The UAE is home to some of the most peaceful and culturally diverse cities in the world. Even with a growing population of international expatriates living in rental apartments in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and other cities – the country is predominantly Muslim. This makes the UAE home to some of the most spectacular mosques in the world.
Mosques that are places of worship for Muslims, were previously not open to the idea of allowing people of other religion inside. However, as times changed, over the years an increased focus on tolerance and brotherhood has led most of these mosques to open their gates to non-Muslims. Guided mosque tours in the UAE are popular with both residents and expats who are keen on developing an understanding of the local culture.
They offer a unique insight into Islamic architecture, history, and elements of worship for those who are keen to explore this unique segment of this religion.
Mosque Tours for Non-Muslims in Abu Dhabi
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
With minarets that kiss the sky and astounding 82 domes that complement them, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is an architectural marvel. Spread across 22,400 square metres, the mosque boasts miles of gorgeous floors covered in ice-white marble that gleams every time the playful sun rays touch it. This is the UAE’s largest mosque and ranks third among the world’s largest mosques. Everything about the mosque, from its intricate décor and gilded columns to its capacity and the Swarovski chandelier is downright majestic. It’s safe to say that your visit to Abu Dhabi is pretty much incomplete if you don’t visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It is undoubtedly one of the best mosque tours in the UAE – something you should definitely look forward to.
With the growing popularity of mosque tours in the UAE, it is now fairly easier to get your hands on a properly guided tour of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Regardless of what religion you belong to, you can enter the mosque for free. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque administration conducts free guided tours multiple times during the day, but these tours are usually conducted in large groups. Alternatively, you can purchase tickets for small group guided tours with an Emirati historian as your guide. Abayas and other modesty clothing are also available in the mosque. We would highly recommend that you wear full-sleeved, covered outfits to maintain the decorum of the religious sanctuary. Details of the paid guided tour are as follows:
- Timings: 09:00 am, 10:30 am, and 12:00 pm
- Days: Every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday
Another option is to tour the mosque on your own. However, in this case, you will not be able to access the restricted areas of the mosque that are otherwise accessible through guided tours. The mosque can be visited anytime between 09:00 am and 10:00 pm from Saturday to Thursday. On Fridays, the mosque opens for visitors after 04:30 pm.
Mosque Tours for Non-Muslims in Dubai
Jumeirah Mosque Tour in Dubai
Jumeirah Mosque is one of the most beautiful mosques in Dubai. The dominant landmark is the perfect depiction of medieval Fatimid architecture infused with modern Islamic traditions. Carved and completed entirely in stone, the structure is a tribute to modern Islamic architecture. The inherent beauty of the Jumeirah Mosque makes it one of the most fascinating mosque tours in the UAE. These tours are a part of Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding’s efforts to promote cultural understanding of the Islamic religion.
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding operates mosque tours to the Jumeirah Mosque under the ‘Open Doors, Open Minds’ initiative. The policy is designed to knit different religious communities together into a strong fabric of society. The entire tour normally takes 90 minutes with a Q&A session to wrap it up.
- Tickets: AED 10*
- Timings: 10:00 am
- Days: Every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday
* Children should be at least 5 years old to be eligible for the tour.
Al Farooq Omar Bin Al Khattab Mosque Tour in Dubai
Built in 1988 and rebuilt in 2011, Al Farooq Omar Bin Al Khattab Mosque in Dubai holds a prominent stature for upholding Islamic traditions, teachings and traditions for years. In an attempt to share this rich Islamic culture with the outside world, the mosque joined other mosque tours in the UAE to welcome non-Muslims into its premises. The entire building complex includes the mosque and an Islamic Centre equipped with an impressive library that holds the wealth of Islamic teachings.
Tours at this mosque are conducted by the resident cultural guides of Al Farooq Omar Bin Al Khattab Mosque & Centre. These tours are different from other mosque tours in the UAE. They specifically impart firsthand knowledge about the history and architectural designs of the mosque. The specific decor and paintings engraved in the walls of the mosque with their intertwined Arab customs also make an interesting subject of discussion for this tour which lasts about 60 minutes.
- Timings: 10:00 am to 11:00 am; 04:15 pm to 06:00 pm
- Days: Sunday to Thursday
- You need to make reservations for the tour. Contact the mosque on +971-4-394-4448
Mosque Tours for Non-Muslims in Sharjah
Al Noor Mosque in Sharjah
Talking about other popular mosque tours in the UAE for Non-Muslims, the Al Noor Mosque in Sharjah is an excellent experience owing to its distinct Ottoman design. The city of Sharjah has 600 mosques spread across its different regions. The Al Noor Mosque stands out because of its architectural magnificence and its ideal location. This mosque overlooks the Khalid Lagoon, giving it a quaint waterside charm that adds to its overall splendour.
The Al Noor Mosque in Sharjah was the first mosque to operate mosque tours in the UAE for non-Muslims. It could be clearly labelled as a pioneer in this domain. These mosque tours started back in 2011 and still continue to date. The tours that last for approximately 60 minutes are conducted by Sharjah Centre for Cultural Communication and include complimentary qahwa. There is usually no registration required for them as long as you make it to the mosque before 10:00 am. This tour is ideal for non-muslims living in rental apartments in Corniche Al Buhaira or the adjoining vicinity.
- Tickets: Free
- Timings: 10:00 am
- Days: Every Monday and Thursday
The mosque can also arrange private tours between Sundays and Thursdays. A request for that needs to be made at email@example.com.
Things to Keep in Mind for Mosque Tours in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and sharjah
For a lot of you out there, one of these mosque tours in the UAE might be the very first time you enter inside a mosque. It is, therefore, imperative to ensure that you follow the necessary protocol required to be permitted inside the mosque. This quick guideline should have you covered for all that.
- You need to dress modestly. Keep the following in mind when it comes to choosing an attire to wear to a mosque in Dubai or the rest of the UAE.
- For women, this means your attire should be loose and long. You need to properly cover your legs and arms and you wear a scarf that covers your head throughout the tour.
- Men must completely cover their bodies all the way to their knees. Wear clothes that adequately cover your shoulders. Take special care to conceal any visible tattoos that you may have on your body.
- With most mosque tours in the UAE, the relevant mosques provide abayas and hijabs for women to appropriately cover themselves. These articles are provided free of cost.
- You cannot roam around the mosque in your shoes. Deposit your shoes at the designated cubbies stationed at the entrance of each mosque. You may wear socks if you’re not comfortable walking around barefoot.
- Most mosque tours in the UAE take place in the day time and the sun is harsh at that time. Wearing sunscreen and sunglasses is advisable. Also, try and keep yourself hydrated.
- You cannot take food, drinks, alcohol, cigarettes and lighters inside the mosques.
Are you a non-muslim living in the UAE who has visited a mosque before? Tell us about your experience on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are going with a Muslim tour guide, know that he/she may need a break to offer prayers in the mosque. If you need an uninterrupted tour, keep a track of prayer time in Dubai before you book your tour.
For more interesting tours and events from all around the UAE, stay tuned to Dubai’s top property blog – MyBayut.