Looking to visit Abu Dhabi’s famous mosque?! Here’s my guide to visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in 2024 with lots of tips on visiting hours, how to dress, the best time to visit and how to get there from Dubai & Abu Dhabi!
Sheikh Zayed Mosque is by far one of the most impressive mosques in the world and you don’t have to be interested in religion to appreciate and marvel at this beautiful building!
Out of the tourist attractions in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Mosque is top of the list and it’s also one of the top excursions from Dubai because even a trip to Dubai isn’t complete without heading to see Abu Dhabi’s largest mosque!
Visiting Sheikh Zayed Mosque
In this Abu Dhabi travel blog, I will give you up-to-date information on how to visit Sheikh Zayed Mosque because many things have changed in the last few years including the need for (free) QR tickets now, female cover-ups are no longer provided and the new photography limits.
I actually wrote this article back in 2017 for WeAreTravelGirls with my tips for visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque but most of these tips are really outdated now so keep reading this Sheikh Zayed Mosque travel guide!
Even if you have been to Sheikh Zayed Mosque before, please keep reading so you know what to expect now as I was taken by surprise during my recent visit this Spring!
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1. Sheikh Zayed Mosque Visiting Times
When planning your Abu Dhabi itinerary, or Dubai itinerary to Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the main thing to keep in mind is the visiting times of Sheikh Zayed Mosque, especially on Fridays.
The mosque is open for all visitors from Saturday to Thursday 09:00 am to 10:00 pm with the last admission being at 09:30 pm.
On Fridays, the mosque is open for all visitors from 09:00 am to 12:00 pm (with the last admission at 11:30 am) and then reopens from 3:00 pm. to 10:00 pm (with the last admission being at 09:30 pm).
If you know you are visiting the UAE during the holy month of Ramadan (this will be in March in 2024), check the opening times for tourists during Ramadan here.
Why does Sheikh Zayed Mosque close on Fridays?
The mosque closes for a few hours on Friday because Friday is the holy day in Islam and Friday prayers happen just after lunchtime. This is a very busy part of the day with worshippers visiting and therefore is closed to tourists.
What time is Jummah Prayer at Sheikh Zayed Mosque?
If you are Muslim, I’d really recommend visiting Sheikh Zayed Mosque for Friday prayer. Check the current prayer times at Sheikh Zayed Mosque here.
I believe Jummah prayer is at 1:15 pm at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque however you’ll need to give yourself time to enter. If you are Muslim, Friday at Jummah Prayer is the best time to visit the mosque as its the only time you can take photos in the main courtyard as usually it is sectioned off with security manning it.
2. Sheikh Zayed Mosque Dress Code
In some ways, the dress code for Sheikh Zayed mosque has become looser in the last few years however men and women still need to dress appropriately for the mosque.
RELATED POST: WHAT TO WEAR IN ABU DHABI AS A WOMAN
Previously, women were given black abaya’s to wear as they entered and these had to be worn unless you were wearing an actual abaya you brought yourself.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque no longer provide abaya’s and scarfs to women so you need to come with the correct clothing to be allowed entry.
How to Dress in Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Women MUST wear a scarf over their head to cover their hair. It’s ok for this to be loose and not cover all the hair but you must keep it on top of your head and not let it fall around your shoulders only.
Women MUST have their chest covered, their shoulders covered and their arms covered. Realistically, 3/4 sleeves are ok but t-shirt sleeves are not.
Women MUST have their legs covered. Again realistically, 3/4 covered in the leg is ok with the ankle and bottom of calf showing.
Men MUST have their arms covered down. T-shirts for men are not allowed, a 3/4 sleeve is ok.
Men MUST have their legs covered. Shorts for men are not allowed. Below the knee must be covered so 3/4 lengths are ok.
Outfits MUST NOT be see-through, too tight, have slits or be too ‘sexy’.
Where to buy clothes for visiting Sheikh Zayed Mosque?
The great thing is that the mall underneath the Sheikh Zayed mosque sells everything you’ll need to be properly covered in the mosque for men and women at a reasonable price.
The mall on Google is called: New Visitor Center & Plaza at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
One of the benefits to women no longer being provided an abaya by the mosque is that women can now buy a cultural outfit in the UAE and wear it. Bright coloured abaya’s and bright full length dresses are perfect and it’s really nice to see women embracing the local clothing to the mosque.
