I first came across this gorgeous white Mosque while perusing through Pinterest a few years ago and I was thrilled when Dubai popped up as a layover from SFO to India via Emirates Airlines. Sometimes when you’re researching flights, it all depends on availability, price and season in which you’re flying. I quickly changed my flight search feature to the Multi-City option and added a 5 day layover in Dubai before heading to Mumbai.
The Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the desert sand dunes were on my list of places to visit, so I wanted to share my experience of getting there and what to prepare before visiting.
About the Mosque
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the largest mosque outside of Saudi Arabia. Not to mistake this mosque like any other mosque, but this one is particularly special because of all its lavishness. Think Las Vegas meets the Middle East. This pristine white mosque you see before you is, I kid you not, but strung with 24-carat gold, Swarovski crystals, marble of course, mother of pearl, amethyst, 82 incredibly clean white domes and the list goes on! The structure rises majestically with beautifully manicured gardens and quickly reminds me of my time at the Versailles Palace gardens in France. This mosque was built because of the first president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed, and the mosque accommodates 41,000 worshippers and is one of the few in the region open to non-Muslim visitors.
The entire place is a work of art and my jaws dropped at every corner. As I was roaming around this structure, I couldn’t help but think about the circus of politics happening in my home country. I don’t want to get in too deep about it, but I know that fear and lack of knowledge can be powerful. One of the reasons why I love to travel is to learn and open my eyes to many different cultures, people, and customs. And regardless of religion or culture, we are all very similar in many ways because we are human.
Saturday-Thursday 9am to 10pm
Friday: 4:30PM to 10pm
For updated hours and days, please visit: Sheikh Zayed Mosque Hours
Also please note times are subject to change during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
What to Wear
I’ve seen a few Instagram posts of past visitors who went to this mosque and noticed they were completely covered in Muslim garb, so I did some research when packing for my trip.
Head, hair, wrists and ankles must be covered and loose fitting. In case you forget to bring clothing to cover yourself, they offer an Abaya dress free of charge to use while touring the grounds. Since I wanted to look cute for photos, I brought my own outfit to cover up in 🙂
No tank tops and no shorts.
Complimentary Tour Guides
If you’re interested in learning about the Mosque and Islamic culture, you can reserve a free tour at the East Side of the Mosque. They run every hour and it’s totally free!
Once you get to the entrance, you’ll be asked to remove your shoes before entering the mosque. Since I wore sandals, I brought a pair of socks to put on.
In respect to the culture, stay covered up and keep your hair hidden. Some girls would quickly take their Abaya’s off for photo opps when the guards weren’t looking. I was so embarrassed to know they were American. It’s disrespectful given the fact that we are even allowed to visit a religious place at all.
Food and Restrooms
There are also public restrooms and an air-conditioned cafe for lunch in case your hungry.
How to get to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque from Dubai
I took a taxi to the IBN Battuta Bus Station. Taxis around proper Dubai are quite cheap compared to American and European standards. Buses to Abu Dhabi run every 15-30 mins, so I snagged a ticket at the station and waited for the next bus to arrive.
Once you arrive Abu Dhabi bus station, there are a line of taxis available, so I had one take me to the mosque. I only went to Abu Dhabi for the mosque, so as soon as I was done, I went straight back to Dubai the same way. It’s a direct bus ride from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and took about 1:15 hours one way.
Bus total cost: $12USD R/T
Taxi/Uber cost: $10-15USD R/T