A synonym for peace and serenity in my dictionary, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi, is one place you must visit when you are in the Emirati capital. Words cannot describe the feeling you get once you are inside this holy premise. The sheer scale of this architectural masterpiece overflowing with divinity and holiness would touch you to the core and leave you wonderstruck for a long time to come. Please make sure to read the photography tips for visiting the Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi at the end of this post.
Strategically placed at the entrance to Abu Dhabi City Island, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is visible from the approaching roads with its four towering minarets. The largest mosque in UAE and 8th largest in the world welcomes all visitors with open arms promoting a culture of love, tolerance and mutual exchange of cultures. Crafted to perfection with over a million ton of pure white expensive marbles from different parts of the world, it offers a prayer space for 40000 people at one time. The mosque is surrounded by impeccably designed gardens and crystal water reflecting pools. The white marbles reflecting in the crystal water adds another dimension to the splendor of this place.
We went there at late afternoon which is one of the best time to visit the Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi. As the sun goes down the horizon, the final moments of the fading light create the most beautiful panorama you can ever dream off. If you are a photography enthusiast, this could be your best time too. The beauty of this whole place gets amplified at the golden hour. At dusk, as the lighting comes up, the reflections in the pool makes the scenery even more stunning. Everything turns glowing red in the special lighting. Behold the lighting system. It’s not just any ordinary lighting system but a special one designed to reflect the phases of the moon.
We spent a lot of time just idling around the outer courtyard (Sahan) laid down in marble mosaic. It took more than 30 million pieces of marbles in 37 different shades from different parts of the world to create this 17400 square meters white marble floor interlaced with colorful floral patterns. It felt so good to just sit there and breathe in the peace and harmony.
After about 2 hours exploring and photographing the outer courtyard and the encircling arcade, finally, we decided to move inside.
The interior of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is as breathtaking as the outdoors. As soon as you step in the main prayer hall, it becomes evidently clear that countless hours had been dedicated to design each and every corner of this place. The floor inside the main prayer hall is covered with the world’s largest hand-knit Persian carpet . 1200 artisans toiled for 12 months to hand weave this 5700 square meters masterpiece in an Iranian village under the guidance of third generation carpet maker and artist Dr. Ali Khaliqi.
While you are engrossed in the beauty of this masterpiece trying to run down your eyes along the magnificent design don’t forget to roll your eyes up for another masterpiece hanging by the roof. A look towards the roof inside the main prayer hall, and you will be left flabbergasted at the sheer size of the main chandelier hanging from the roof. Weighing 12 tons, and considered to be one of the world’s largest, it’s made of gilded stainless steel and gilded brass with approx. 40kg of 24 karats galvanized gold. On top of it, there’re glass panels studded with glittering Swarovski crystals.
We spent about an hour exploring the intricacies of the design work and photographing the carpet and the chandeliers in all the different innovative angles that we could imagine.
By the time we came out it was dark outside. The lighting came on and changed the scape altogether. The glowing marble domes and arches reflecting from the pools on the eastern entrance was pure bliss to watch. We clicked a lot of photographs here. Make sure to carry a tripod if you are interested in night photography.
Visiting the Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi – Timings & Etiquette
Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi is open to visitors on all days. From Saturday to Thursday its open from 9 am to 10 pm. Friday mornings are for prayer and visitors are allowed only after 4.30 pm to 10 pm. The timings are little restricted during the holy month of Ramadan and you can check the official website for that. Be sure to dress properly. It’s the first step towards showing respect. Boys, no shorts, please 🙂 . Females are required to cover their head and wear ankle length dresses. If you don’t have one you can borrow it from the basement for no fee.
Taxis are cheap and the best means of transport to get here from the city.
Visiting the Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi – Photography tips
1. Best time for photography is late afternoon to dusk. You can arrive around 4pm.
2. Check the website for prayer timings so that you can plan accordingly.
3. Bring a tripod for some steady night shots
4. Be aware of any boundaries or barriers or any no photography signs. You don’t want to annoy a guard on duty.
5. The reflecting pools by the eastern entrance are an amazing place to take some classic night shots.
6. A wide angle lens might be the perfect way to photograph the Sahan because of its enormous size. Wish I had one at that time.
7. The shadows from the minarets moving with the sun can create a very lively time lapse composition if you include them in your frame. I checked a video on this and it looks stunning.
8. If you decide to include yourself in the picture, pose with dignity. There is news of celebrity being asked to leave the premise after taking photos. Google it.
9. Keep calm and keep shooting. The place is real quiet and sometimes photographers have a tendency to get loud in excitement with each perfectly clicked photo 🙂 . Happened to us 😉
Hope this post will help you in planning and visiting the Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi in the most awesome way. If you liked the post, we would humbly request you to share this.
Signing off for now……