obviously!) so I wore a loose black maxi dress and took a headscarf and something to cover my arms, but they weren’t happy with it and made me wear one of their Abayas anyway. I got the feeling they like everyone to wear them so you are fully covered.
Therefore, I would suggest arriving with the attitude that you’re happy to wear one and if you want to add a bit of colour and style then bring along your own headscarf, otherwise you’ll have to use the hood of the Abaya. Also, be prepared to take your shoes off and walk barefoot.
For more information on the dress code, see the Mosque Manners section on the official website.
7. BRING SUNGLASSES
You’ll probably have your sunglasses on you anywhere as you’re in the UAE, but make sure you do pack them as the white building and the strong sun can make it practically blinding!
8. TAKE THE FREE GUIDED TOUR
Free guided tours are available at various times during the day depending on the day. We got there just after the first tour started and didn’t want to wait for the next tour to start so we walked around on our own but I can imagine the tour would be very interesting and worthwhile!
The tours are offered in English and Arabic and children are welcome. You can find the tour times on the official Grand Mosque website.
9. ENJOY IT!
It really is an incredible building and one of the grandest Grand Mosques in the world! Enjoy the culture, learn something about religion, take plenty of photos and be respectful. I hope that this article about the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi has inspired you to visit this incredible piece of architecture.
WHAT TO KNOW FOR VISITING ABU DHABI
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES VISAS
The typical visa to visit the United Arab Emirates allows you a free 30 day stay on arrival depending on your country of nationality. Be sure to check the official United Arab Emirates Immigration website for the latest information.
The currency used in United Arab Emirates is the Dirham (AED). The current exchange rate is approximately 1 USD to 3.65 AED. You can check the latest IDR exchange rate on Google.
While traveling, our number one tip is to use a free Charles Schwab Debit Card which gives unlimited worldwide ATM Fee Refunds and the true exchange rate.
BEST TOURS IN ABU DHABI
Some of the best tours and things to do in Abu Dhabi are:
- Desert Safari with BBQ, Camel Ride & Sandboarding
- City Tour with Grand Mosque & Royal Palace Visit
- Formula Yas 3000 Race Car Driving Experience
WHERE TO STAY IN ABU DHABI
Look to stay in central Abu Dhabi near the Grand Mosque or on Yas Island. We recommend booking your hotels on Booking.com to get the best rate and many hotels offer free cancellation in case your plans change.
Some of our favorite hotels in Abu Dhabi are:
- Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri: Beautiful waterfront hotel with a view of the Grand Mosque
- St Regis Abu Dhabi: Ultra luxury hotel on Saadiyat Island
- Yas Hotel: Moderately priced hotel on Yas Island
AirBnB is also a great option in Abu Dhabi (and you can save up to $44 on your first booking with that link)!
BEST TIME TO VISIT UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The best time to visit Abu Dhabi is during the cooler months between October and April. May to September can be uncomfortably warm, with temperatures exceeding 40+ degrees Celsius (105+ degrees Fahrenheit).
BEST BOOKS ABOUT ABU DHABI
Read more about United Arab Emirates before you go! Some of the best books about Abu Dhabi are:
- From Rags to Riches: A Story of Abu Dhabi by Mohammed Al Fahim
- Spaceship in the Desert: Energy, Climate Change, and Urban Design in Abu Dhabi
- Keepers of the Golden Shore: A History of the United Arab Emirates
WHAT POWER ADAPTERS DO YOU NEED
You can buy a universal adapter that will work in any country with any plug type and has extra ports for USB cables to charge your phone and other devices.
We also always travel with a portable battery pack which is great to keep your phone charged on long journies.
TRANSPORTATION IN ABU DHABI
- Public Transportation: There is regular public transportation by bus in Abu Dhabi. You can get a reloadable Hafilat card which can be used on any public bus, though traveling by bus is significantly slower than renting a car or taking a taxi.
- Rental Cars: It is possible to rent a car at the airport in Abu Dhabi. Make sure to be aware of local rules and strictly enforced speed cameras!
- Uber: Uber is not available in Abu Dhabi. However, taxis are reasonably priced and readily available, making them the preferred method of transportation.
Our top recommended travel insurance companies for Abu Dhabi are:
- World Nomads: Comprehensive coverage for medical, travel delays, and electronics.
- SafetyWing: Cheaper monthly coverage primarily for medical.
For more information, read our article on why you need to book travel insurance for your next trip!
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I hope this article helps you to plan your own visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. If you have questions, tips or updated information about visiting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, please share them with readers in the comments.
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