Things You Need to Know Before Planning a Day Out at Sheikh Zayed Mosque | Solo Female Travel

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Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque for the first time on my solo trip to Dubai turned out to one of the most memorable experiences. The white marble and intricate golden details left me awestruck from the moment I stepped foot inside the mosque. 

When you visit Dubai, a trip to Abu Dhabi is a must, solely for the reason to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. It is one of the largest and most beautiful mosques in the world. In my opinion, it is the most mesmerising piece of architecture I have ever seen in my life! And I’m not even exaggerating.

Even after knowing that the mosque is at a distance of one and a half hours ride from Dubai, I decided to visit Abu Dhabi on day 2 of my Dubai itinerary. There were plenty of photographs and blogs I had read about the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, but I wanted to see this beauty with my own eyes!

If you are visiting Dubai, you might have a ton of questions related to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque since it is located in another city. Well, this blog will tell you everything you need to know before planning a day out at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

But before that, let’s have a look at some cool facts about this mesmerising architecture.

how to visit sheikh zayed mosque
  • The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world that is spread across a massive area of 12 hectares.
  • The mosque is built with imported materials from different countries like India, Egypt, Greece, New Zealand, Morocco, Germany, and Turkey.
  • The architectural design of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque has been inspired by a mixture of Ottoman, Mamluk, and Fatimid architectural styles.
  • The main prayer hall in the mosque has the largest hand-knotted carpet in the world. Legends say the design of the carpet was completed in 8 months, 12 months to knot it, and another two months to bring the piece together! Pretty fascinating, right?
  • The seven of the most beautiful chandeliers in the Sheikh Zayed Mosque have been imported from Germany. 
  • The Sheikh Zayed Mosque consists of a total of 82 domes, and the biggest one is located at the centre of the main prayer hall.
  • The lighting system inside the mosque is one of the coolest features of this beauty. The lights at the mosque change every night in accordance with the phase of the moon! 

Now, let’s dive into the things that you need to know before planning a day out at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

1. Getting to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

If you are staying in Abu Dhabi, you can easily book a cab that will drop you right in front of the mosque. At the exit gate of the mosque, there is a taxi stand from where you can take a taxi to reach your abode. Or you can opt for public transport. 

From Dubai to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the distance is about 130 kilometres. If you hire a cab or taxi, it will take you about one and a half hours to get to the mosque. To some people, this may seem like a lot of time wasted travelling, but trust me, the experience is going to be worth it!

Just like me, there were many travellers who had come to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque from Dubai for one day. I would say it is doable, and you should definitely try to take out a day from your trip to visit Abu Dhabi.

2. Best time to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

The mosque is open on all days of the week, from 9 AM to 10 PM. Although on Fridays, it is open only after 4:30 PM for visitors. 

If you are planning to make a trip to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque during Ramadan, the timings may vary. I would suggest you inquire about the opening hours well in advance before making any plans.

3. The entry fee to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

There is no entrance fee to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. You will be entering the mosque through a small area equipped with security X-ray machines. 

4. Average time to spend at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

If you plan on exploring the main parts of the mosque on your own, 2 hours would be enough to do so. However, if you opt for a guided tour, you can count on two additional hours to explore each and every part of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

On my visit to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, I did not opt for the guided tour and went on exploring the mosque on my own. It took me about one and a half hours to see all the main parts. But if you want a detailed tour of the mosque with a lot of interesting facts, the guided tour would be helpful!

5. The dress code to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Since the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is a religious place, a strict dress code is observed at the mosque. You will be required to dress modestly and wear clothes that do not reveal too much. Anything that is too tight or short or revealing is strictly prohibited.

When I visited the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, I had worn a loose sleeveless sundress covering my legs, but unfortunately, not my arms. But the mosque provides the female tourists with an ‘abaya’ (traditional clothing of a Muslim woman) to wear. Here is an interesting thing, these abayas are free of cost, i.e., you do not have to pay any advance or a fee to borrow them. However, you will have to return them at the exit gate.

I picked out a pink abaya from the mosque. After that, I was directed to the changing rooms to wear the abaya on top of my outfit. It was very comfortable to wear, and the pictures turned out to be quite good as well. The abaya looked extremely beautiful and aesthetic against the white and golden backdrop of the mosque!

6. Maintaining the mosque etiquette

Any place of worship requires you to maintain respectful etiquette. And so does the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. 

