The cruise ship I am working on is travelling around the Middle East, and today we stopped in Abu Dhabi. One of the most famous landmarks here is the Grand Mosque, so what better way to kick off my Abu Dhabi adventures than to pay this place a visit. Because it has become so famous, I wasn’t the only one who wanted to see this wonderful structure, so there ended up being 6 of us sharing a taxi to the Mosque. The ride there took 40 minutes and cost about £45 in total.
As we pulled up, we all went silent because we were busy admiring the giant white mosque that was stood in front of us. We got dropped off and followed the crowds in the opposite direction to the Mosque into a smaller white building. We went down the escalator and then veered off to the left to buy tickets.
Once we had been scanned through, we joined the queues toward security. As expected, to go inside the Mosque you must be covered, all woman were shown into a cloakroom where we were given a cloak with a hood. After covering up, we walked along an underground tunnel which lead us into the Mosque. As we emerged from the tunnel we were greeted with fountains and beautiful lawns.
The Mosque took 10 years to build (1996 to 2006) and took 3000 workers. The decorations are elaborate, with 7 incredible chandeliers made up of millions of crystals and the largest carpet in the world in the Grand Hall. The mosque has a total of 82 domes and is made up of 100,000 tonnes of marble. There was no cost spared in this design, and it indeed is remarkable to see.
Although there is a large open square in the middle, no one is allowed to go inside it. You must walk around the outer perimeters of the Mosque. Every pillar has been hand painted with intricate flowers that really are beautiful, but what’s really amazing is that they all look the same, even though they were done freehand and individually.
This is the resting place of Sheik Zayed. He is buried in the grounds, although you cannot visit his specific resting place. I spend most of my time being blown away by all the small details. The Mosque had a sense of purity to it, maybe it’s because it is all white, but it is a very peaceful place to be. It took us an hour to walk around with photo stops.
When to go
To enter the Mosque you just need to get a ticket, which is free of charge.
Saturday to Thursday tourists are able to visit the Mosque 9 am to 10 pm. On Friday mornings the Mosque is only open for worshippers, and then re-opens for tourists at 4.30 pm.
During Ramadan, the Mosque is open to tourists Saturday to Thursday 9 am to 2 pm and will be closed all day Friday.
What to wear
You must dress respectfully to visit the Mosque, which should be loose clothing that covers the body.
For women, Abaya’s are available. I was wearing loose clothing that covered everything, but I needed an Abaya because my ankles and my hair were on show. Most women wear Abaya’s, so just go to the Mosque expecting you will have to wear one.
For men, there is a gown rental room underneath the car park. You must leave your drivers licence when borrowing the gown, and you will get it back when returning the gown.
Not many men were wearing this, so really, I think you just do it if you want to.
Things to note
With the Abaya over your clothing, it is boiling. The prayer halls are well air-conditioned so if you find your self overheating, find a prayer hall.
There is a coffee club nearby if you are wanting refreshment after your visit.