Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: Discovering the Jewel of Abu Dhabi

A Mesmerizing Fusion of Spirituality, Architecture, and Cultural Grandeur Awaits Every Visitor

In the heart of the world lies a marvel: the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a colossal testament to the grandeur of Islamic architecture. Rising amidst a horizon dotted with over a thousand pillars, its silhouette is graced by as many as 82 domes. Beneath its exalted ceilings, the world’s largest hand-knotted tapestry lies majestically, while chandeliers bathed in 24-karat gold glisten, casting a glow over the main prayer hall.

Commissioned by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may his soul rest in peace, this mosque isn’t just a masterpiece of design; it’s a beacon of Islam’s values of tolerance and harmony. His vision was not merely to create a structure but to build a bridge between the traditions of old and the promise of the present, a modern sanctuary that shines as a luminary of authentic Islamic principles and knowledge.

Yet, for all its magnificence and the swarm of over four million visitors in just the first half of this year, the mosque remains an oasis of tranquility. The UAE boasts many places of worship and opulent architectural wonders, but none hold the serene gravity of this resplendent edifice, which stands as a universal symbol of peace and unity for people from every corner of the globe.

Main Architectural Elements

The mosque’s 82 domes are unquestionably its most outstanding feature. The biggest one is in the middle of the main prayer hall. The “crown of the dome” is fashioned like an inverted pyramid and is gilded and adorned with glass mosaics on the upper half. All domes are covered in pristine white marble from the outside.

The mosque’s minarets combine aesthetic and magnificent Islamic architectural inspirations into a single design.

Columns with capitals at the bottom rather than the top are made with polychrome natural marble, creating a unique art form. This Islamic architectural style is out of the ordinary.

There is a sense of harmony in the colour scheme because of the blending of the walls, pillars, and carpet.

Another interesting element of this building is the glass sculpture. Glass mosaics, carved glass, and polished glass all feature traditional Islamic themes.


This mosque’s four minarets are visible from afar. It is estimated that each minaret is 106 metres in length and is constructed of three geometric shapes. The minaret’s square base, influenced by Moroccan, Andalusian, and Mamluk architectural styles, is the tower’s first component.

The Mamluk era is evident in the octagonal architecture of the minaret’s second half (from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries). The shape of the third component, which is cylindrical, was common during the Ottoman Empire (from the fourteenth to the twentieth century). The lamp atop the minaret, which is composed of gilded glass mosaics, commemorates the Fatimid era (from the tenth to the twelfth centuries).

Mosque carpet

The main prayer hall’s floor is covered in the world’s biggest handcrafted Islamic carpet. It was designed by carpet manufacturer and artist Dr. Ali Khaliqi, a third-generation family member.

Approximately 5,700 square metres of wool are used to make the carpet. It was the product of the labour of more than 1,200 artists. The project was completed in two years, with design taking eight months and spinning twelve months.

Mosque chandeliers

German Faustique created seven crystal chandeliers for the mosque. When it comes to sheer size, the largest chandelier clocks in at 10 metres in diameter and rises to a height of 15 metres. Additionally, there are two 8-ton copies of the same design adorning the main prayer hall.

The mosque’s main entrance is decorated with a 2 tonne chandelier, one of four that are identical in style and size and hang from the doorways around it.

Figures and Statistics about the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

When it came to the world’s best religious tourist attractions in 2018, it came in third behind the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica and India’s Taj Mahal, with Cambodia’s Angkor Wat Temple taking first place, according to TripAdvisor. Arrangement.

Built from 1996 to 2000 at a cost of $ 545 million, this one-of-a-kind architectural marvel began in Abu Dhabi. Headed by Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the world’s third largest mosque presently covers the size of four football fields (about 22,412 square metres). To far, the mosque has held three Guinness World Records, including biggest carpet, chandelier and dome of its kind. The mosque can accommodate approximately 40,000 worshipers at a time.

Your Travel Guide of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Featuring 82 white marble domes, 1,096 external columns, 96 precious stone-encrusted internal columns, and seven Swarovski chandeliers coated in 24-karat gold, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is an architectural wonder that captures the hearts of everyone who visit it. A historical and cultural structure may be found in Abu Dhabi.

Your Travel Guide of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

The Story of Designing and Building of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque stands as a majestic tribute to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the inaugural president of the United Arab Emirates. He not only inspired its construction but also expressed his desire to be interred within its grounds. Honoring his wishes, he was laid to rest in the mosque’s courtyard upon his demise.

The architectural marvel, designed by Syrian architect Yusef Abdalki, is a harmonious blend of Persian, Mughal, and Moorish influences. Its construction was a collaborative feat, with over 3,000 artisans from 38 global construction firms contributing their expertise. The mosque’s opulence is evident in the minutiae – from columns inlaid with amethyst and jasper jewels to the intricate flower motifs sculpted from mother-of-pearl gracing its walls.

British artist and painter Kevin Dean crafted the mosque’s exquisite floral decorations. Recounting his involvement in this monumental project, Dean described it as a “life-altering” experience. Nominated by Professor Salma Damluji, he was handpicked by Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed, Sheikh Zayed’s son and the mosque’s project overseer. After showcasing his portfolio, which he dispatched after departing the Natural History Museum in London, Dean soon found himself en route to Abu Dhabi, eager to meet Sheikh Sultan.

Recounting his interactions, Dean fondly described Sheikh Sultan as “a man of vision”, someone with a distinctive take on the mosque’s aesthetics. He didn’t seek the traditional Islamic motifs; instead, he yearned for something fresh. To Dean’s astonishment, he was granted complete creative autonomy, an opportunity he hadn’t experienced in prior major projects.