The following tips can come in handy when you visit the mosque.

  • Do not carry any drinks or snacks inside the mosque. This is done in order to ensure the risk to the architectural interior (especially the marble and luxurious carpets) is not increased. 
  • If you do end up visiting the mosque with a friend of the opposite sex you made on your trip or just a group of other travellers, you have to strictly refrain from showing any PDA. Even when you take pictures, it is advisable you do not put your arms around them. I understand this may seem like an unnecessary restriction, but at the end of the day, it is a place of worship, and rules are to be followed by everyone.
  • If you go on to explore the mosque on your own, refrain from entering the prohibited areas. 

7. Food and snacks at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Since you will not be allowed to carry any food items or drinks with you inside the mosque, the only option is the cafe outside the mosque called the Coffee Club. It serves some delicious sandwiches and salads. You can either eat before entering the mosque or after coming out. 

Since the tour of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque can take you somewhere around 2 hours, I would suggest you fuel up before the tour itself. This way, you can actually enjoy exploring this majestic beauty instead of worrying about when you will get out of the mosque and fill your tummy!

8. The guided tours at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Here is an interesting thing about exploring the mosque – the guided tours are free of cost! So whether you decide to explore the mosque on your own or opt for a guided tour, you would not have to spend even a single penny!

The guided usually lasts for about 45 minutes to an hour. It is advisable to report at the mosque at least 15 minutes before the tour begins. The tours are conducted in both English and Arabic, so even if you do not know Arabic, you know you are covered! Additionally, if you would like to learn a few basic Arabic phrases and words, then check out my blog here. Learning a few Arabic words will only enhance your solo trip experience to any part of the UAE.

9. Photography inside the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

The best part about the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is capturing it in photographs. You can click pictures in almost all parts of the mosque. However, there might be a few areas where photography might be prohibited. You can check for any visible signs or boards regarding the same.

To get really aesthetic pictures, I would suggest you visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in the evening. During sunset in the golden hour light, the mosque looks breathtaking, and pictures come out really good!

I had heard quite a lot about the golden hour light in the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and made my plans accordingly. I would be lying if I said I didn’t get some aesthetic Insta-worthy pictures!

10. Things not to take inside the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Since the mosque has some strict rules, it is expected you to follow all of them. Along with a prohibition of carrying snacks and drinks inside, huge cameras and tripods are prohibited too. Although this is not official information, I did see some tourists carrying a huge DSLR camera to the mosque. But unfortunately, it was confiscated at the security check-in itself. 

If you carry a small camera with you, that should do the work. Otherwise, you can just stick to using your phone camera. 

Tips on visiting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Now that you know all the essential things before visiting the mosque, here are a few tips that will help enhance your experience at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

  • Usually, on weekends, you might witness a bit of a crowd. To avoid crowds, I would suggest you visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque on a weekday.
  • Do not carry huge bags to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. It may make you look suspicious.
  • The most important tip to remember is to carry a headscarf with you. Although you can borrow an abaya (comes with a hood to cover your head) at the entrance, it wouldn’t hurt to keep a scarf in your bag.
  • Since the Sheikh Zayed Mosque has a huge open area and is usually very sunny in Abu Dhabi, don’t forget to carry a pair of sunglasses and sunscreen with you. Even though the abaya will cover most of your body, your face will be uncovered. Slather a good amount of sunscreen on your face to avoid the risk of getting tanned!
  • Do not forget to have a good breakfast before you leave for the mosque. Like I mentioned earlier, snacks and drinks are not allowed inside the mosque. And there is just one cafe outside of the mosque. You can go looking for restaurants in the nearby area, but that may be too time-consuming.  
  • Plan your day well. Travelling to Abu Dhabi will take about 5 to 6 hours of your day, but you will still have a lot of time to do other things. Either you can check out some places in Abu Dhabi itself or come back to Dubai and visit one or two places. If you are too tired with all the travelling and walking around in the mosque, you can hit the hay and start afresh in the morning!

I have to say that the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is one of the most beautiful mosques in the United Arab Emirates. Although travelling to Abu Dhabi might get a bit tiring, you will have one of the best days on your trip exploring the magnificent architecture of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. 

So, what’s your favourite thing about the Sheikh Zayed Mosque?

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Swagachi

An introverted solo female traveller on an adventure around the world.

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