The grandeur of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi may be the capital emirate in UAE, but it is slightly overshadowed and seemed less touristy than its counterpart Dubai. But the truth be told, this largest emirate city has many stunning superlative attractions in its sleeve – be it architectural, cultural or natural.   Following our Kayaking along the mangrove forest in Abu Dhabi, this time we are going to show you around this stunning landmark – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.


Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the contemporary architectural wonders of the modern times.  I’ve even heard people relating to it as modern day Taj Mahal (although personally I would never make comparison between these two, having seen both of them!). But truth be told, this mosque lives up to any such comparisons. They are exceptionally well built, and one of the striking architecture I’ve seen in the recent times.

The very first glimpse of the mosque gave me a feeling as if the the structure was immersed in snow. So pure, so white, yet so grand with the imposing dome and minarets dominating the skyline against the white dusky sky.

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We always have a fascination to seeing structures such as these at night.  We were just plain lucky to experience the mosque both at day light and night when the magnificent architecture turn into a kaleidoscope of colors during the twilight and glitter through the night.  Although we only got a glimpse of the mosque during the day light for a very short time, but no complaints.
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The twilight skies gave a classy touch to the already opulent mosque.  The arches turned into a golden facade shimmering and reflecting in the outside pool, that provided a fantastic photo opportunity. The tall white marble pillars were embellished with a gold at the top to make it look like a palm tree. These imposing columns were the entry to the mosque and the marble work were nothing but exotic.

Grand Mosque Non B&W

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The art work on the domes deserve a word of appreciation too.Very detailed and intricate Moroccan artwork with floral and arabesque patterns. There are about 82 domes in different sizes and the largest one is located in the centre of the main prayer hall.

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One thing that stands out and leaves you speechless is the chandeliers in the mosque.  There are 7 crystal chandeliers around the halls and foyers. And the largest of them is in the main prayer hall, and is said to be world’s largest chandelier in a mosque weighing about 12 tonnes. Glass panels studded with Swarowski cyrstals were installed in all these chandeliers.

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 These are the 3 chandeliers and the view of the main prayer hall which can accommodate 40000 people. The main prayer hall also houses world’s largest hand-knotted carpet. Predominantly a woolen carpet, there are Islamic medallion design and they were hand crafted by roughly 1200 artisans and took two years to design, knot and transport.

The lighting system used for the domes represent Lunar illumination reflecting the phases of moon. Blueish Gray colour is projected onto the facades and domes.  Each day the colour changes depending on the phase of the moon. As the moon progresses from crescent to full moon, the lightening becomes darker.

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Lovely tile work near the entrance

The opulent mosque, the arches, the intricate work on the marbles, grand chandelier and carpet left us totally speechless.  Certainly one of the beautiful masterpiece architectures of UAE and an icon of Abu Dhabi, the Grand Mosque is a symbol of grandeur, sheer elegance and tranquility.

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If you are touring Abu Dhabi, there’s no doubt you need to add Grand Mosque to your itinerary.  The mosque is closed on Friday and during Ramadan festival there is restricted timing as well.  It’s best to check the opening hours before visiting the mosque.
Dress Code & Manners

–> Conservative clothing for women covering legs, hands, shoulders, neck and head. Trousers for men.
–> All women must wear Abaya (traditional robe) and Shayla (headscarf) which are provided at the mosque itself.  
–> Avoid tight and transparent clothing.
–> Shorts not allowed. 
–> Shoes must be removed before entering the mosque prayer hall. 
–> Intimate behaviour / public display of affection is prohibited.
–> Do not touch any displays like Holy Quran or any other architectural elements in the prayer hall. 
–> Food/drinks not allowed, and goes without saying – its a no smoking zone. 

The Abaya service can get extremely crowded when hiring and returning the robe.  Wearing an appropriate clothing (likes of yoga pants/loose pants/full skirt covering legs) with a full hand top, and a thick scarf to cover head/neck, you can skip the Abaya service, and enter the mosque directly.
Wear sandals/ flip flop instead of shoes.  It’s easy to get into the mosque this way. 

Have you been to Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi? Share your experience here. 

3 Responses

  1. Stunning monument and beautifully captured through your photos! Thank you for showing me this masterpiece! 🙂

  2. Fascinating structure! Beautifully captured!

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