Dean’s passion for the project saw him traverse to Italy often, supervising the crafting of over 30 million marble pieces. Yet, the pinnacle of his joy came when he witnessed his floral masterpieces embellishing the vast 17,600-square-metre courtyard of the mosque.

Your Travel Guide of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Kevin Dean recalls thinking to himself, “I can’t believe this is happening.” From the patio, you could see for miles. The main patio’s decorations were inspired by well-known Middle Eastern flora, which I designed. At the main prayer hall, I created patterns inspired by Northern Hemisphere flowers; in the north entrance, I created patterns inspired by Southern Hemisphere flowers; and in the south entrance, I created patterns inspired by Middle Eastern roses. “My design emphasises the universality of the Islamic faith, which appealed to Sheikh Sultan.”

World Celebrities Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque draws a great number of tourists and visitors, as well as a slew of notable figures. Celebrities who have visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque include architect Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Shanina Shayk, Chanel Iman, and Halima Aden. They wear traditional Islamic clothing inside this spiritually elevating location, which captures the hearts of those who see it with its breathtaking beauty.

Your Travel Guide of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE
Prince Charles on a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

In 2016, Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall travelled to the UAE for three days, stopping at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Singers Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, and Dua Lipa wanted to see Abu Dhabi’s top tourist attraction when they visited the country.

Tips for Tourist Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a must-visit landmark in Abu Dhabi. If you’re planning to visit, here are some essential tips to ensure a memorable and respectful experience:

  1. Dress Modestly: Adherence to a dress code is a must. Women should wear loose-fitting clothes that cover their arms and legs, and they must also cover their hair with a scarf or shawl. Men should avoid shorts and sleeveless shirts. If you’re not dressed appropriately, you can borrow abayas (traditional robes) and kanduras from the mosque.
  2. Visit Timing: The mosque is open to visitors from Saturday to Thursday from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Fridays are dedicated to prayers, so visiting hours for tourists start in the afternoon. The best time to visit is just before sunset, so you can witness the mosque’s beauty during daylight, at sunset, and when it’s illuminated at night.
  3. Guided Tours: Free guided tours are usually available multiple times a day. They provide deep insights into the mosque’s architectural wonders and the principles of Islam.
  4. Silent Admiration: Remember to stay quiet and maintain an atmosphere of respect, especially when prayers are ongoing.
  5. Shoes Off: You’ll be required to remove your shoes before entering certain parts of the mosque. Shoe racks are provided.
  6. Photography: While taking photos is allowed, be respectful. Avoid loud or disruptive behavior when taking pictures, and always avoid photographing worshippers or prayers. Some areas may have restrictions on photography.
  7. Prayer Times: The mosque will be closed to visitors during the five daily prayer times, which last about 30 minutes each.
  8. Stay Hydrated: Abu Dhabi can be very hot, especially during the summer. Carry a bottle of water with you, wear sunscreen, and have a hat or umbrella for shade if you’re sensitive to heat.
  9. Explore the Grounds: The mosque’s interiors are stunning, but its exteriors, gardens, and reflective pools are equally captivating.
  10. Learn Ahead: Before visiting, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some basics of Islamic culture and the mosque’s history. This will enrich your experience.
  11. Connect with Locals: Emiratis are known for their hospitality. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or engage in conversations. You’ll find many eager to share their culture and traditions.
  12. Plan Your Transport: While taxis are readily available in Abu Dhabi, you might also consider using ride-sharing apps or public transportation to get to the mosque.

Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a confluence of architectural magnificence and spiritual serenity. Enjoy your trip and take in every moment!

Popular Spot for Photography Enthusiasts and Professionals

With so much beauty and luxury, it is no wonder that everyone, amateur and professional of photography, flocks regularly to the mosque to capture perfect shots of the magnificence and brag about them on social media. The mosque was taken by international photographer Mark Loscombe White, who specializes in Arab architecture, for the cover of Architectural Digest Arabia in 2016.

“Like a lot of great buildings, I see this mosque as a mixture of luxury, heritage, faith and spirituality, and this combination adds a lot of charm to this place,” he told CNN Travel. And since we were alone while taking pictures, we had moments when we could pause and contemplate things without being distracted or disturbed, which made us truly feel the strength and grandeur of the building and the architectural perfection in which it was built. ”Luscombe-White and his team were granted special permission to photograph before dawn to avoid The large number of tourists flock to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque every day.

Your Travel Guide of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

“We took the photographs of the exterior at 5 in the morning and were able to take shots of luxury, majesty and magnificence,” says White. While there were spacious and empty spaces, we preferred the emergence of people in the frame to convey to the viewer the feeling of the spaciousness of the place.

For those hoping to capture the perfect shot, White advises you should try to get there early if you can and look for a great shot and focus on it.

As for the crowds, White stated that instead of trying to avoid them, he inserted it into the frame, saying “one person can be a gift to life in a building like this.”

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Location and Access Roads

Taxis from Abu Dhabi city center are the fastest and most convenient way to get to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, as the journey takes only 20 minutes, and the prices are reasonable. As for the residents of Dubai, they must take a trip on the highway as the mosque is about 90 minutes away from the Dubai Mall, and it is a trip that all residents of the city of Dubai must take, whether he is a religious person or not. Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque does not need more than two hours, so we recommend that you visit one of the other tourist attractions in Abu Dhabi to make the most of your trip to the UAE capital.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is located on Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Street, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and the phone number for the mosque is +97124191919.

A map of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque location

A video tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Your Travel Guide of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE


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