Sheikh Zayid Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE

The magnificent Sheikh Zayid Mosque in Abu Dhabi is one of the most magnificent mosques in the world. Made of snow-white marble and decorated with floral elements, precious stones and mother-of-pearl, it is supposed to depict paradise.

The Sheikh Zayid Mosque is located in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and is the third largest mosque in the world. The magnificent building is one of our top 10 sights of Abu Dhabi and top 10 sights of the United Arab Emirates.


The massive mosque at the south-eastern end of Abu Dhabi's main island was officially opened in autumn 2007 after 11 years of construction and named after Emir Zayid bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the co-founder and first president of the United Arab Emirates. He was buried on the grounds of the mosque after his death.

PICTURES: Sheikh Zayid Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Photo gallery: Sheikh Zayid Mosque in Abu Dhabi

The Sheikh Zayid Mosque was to be built as an image of paradise. The sheikh gave the architects and builders specific instructions, which he had taken from descriptions of paradise in the Koran. And indeed, the magnificent Sheikh Zayid Mosque in the colour of peace seems like a paradisiacal fairy tale from 1001 Nights when it appears like a mirage in the desert dust around Abu Dhabi.

Massive dimensions of the Sheikh Zayid Mosque

Only the finest materials were used in the construction of the Sheikh Zayid Mosque, including 15 different types of precious marble and vast amounts of gold leaf, Abu Dhabi, UAE - © Laszlo Halas / Shutterstock
© Laszlo Halas / Shutterstock

The site of the Sheikh Zayid Mosque covers an area of 56 hectares, the mosque itself reaches the gigantic dimensions of 224 by 174 metres and can thus hold up to 40,000 worshippers.

The beautiful snow-white mosque is dominated by an enormous main dome, which, with a diameter of 32 metres, is considered the largest mosque dome in the world. It rises 75 metres above the prayer hall, but is still surpassed by the four slender minarets, which rise as high as 107 metres into the sky.

In addition to the two large secondary domes, 40 other smaller domes crown the roof of the Sheikh Zayid Mosque.

Only the finest materials were used for the construction of the mosque, including 15 different types of precious marble and vast quantities of gold leaf. It comes as no surprise that the construction costs of the Sheikh Zayid Mosque amounted to 545 million US dollars. Incidentally, 350 million of this came from the Sheikh's private fortune.


Spectacular interior of the Sheikh Zayid Mosque

Interior view of the magnificent Sheikh Zayid Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE - © azhuvalappil/Shutterstock
© azhuvalappil/Shutterstock

In the sun-drenched interior of the mosque, the overwhelming splendour continues. The prayer hall Sheikh Zayid Mosque has room for 7,000 male worshippers and houses the largest carpet in the world. At 5,627 square metres, the monstrous work of art is larger than a football field and weighs close to 50 tonnes. Over 18 months, 1,200 weavers worked on its 2.2 billion knots.

The world's largest chandelier hangs above the world's largest carpet. The enormous LED chandelier is 15m high and 10m wide and adorned with breathtaking decorations of gold and Swarovski crystals sparkling in all colours. The two separate prayer rooms, each for 1,500 women, are a few more intricately designed.

In accordance with the Sheikh's wish to depict paradise in the Sheikh Zayid Mosque, the snow-white marble columns are decorated with colourful floral vines and date palms made of mother-of-pearl and semi-precious stones. The mihrab, the prayer niche facing Mecca, is crowned by a sun with golden lines symbolising the "rivers of honey that run through the sky".

Sheikh Zayid Mosque by night

The Sheikh Zayid Mosque in Abu Dhabi is beautifully lit at night, UAE - © Andrzej Fryda / Shutterstock
© Andrzej Fryda / Shutterstock

The surroundings of the Sheikh Zayid Mosque are also absolutely worth seeing. In order to create a fantastic mirror effect at night, illuminated reflection pools have been created that showcase the mosque in a spectacular way. The mosque is also embedded in an idyllic park of green spaces and hundreds of palm trees.

Tip: The breathtaking splendour of the Sheikh Zayid Mosque is best explored on a free guided tour, which takes place every morning except Saturdays and lasts 60 to 90 minutes.

Rules of conduct in the Sheikh Zayid Mosque

The Sheikh Zayid Mosque site covers an area of 56 hectares, Abu Dhabi, UAE - © creativei images / Shutterstock
© creativei images / Shutterstock

When visiting a mosque, the general rules of Islam must be taken into account, which are somewhat stricter or looser in each mosque.

At the Sheikh Zayid Mosque, long sleeves and long trousers or ankle-length skirts are considered appropriate attire for a visit to the mosque. Those who are not adequately dressed are given a black cloak before entering the mosque. Shoes are removed before entering the holy ground.

The Koran and the architectural elements of the prayer hall may not be touched. Holding hands, kissing or other intimate gestures are prohibited inside the mosque walls, as are photography and filming, eating or smoking.

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Official website of the Sheikh Zayid Mosque in Abu Dhabi