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:
- The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal
- The Fairmont Bab Al Bahr
- The Park Rotana Abu Dhabi
- Find the best price on hotels in Abu Dhabi
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
United Arab Emirates uses standard 2 prong Type C adapters (commonly used in Europe), 3 prong round Type D adapters, and 3 prong Type G adapters (commonly used in the United Kingdom).
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!
MORE ARTICLES ABOUT THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
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.
Want to share your own travel tips by guest writing for We Are Travel Girls? Go to our Contribute page for guidelines and to submit your article.
We Are Travel Girls Contributor Ellie Quinn of TheWanderingQuinn.com
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Great article on Sheikh Zayed Mosque! I used to work in UAE for almost two years back in 2013, and I must say that the mosque really lives up to its name—Grand. It’s majestic and overwhelming. There’s a bus service running from Dubai to Abu Dhabi (by Roads and Transport Authority Dubai) and Abu Dhabi to Dubai (by Department of Transportation Abu Dhabi) which costs both AED25, each way. There are two bus terminals in Dubai that have buses going to Abu Dhabi, 1) Al Ghubaiba Bus Terminal which is the main and larger one, and closer to the city center i.e Deira and 2) Ibn Batuta Bus Terminal (located in Ibn Batuta Mall) which is closer to the Mall of the Emirates. You can check it from here: http://dubai-buses.com/InterCity.aspx Both bus services arrive and let off passengers at the same bus terminal in Al Wahda Bus Terminal in Abu Dhabi. From there, you can take a cab or a local bus to get to the Grand Mosque. You can visit this link to plan your journey in Abu Dhabi: https://www.darb.ae/darbweb/map-viewer.html
Getting back to Dubai from AD by bus, head over to the Al Wahda Bus Terminal. Two bus services are available, the same where you catch your bus going to AD. If you are staying close to Deira/ Downtown, catch the E100 Abu Dhabi to Bur Dubai/Al Ghubaiba bus station or E101 Abu Dhabi to Ibn Batuta Metro Station. Bus E100 drops off passengers at only 2 stops; at Al Jafiliya Metro Station (just after World Trade Center) and at Bur Dubai/Al Ghubaiba Bus Terminal. Do note that E100 buses leave every 30 mins while E101 buses leave every hour. It takes about 30-40mins from Ibn Batuta to say, Burj Khalifa.
We Are Travel Girls says
Hi Kristina, Thanks so much for taking the time to write out so much detailed information – this is so helpful for our readers!! If you ever want to write for us and share more of your travel tips head over to our Contribute page! > http://www.wearetravelgirls.com/contribute
This is amazing, thank you! We are in the process of planning our trip to UAE and this information was super helpful. We are going during Ramadan so we are nervous about the Mosque hours and the crowd. The bus information is also very helpful. Which bus from Abu Dhabi to Dubai gets us closer to the Dubai mall? I figured that’s a good place to catch a taxi to our hotel.
I’m also traveling to UAE during Ramadan. Thank u very much for these helpful tips as I was researching where to buy tickets, attire and get my transportation.
Thanks so much and keep writing!
Akshay Koranne says
Thanks Ellie for sharing the tips. I have been in Abu Dhabi last year, however I was unable to visit this beautiful mosque. You have given me the reason to visit the emirates capital once again. beautiful pictures and very well explained blog. Looks like worth watching place.
Becky van Dijk says
Thank you for reading and commenting Akshay, we are pleased to hear that Ellie’s post has inspired you to visit Abu Dhabi again!
My family is traveling to Abu dhabi encounter to another country in May but we havw two dats in abu Dhabi cold you give me a few spots that are must see while there. It is our hope to shop the souks but I want them to experience the culture too while there.
Arif Khan says
Abu Dhabi looks more than decent to me. To be very honest, I was unaware of all these beautiful attractions. I have been in Dubai twice but never visited Abu Dhabi. I hope next, I will get a chance to visit this wonderful place. Thanks for sharing the blog.
We Are Travel Girls says
Thanks for reading and commenting Arif, so pleased that this post has inspired you to visit Abu Dhabi!
When I visit the mosque, I would like to have the black abaya for rental. Can you request for it or how did you get the black? As I’ve seen there are other colours of abaya for rental as well. Thanks for the answer!