This is also the case with men. In the UAE local men wear a Kandora which is typically a long white outfit with loose white pants/trousers underneath. During the 2022 World Cup in Qatar we saw men from around the world wear the Qatari version and compliment how light and airy they are to wear.
I saw many foreign tourist men during my 3 recent visits to Abu Dubai & Dubai wearing a Kandora because they are perfect for entering a mosque, wearing in the desert, and staying cool in the heat (this is why locals wear them after all!). Men can buy Kandora’s inside the mall underneath the Sheikh Zayed Mosque too.
Looking to visit Sheikh Zayed from Dubai?? Here are some top tours!
3. Sheikh Zayed Mosque Tickets
In recent years it’s become mandatory to book your visit to Sheikh Zayed Mosque meaning you need to complete this form and get a QR code before entering.
The tickets for Sheikh Zayed Mosque are free, but you still need to book and get a QR code.
Complete this official form with your entry date and time and all the guest details. I didn’t realise this when I visited so I completed the form just as I entered. This was ok for me as I was just one person and there in the hot summer months, however on busy days they do restrict the numbers.
4. Best Time of Day to Visit Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Easily, the best time of day to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is just before sunset.
If you get to the mosque about 1 hour to 30 minutes before sunset you’ll get to see the mosque with blue skies, you’ll then hear the sunset call to prayer, see the mosque with sunset skies and finally with nighttime skies.
There are benches to sit on outside of the mosque so you can easily have a break on these whilst you want for the skies to change.
Sunset going into the evening is also the coolest time of day and another one of the reasons its the best time to visit Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
However, sunset is one of the most busy times of day because of the draw of the sky colours and Muslims coming to pray sunset prayer.
If you’re not into photos and getting all the sky colours, I’d recommend visiting early in the morning after it opens at 9:00 am. This is another one of the coolest times of day and the mosque is likely to be less busy with visitors and those wanting to pray as the next prayer time isn’t until lunchtime.
It’s about a 30 minute drive from popular places like Yas Island, Emirates Palace, Qasr al Watan, and the Louvre to Sheikh Zayed Mosque, maybe 40-45 minutes with traffic.
When planning your Abu Dhabi itinerary, I’d recommend visiting the mosque on the same day you visit other cultural places such as the impressive Palace – Qasr al Watan, the traditional Fort Qasr al Hosn and the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
What’s the best way to get around Abu Dhabi?
If you are a family or group, I’d recommend hiring a car to get around Abu Dhabi. If you are solo or not confident hiring a car, it’s easy to use taxi apps such as Kareem and Uber to get around Abu Dhabi (I prefer Kareem).
There’s also a tourist shuttle bus between the popular tourist sites but you will need to play your itinerary around the bus schedule.
6. Getting to Sheikh Zayed Mosque from Dubai
The drive from Dubai to Sheikh Zayed Mosque is about 1 hour 30 minutes, more with traffic. It seems a lot, especially if you have a packed Dubai itinerary for your holiday, but it is worth it and you can visit more places in Abu Dhabi at the same time!
Unfortunately, there are limited public transport options between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, especially for just a day trip so your best options are:
- Join a group tour from Dubai like these ones:
- Drive yourself – unless you are a solo traveller in Dubai in which case a tour is the best option, I’d recommend hiring a car and driving to Abu Dhabi. This will give you the freedom to see more of the city and the roads are very big in the UAE and easy to navigate.
- Take a Taxi – this is something your hotel in Dubai can organise for you. I did this several years ago and it cost £50.00 each way. I imagine it is more expensive now.
7. Sheikh Zayed Mosque Free Tour
If you want to know more about Abu Dhabi’s famous mosque, I recommend joining one of their free cultural tours that are held regularly throughout the day.
The tours last 30 – 45 minutes and are ran by staff at the mosque. (If you visit Sheikh Zayed mosque on a tour from Dubai, you won’t get a guide inside the mosque like this)
Check out the morning, afternoon and evening cultural tour times here.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque facts are abundant and the architecture is incredible which you can learn more about on this tour as well as learning some facts on Islam and how the mosque operates.
8. Sheikh Zayed Mosque Photo Spots
One of the biggest tips I’ll give you for visiting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is to not expect a surreal and peaceful experience.. unfortunately.
