Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi

The Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan Mosque (more often called Sheikh Zayed Mosque) is the largest mosque in the UAE. Huge and all white, it catches immediately the eyes and the mind of those arriving in Abu Dhabi.

Presentation and characteristics

This large white mosque is located at the entrance of Abu Dhabi island, on Airport Road, just before Maqta Bridge when you come from city centre. 

It is truly immense, and its location (near the motorway) makes it immediately noticed by all visitors.

Its construction began in 2000 and finished in 2007, and cost more than USD 1 billion (various estimates place it between 500 million and $ 2 billion). As late as 2011, the gardens around the mosque and the entrances of the park are being finalized.

The walls and ceiling of the mosque are entirely in white marble. In the vast courtyard paved with white marble, colored marble with floral motifs adorn the corners.

Stats & Records

To better realize the size of the building, here's some numbers:

  • The mosque can accommodate up to 40,000 persons
  • It consists of 82 domes of seven different sizes,
  • The courtyard is 17,000 square meters,
  • This is the seventh largest mosque in the world,
  • The 4 minarets are 107 meters high.
Emiratis are crazy about world records of all kinds. They can build almost anything if the building has a chance beat a world record.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque holds two official world records:
  •  the world's largest carpet, handmade, which is 5627 square meters. It weighs 47 tonnes (35 of wool and 12 of cotton), is made of 2.268.000.000 nodes (over 2.2 billion) and has required over 1,200 specialized workers.
  • the largest chandelier in the world; it is 15 meters high and 10 meters in diameter.
Note that both of these records were previously held by the Sultan Qaboosh Mosque in Oman.

Visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Mosque is open to visitors and even non-Muslims can visit. In addition, visits are free.

It is open every day except Friday (day of prayer in Islam) and Saturday afternoon. The interior is also closed to non-Muslims at prayer times. Guided tours, also free, start at 10am and in the afternoon.

You must be appropriately dressed to visit the mosque, meaning that men must wear long pants and long sleeves (although short sleeves are relatively tolerated in summer), and women must wear the abaya and hijab. Abayas and hijabs are provided free of charge at the entrance to the mosque.
Do not forget to remove your shoes before going inside.

Other details, non-Muslims are not supposed to touch the Quran. So be careful not to touch the Quran placed inside the mosque.

The photos are allowed inside and outside.

Tomb of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder and first president of the United Arab Emirates, who died in 2004, is buried in a small courtyard close to the mosque.
He is buried in a very simple tomb, in a small memorial outside the mosque. 

It is not allowed (guards are carefuly watching) to take photos of his grave.
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