Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, located in Abu Dhabi, is one of the most iconic mosques in the world. Spanning over an area of over 30 acres, it is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The mosque is large enough to accommodate up to 41,000 worshippers.
The mosque took 11 years to build (1996-2007) and it costed a total of 2 billion dirhams ($545 million USD). It was initially constructed by the late president of United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan with the purpose of uniting the cultural diversity of the Islamic world as well as the historical and modern values of architecture and art.
We joined a full day tour to Abu Dhabi from Dubai with Book Dubai Trip and the mosque was our very first stop. The reason why we picked this particular tour operator was because they included a 1 hour visit to the grand mosque and a 4 hour visit to Ferrari World – both being places I really wanted to go.
The journey from Dubai to Abu Dhabi took about 1 hour or so. When we arrived, the tour guide only allowed us to explore the mosque for only 45 minutes due to late pickups. We were slightly disappointed by this but I guess hiccups occur sometimes.
When we arrived, the tour guide gave us outfits to comply with the mosque’s attire requirements. This was a thoughtful gesture by the tour company as we will not waste time borrowing outfits or even worse, being denied entry into the mosque.
Women are required to cover their arms, legs and hair. This can be easily solved by wearing abayas – a robe like cloak that most muslim woman wear in the UAE. Dress codes for men are much more relaxed, as long as we don’t wear singlet or flip flops, we’re good to go.
In order to get into the mosque’s compound, every visitor needs to go through a security check point for everyone’s safety. I was surprised that there was no entry fee for non-muslims. I thought there would be – considering the scale of the mosque and its ability to attract tens of thousands of visitors through its doors.
As we entered the mosque, we were rewarded with more architectural wonders. With over 100,000 tons of pure white Greek and Macedonian marbles used during its construction, this mosque is a masterpiece of modern Islamic architecture and design.
There are over 1000 pillars throughout the mosque, alofting its roofline along with over 80 marble domes. On top of that, there are also four spectacular minarets at each corner of the mosque that stands as tall as 107 metres high.
In the middle of the mosque, there is a massive marble courtyard with a floral design that measures over 180,000 square feet. It is considered the largest marble mosaic in the world. No one is allowed to set foot on the courtyard and it is constantly being watched over by a few guards.
We walked along the hallways towards the side of the mosque with the bigger dome and we reached the main prayer hall. All visitors are required to remove their shoes before entering the hall. The main prayer hall can accommodate up to 7,000 worshippers at any time.
The carpet that covers the hall is the largest carpet in the world – covering an area of 5,627 m2. There are 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet and it took approximately two years to complete.
The Sheikh Zayed Mosque also imported seven stunning chandeliers all the way from Germany. All the chandeliers are incorporated with millions of Swarovski crystals!
Walking through the hall was awe inspiring. All the architectural and floral designs were incredibly detailed. Imagine the amount of time and effort put into these work of arts!
Our 45 minutes passed by really quickly. By the time we were done exploring the hall, our time was up. I wished we had more time to explore around the mosque. However, I’m grateful that we had the opportunity to see the grand mosque for ourselves.
This is by far the most spectacular mosque I’ve been to. Their remarkable architecture for a place of worship is simply unrivaled. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is definitely a must-go place for any tourist travelling to Abu Dhabi.