When I told people that we were going to Abu Dhabi, one of the first things everyone said was “you have to go visit the Mosque!”. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the biggest Mosque in UAE and the eighth biggest in the world. I love getting to know the culture in the countries that I visit so I was excited to see it!
It is free to visit the mosque however I reccommend you “sign up” online before you visit. Luckily our hotel told us this a day before we were going. If you do it online you get a barcode that you scan to get in, this saves you an extra queue!
We visited the mosque in Ramadan, which meant no drinking or eating in public. The entrance is actually quite far away from the Mosque itself, it leads you down to some shops and then a very long tunnel to security and eventually up to the mosque. I was very suprised to see some cafes open downstairs (with a black curtain so people fasting don’t see you eating).
As we went in Ramadan the opening times were shorter so we weren’t able to see the sunset. The normal opening times are from 9am till 10pm and on Friday 4:30pm till 10pm. In Ramadan Fridays are completely closed and on the other days it is open 10am till 2pm. I strongly reccommend you go as early as possible. My boyfriend didn’t want to get up early so we ended up going at around half 11 – it was already quite full and when we left we saw masses of people arriving. We spoke to a couple at our hotel who happened to visit there the same day and they went at 10am and it was almost empty! So going early is best (unless you want to catch the sunset which I’ve heard is beautiful).
As a man make sure you are wearing long trousers and a normal shirt or t shirt (no vests). For women it doesn’t really matter what you wear as they will give you an Abaya to wear over your clothes anyway. I read that you must have a driving licence or some kind of ID that isn’t a passport to give up as a deposit. However when I went I didn’t have to give anything as a deposit! I would take ID with you just incase though. You can wear open or closed shoes and do not need to take them off.
When you enter the mosque there are ropes everywhere which lead you the correct way. I found this a bit disappointing as you don’t have a minute to yourself and there are tourists all around you. They then have signs up saying “photo stop” and “next photo stop” where everyone takes their photos. It just felt all a bit… Instagrammy. Like all everyone cares about is taking photos instead of just standing there and taking in all the beauty the mosque has to offer. I love taking photos too but sometimes you just want to stand there and look around instead of constantly being in someone’s shot. I saw a lot of photos on Instagram of the mosque where no ropes are visible in the photos – I suppose they are photoshopped out which is why I was not expecting it!
There are free guided tours but we decided not to take one. As we walked through we heard the prayer songs being sung which really was a plus point of coming in Ramadan.
The artwork and architecture of the building are absolutely stunning.
As everyone says – it is a must see if you happen to be in UAE. Just make sure you get there early to avoid all the other tourists!
Any questions? Leave me a comment below!