We Are Travel Girls says
Thanks for reading and commenting Stella. The article was written by our contributor Ellie Quinn of http://www.thewanderingquinn.com, perhaps you could reach out to her to get some more tips in travel to the mosque. Thanks! XO, Becky
It is really helpful and delightful because I am intend to visit this amazing building tomorrow. As this is the second time I am here and free to take a tour in Abu Dhabi, but still it is not a city I are familiar with. The most concern is that I do not know how to get back to downtown Abu Dhabi. But your lovely tips do help me out so I am comfort to go. Thanks for the sharing.
We Are Travel Girls says
Thank you so much for reading Lily, so pleased to hear that you found Ellie’s post about visiting the mosque helpful for your own planning. Have a wonderful time on your trip! Becky – Founder, We Are Travel Girls
hi do you know if an regular tripod for camera is allowed to used inside? thank you
Riya Chauhan says
What a lovely post ? loved all your pictures and thanks for all the details ♥️
We Are Travel Girls says
Thank you for reading and commenting Riya!
Thank you for sharing this! So hepful! We are planning our trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the end of March and looking forward visiting this beautiful place.
We’ll be staying in Dubai most of the time but planning to come to Abu Dhabi for one night, do you think is enough?
THanks! Love reading your blog btw ;)
KIm Glenn says
I think an update is required here. I visited the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi today expecting to be able to get an Abaya. There were no Abaya’s available. On top of that, many people in our group were refused entrance as their clothes were too tight, showed wrists, ankles, see thru and the list went on. They are very strict and if I could offer advice / go prepared with your own attire. Completely covered neck to toes and fingertips. Loose not form fitting. Your hair must also be covered with a scarf. Men get away with much less but women there was no leniency at all. So much so the wind blew my head scarf off and security was on me to put it back on. So go prepared and dress yourself so there is no disappointments.
Thanks for the update!
Hi. It seems the policies have changed as of this comment date. There were women who may be considered as wearing “Provacative attire” but jad no issues getting in. Abbaya’s are provided dor women and tracksuit bottoms are available for men to change into, provided free of charge.
Tatiana Arteaga says
hi wondering if i bring small girls do they also have to cover up? thanks
Hi, no. Small boys and girls do not need to comply with relevant attire. My 7 year old son had long shorts on and my 4 year old daughter had a summer dress
Hi! Thank u for sharing this.. Im going to the mosque by taxi from my hotel in Dubai.. I was wondering if its easy to get a taxi back to Dubai from the mosque? As in, taxis are easily available outside the mosque? Will be waiting for your kind reply..
Thank u so much..
Sorry this is too late for you but for future travellers, yes there are official and plentiful taxis at the complex. I was told they are there till 10:30 to 11 pm
ly rain says
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was initiated by the late president of the United Arab Emirates. His final resting place is located on the grounds beside the same mosque. The mosque was constructed from 1996 to 2007. The carpet in the main prayer hall is considered to be the world’s largest carpet. It also having third largest chandelier in the world inside.
Just to let you know there are various coffee and fast food shops now open near the entrance/security area. There is also a large grocery shop and souvenir shops. There will be a McDonald’s opening soon! :-(
There is a Clock looking piece hing on the wall inside the mosque. What is it and what does it signify.
Thank you for posting articles like this; it is very informative!
Hope you can help me with my question. I have a late night to mid morning layover in Abu Dhabi by mid December 2019. Having said that, the latest time I can visit the mosque is around 7am, because my connecting flight is 10:45am. I’m aware that opening hour starts at 9am.
Do you have any idea what parts of the mosque I’ll be able to see during this hour?
Thanks to advise.
Sana Haris says
Thank you for sharing this! So helpful! We are planning our trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi at the end of March and looking forward to visiting this beautiful place.
We’ll be staying in Dubai most of the time but planning to come to Abu Dhabi for one night, do you think is enough? BTW Best Post thanks for sharing this information I really like your posts.
Hi! Great article, just one update, nowadays Uber is available in Abu Dhabi, and otherwise download the Careem app, also great for taxis, with these two apps you don’t have to have cash for your taxi. Because if you take a ‘regular’ taxi they do not accept credit cards unless you have a specific app, which is hard to install if you are not Emirati :)