The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is one of the very few places of worship that holds significance for the followers and enjoys being treated as a prominent tourist attraction as well. With its 82 gleaming domes of various sizes, the architecture of the mosque gives a tough competition to state of the art shopping malls and skyscrapers in the neighboring states and does not fail to remind you of Aladdin and the Kingdom of Agrabah.
Let me walk you through the grandeur of supposedly the largest mosque in the region and let you in on a few tips that might come in handy.
Now that you have read that twice, don’t get all excited, I know what I am typing. BYOH means bring your own hijab laydeez, unless you want to end up looking more like a a jedi master, wearing a burqa/hoodie hybrid which by the way also felt like a burqini at one point because of the super stretchy nylon it was made up of. The mosque follows a strict dress code and these hijabs will be given to you by the administration before you step into the premises of the mosque. There is no way you can avoid these if you haven’t gotten your own. I’d say BYOH
- For hygiene reasons; Remember the mosque has around 5.8 million visitors yearly and I’m assuming these hijabs are not dry cleaned daily.
- Even if they are dry cleaned and disinfected and sterilized, trust me, a body hugging abaya makes you extremely unappealing to look at and it kills the beauty of the original garment. Don’t even get me started on the colors you will have to choose from. Thanks to these guys there is one ensemble I have lost all my confidence in.
- The nylon hijabs do not let any amount of air in, so be prepared to sweat profusely and detox more physically than spiritually.
- Men would love to know that they are also expected to dress appropriately(which means no shorts) or else you shall be asked to wear the arabic traditional thawb to cover those lovely legs.
PDA is Haram!!
Yes that’s right, think those poses through for your instagram and do not try to get all mushy with your mehrams because chances are someone will spring at you for even putting your arm around your spouse. The administration holds a very conservative view against public display of affection and you will find signs all over the mosque reminding you to behave yourself and people to ensure that you respect the sanctity of the place.
The mosque is open for visitors between 9 A.M to 9.30 P.M which relatively gives a decent amount of time to the tourists to explore and an opportunity for them to appreciate the intricate details such as the largest chandelier in the main hall and subsequently the beautiful hand knotted carpet which is also the largest in the world. However on Fridays the mosque opens for visitors after the Friday prayers i.e 4 p.m
The Mosque at Night
With its gold gilded domes that reflect the sun light in all directions, the gleaming white structure is like an energy emitting diode during the day, but as soon as the sun starts to set and the visitors become scarce, the mosque turns into the most magical site. The perfectly lit corridors, the reflective pools and the subtle lighting on the exterior makes you want to take a good long last look at it.