Undoubtedly you’ve seen someone you know or follow visiting this most scenic of mosques in the United Arab Emirates. Even for Dubai holiday makers this is the must see day trip experience in Abu Dhabi 2 hours away. Although we would certainly tell you as the Capital of the UAE Abu Dhabi has many amazing things that make it a destination in its own right. More on that here.
The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is an architectural wonder completed within the last twenty years. It is a testament to the visionary founder of the modern Arab country and the exuberant lifestyle that exists in the United Arab Emirates for locals and tourists alike.
A place of worship and culture
It is important to remember first and foremost that The White Mosque –as many call it- is a place of worship for the nation and one that reflects the commitment towards progress and beauty. As such it can have changeable hours for ceremonies, visitors are asked to dress modestly and act appropriately while inside it. This being said there is a lot of freedom to pose and take pictures, but it is helpful to remember to carry a spirit of respect.
Logistics and timings:
The mosque is one of the first monuments that is visible once you enter the island of Abu Dhabi proper. It creates a lasting memory in visitors and is easily visible from the highway. It is easy to visit the mosque; it is open every day from 9 am to 10 pm except on Fridays when it opens from 4 pm to 11 pm. The mosque closes for around 15 minutes during prayer times; Men are asked to dress modestly and never wear shorts. Women are asked to cover their heads and the personnel of the mosque offer appropriate clothing for women free of charge.
Once you arrive to the main parking lot you don’t actually walk towards the mosque but to these glass structures that look like flower buds rising from the ground. You go underground and register your name and nationality to get a free pass. Then you proceed through security and walk a bit of a ways underground to reach the mosque itself. There is wheelchair assistance and this is where women can get their head coverings. There are walking tours available at 10 am, 11 am and 4:30 pm. The entrance and tours are free of charge. Parking is free as well. During the month of Ramadan visiting timings are much less.
What to expect:
The mosque is really beauty on a scale of opulence. It is dazzlingly white with splashed of color on the polished stones and columns, with water and pools all around it. The design is impressive, with huge lamps and beautifully handmade rugs. The courtyard is said to be the largest example of a marble mosaic in the world, it incorporates pieces from India to Armenia and South Tirol in Italy.
The glass chandeliers were imported from Germany and they used millions of Swarovski crystals. The rug that is in the prayer hall was commissioned in Iran by a famous artist and as well is the biggest handmade rug of the world. There are 82 domes of different sizes and four minarets. It takes some time to admire all this beauty together. It is an amazing example of the kind of structures that can be built nowadays. Emiratis are certainly proud of their Mosque; the total cost was more than 600 million USD. Besides the Mosque itself there is a huge library that comprises a vast collection of books in different languages and places for conferences, ritual ablutions and rest. Visiting Sheikh Zayed Mosque is quite an experience, we do it every time we are in the UAE and it never fails to amaze.