interior view at night the Sheikh Zayed grand mosque

11 Top Tips for Photographing the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

by Abu Dhabi Travel Planner Team

Nestled within the heart of Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque stands as a testament to unparalleled architectural prowess, spiritual reverence, and the seamless confluence of past and present.

Spanning over 30 acres, it is not just one of the world’s largest mosques, but also a magnificent canvas that showcases the intricate beauty of Islamic design. Capturing this marvel through a camera lens requires more than just technical skill; it demands an appreciation for its deep-rooted cultural heritage, delicate artistry, and the stories that echo through its marbled halls.

This article delves into the nuances of photographing this monumental masterpiece, offering insights and tips to ensure that every click not only captures an image but also narrates a tale of Emirati grandeur.

Photographing the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

  • Absolute number 1 rule; remain respectful of where you are at all times.  Group shots, wandering onto the central courtyard without permission, and gratuitous selfies are prohibited as it is a house of worship; no one wants a Rihanna incident!
  • It can be hard work, especially for the ladies trying to get the right pose (for your camera, not your selfie) but not reveal your skin! Wearing something long under your abaya will reduce accidental skin reveals and prevent tellings off from security, who will be vigilantly watching.
a women wearing an abaya at the grand mosque with her body voered underneath in long clothing
  • For the best chance of getting a crowd-free shot, you must be there for the opening time at 9:00 a.m. Late evenings after Isha (final prayers) can be quieter, too, for some moody, reflective shots.
night time blue hues of the grand mosque over a relective pon in Abu Dhabi
  • It’s really hard to get everything in one shot from up close! If you don’t have a wide-angle lens, you may need to use panorama or stitch features if your smartphone or camera has these.
  • Take some time to appreciate the intricate details around you, instead of just focusing on the big picture. Take a closer look at the delicate marblework, the archways, and the beautiful stained-glass windows. No matter what time of day it is, the light will always interact with you in interesting ways.
internal detail in the marble work of the sheikh zayed grand mosque
  • For the best distance shots, head to Wahat Al Karama. Either drive or taxi over (the roads are a little complicated!) or if parked at the Mosque, head to the front by foot, and you’ll find a footbridge that takes you across the freeway to the war memorial.  Not only will you get to observe another part of the UAE’s very recent history, but you will also get some of the best views of the Grand Mosque over the stunning reflective pond.
a women admiring the views of the sheikh zayed grand mosque taken from wahat al karama abu dhabi
  • The best time to capture stunning photos is during the golden hour, but the mosque tends to be crowded in the early evenings. If you’re passionate about getting the perfect shot, stay until just before closing time, or wake up early and visit Wahat Al Karama at dawn on a clear day. However, it’s important to note that clear days may be rare, and you may encounter some haze and grey skies most mornings.

You can find our complete guide to Grand Mosque opening times throughout the year here

golden sunset relfection of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque ovr the reflection of water in Wahat Al Karama Abu Dhabi
  • In the winter, you can get early morning fog in Abu Dhabi, which makes wonderful moody photos, but it’s hard to predict when this will happen and capture the perfect moment before the fog burns off.
  • Beware of others in your photos; local ladies, in particular, should not be photographed without permission.

More Tips Planning Your Trip to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

We hope this photography guide to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque will help you planning your trip to the grandest building in the UAE. We also recommend you read next:

Before you go… Important things to consider when planning a trip to Abu Dhabi

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