I’ve been multiple times and each time I’ve had a guard tell me off for where I’m standing, or even twirling, I recently got told off for twirling for a photo because it looked like dancing and although they need to do their jobs, it does leave you with a bad impression… and I’m saying that as a now Muslim!
Taking photos in Sheikh Zayed Mosque is very restricted because you are not allowed inside the main courtyard and recently, some of the pillar areas have been restricted to.
There are many dedicated photo spots which get filled with many people and this can be frustrating, although also understandable.
One of the only positives of this is that you can manage to get photos with fewer people in the background. For example the below photo of the pillars is clear of people only because the whole area behind it has been fenced off.
How to get a photo of Sheikh Zayed Mosque with water in front?
You might have seen impressive photos like the photos below of Sheikh Zayyed Mosque with water in front. The good news is, this is not AI, this photo is real!
This location location is across the road though, it’s not part of the mosque as it can seem like in some photos, and it’s a stadium with a wide water pond. The location is Wahat al Karama which has 3 war memorials.
It’s very close to the mosque but I remember being so tired and hot all of my visits that I’ve never actually made the effort to go!
For Sheikh Zayed Mosque photography, Wahat al Karama is the best place to visit, especially at sunset to get the reflection of the mosque in the water.
9. Visiting Sheikh Zayed Mosque on Fridays
If you plan to visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on a Friday and you are not Muslim, it is worth noting that the Sheikh Zayed Mosque visiting times on Friday are 09:00 am to 12:00 pm (with the last admission at 11:30 am), then again from 3:00 pm. to 10:00 pm (with the last admission being at 09:30 pm).
For non Muslim visitors, if you can visit outside of Friday’s this is best because although the Mosque reopens later after the required Friday prayers at lunchtime, Friday is an important day for Muslims and you’ll find more people come to pray at sunset and in the evening on Fridays than other days of the week.
If you are Muslim, Friday is a great day to visit Sheikh Zayed Mosque and I recommend attending for Jummah Prayer. I believe Jummah Prayer at Sheikh Zayed Mosque starts at 1:15 pm and make sure you give yourself time to get there, park and get through security.
10. Sheikh Zayed Mosque Videography Limitations
There is a lot of security outside and inside of the mosque keeping an eye on what visitors are doing.
I was filming with my camera and mic recently outside of the mosque for a vlog and after I’d finished the security guard asked me to stop. A few minutes later one of the mosque staff found me to ask what I was filming.
Because they saw me use my camera and mic with a vlog setup, they advised I needed permission to film, even though I told them it was only for YouTube.
However, if I was filming the same thing with my phone only, I doubt they would have stopped me because it could have been a personal recording or a media one, they don’t know.
So I would advise definitely leaving your mic at the hotel and only bring a big camera if you intend to take photos on it.
If you want to do professional filming, you’ll need to get permission.
11. Places to Visit Near Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque isn’t that close to many of the other tourist attractions in Abu Dhabi, although to be honest that’s both Abu Dhabi and Dubai for you, everything is a bit far from everything.
Some places to visit near Sheikh Zayed Mosque though are:
- New Visitor Center & Plaza at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
- Bani Qasim Mosque – this looks like the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem!
- Abu Dhabi History Museum and Aquarium
- Khalifa Park
- Wahat Al Karama
- Al Qana
12. Sheikh Zayed Mosque Mall
A fairy new addition to the area is the underground Mall and Plaza called New Visitor Center & Plaza at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on Google Maps.
You can access the mosque from inside this underground mall instead of crossing the main road and they have many food and clothing shops to get the modest clothing you need for the mosque and get something to eat before or after.
I actually had time to spare before sunset so I got a manicure and pedicure here at Ponytail Beauty who I recommend!
I hope this has helped you with visiting Sheikh Zayed Mosque!
- For more of my Abu Dhabi and Dubai posts see:
- 40 AMAZING Things To Do in Abu Dhabi
- What To Wear in Abu Dhabi & Dress Code in Abu Dhabi For Tourists
- 5 Must-Try Yas Waterworld Rides in Abu Dhabi!
- 8 Things To Do In Al Ain | Day Trip From Abu Dhabi or Dubai!
- 10+ BEST Excursions from Dubai & Day Trips from Dubai!
- Your PERFECT 5 Day Dubai Itinerary