The most beautiful mosques in Dubai
It’s no surprise how fascinating mosques are to non-Muslims, the sheer elegance and beauty of the buildings, architecturally stunning and the lessons on Islamic culture they hold within.
Whilst the call to prayer may prick the attention of many a visitor to Dubai, I bet you have you been curious, can I actually go inside a mosque?
Unlike many other religious buildings around the world, as a non-Muslim, you should not simply walk up to a mosque in Dubai and expect to be allowed in. Mosques – also known as Masjid in Arabic – in Dubai are first and foremost a house of worship, not a tourist attraction.
That said, there ARE a few mosques in Dubai and two others in the UAE that allow non-Muslims to visit, not only admiring their beauty from outside but providing tours and education programs within.
The most famous that visitors to Dubai are likely to be aware of is the Grand Mosque. By this, we mean the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which is actually located in neighbouring city Abu Dhabi, a bit over an hour away from Dubai.
Whilst it is possible to visit Abu Dhabi and the Grand Mosque on a day trip, those tight on time may be looking at options readily available with the city of Dubai. (We will cover how to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque later in this post!)
Note there are also different timings and rules during the Holy Month of Ramadan
Dubai mosques that allow access to non-Muslims
So which beautiful Dubai Mosques will permit you to enter as a non-Muslim?
The most well-known mosque in Dubai has been welcoming non-Muslim visitors for educational purposes for many years. Their motto is “Open doors, open minds”.
Guided tours are arranged daily (except Friday’s) by The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. They last for 75 minutes and include refreshments.
Did you know… the Jumeirah Mosque adorns the back of the 500 Dirham note!
- Entry: 35 AED
- Timings: 10:00 am & 2:00 pm
- Pre-booking not essential but recommended you arrive 30 minutes before
- Every day except Friday
- Learn more at cultures.ae
The SMCCU also orgainse cultural experiences and heritage tours in Dubai’s Al Fahidi Historical District.
Al Farooq Omar Bin Al Khattab Mosque
Built in the late 1980s and renovated in 2003 and 2011, Al Farooq Omar Bin Al Khattab Mosque in Dubai is another mosque in the UAE to welcome non-Muslims. The building complex includes not only a mosque but an Islamic Centre equipped with an extensive library on Islamic teachings. You can learn here about Muslim culture, medicine, art and science as well as Quran lessons.
From the exterior, you will see four distinctive minarets of 65-meters. Its great dome measures a staggering 30 metres high and huge stained glass windows flood the interior with light. Whilst named after Umar Bin Khattab, the building is said to be inspired by Istanbul’s Blue Mosque with it’s Andalusian and Ottoman style. But don’t be mistaken, it is not one of Dubai’s “Blue Mosques” more on them below!
Tours at this mosque are conducted by the resident cultural guides of Al Farooq Omar Bin Al Khattab Mosque & Centre. The focus of the tours is on the history and architecture of the mosque, along with the painting and engravings and lasts for one hour.
- Entry: Free
- Timings: 10:00 am and 4:15 pm
- Daily except for Friday
- You need to make reservations for the tour. Contact the mosque on +971 4 394 4448
- Learn more at alfarooqcentre.com
Grand Bur Dubai Masjid
Also known as the Grand Mosque (not be be confused with the one in Abu Dhabi), this Grand Mosque can be found in the Bur Dubai area, opposite the Dubai Museum. Situated in the oldest neighbourhood, it is one of the largest mosque in Dubai, as well as the highest in Dubai with 70m tall minarets. It was originally built in 1900, replaced by a newer mosque in 1960 and rebuilt again in 1998 to resemble the original mosque of 1900. It can house 1,200 worshippers.
Whilst you cannot enter the Grand Mosque Bur Dubai as a non-Muslim, you can marvel at the architecture from outside. The Minaret is of Anatolian architecture and the tallest in the city, non-Muslims have permission to climb it for stunning views over old Dubai.
Other interesting mosques in Dubai
Although not open to the non-Muslim public, amongst the 1400+ mosques in Dubai there are many other notable mosques in that capture the eye of visitors that you may be interested in viewing from outside, these include:
Iranian Mosque (Imam Hossein Mosque)
Located on Al Wasl Road in Jumeirah, this is the most famous Shia mosque in Dubai, also known as the Persian Mosque. The mosque was founded by the Iranian community in Dubai in 1979, with the aid of the Iranian Red Crescent. The architecture is inspired by quasi-Fatimid with Persian influences.
Non-Muslim visitors are reportedly allowed into the mosque on guided tours 4 times per week however we have been unable to verify this information with timings as at early 2020.
Iranian Mosque (Ali In Abi Talib Mosque)
Located in the Bur Dubai district, near to the textile souk this is the second “Iranian Mosque” in Dubai, built with the distinctive Persian-style architecture; distinctive blues, greens, yellows and reds in beautiful floral patterns and tiled calligraphy of Quranic quotes.
Non-Muslim visitors cannot come inside this Shia mosque, however, external photography of the facade is permitted. You can spot is apart from the other Persian Mosque in Jumeirah as it lacks the two distinctive minarets and large wooden doors.
Al Salaam Mosque
Located in the Al Barsha area, near to Mall of the Emirates, this mosque catches the eye for its stunning red exterior, with white accent features and gold domes and balconies on its minarets. The architecture has been influenced by both Ottoman and Emirati culture and design features. Opened in 2014, the mosque can accommodate 1500 worshippers. Not open to the public.
Khalifa Al Tajer Mosque
Said to be Dubai’s first eco-friendly mosques, located in Deira the mosque can house 3,500 worshippers. The architecture is based on traditional Emirati Bedouin styling for cooling. It may look more “simple” than other mosques in Dubai but is notable for its size and energy efficiency in the bustling older corner of the city. Not open to the public.
Masjid Al Rahim
Masjid Al Rahim is one of the newest and most beautiful mosques in Dubai to capture the eye and curiosity of visitors. Opened in 2013, it is the only Mosque in Dubai Marina. It is particularly notable at night when its golden domes and blue minarets light up the city skyline. Not open to the public.
Another among the most beautiful in Dubai, Zabeel Mosque in Zabeel Park opened in 2012 with a capacity for 4,000 worshipers. Not open to the public.
Other UAE Mosques of interest
The entire of the UAE is said to have over 5,000 mosques. The vast majority do not accept visitors, however here are some notable exceptions or places of history, importance and beauty you may like to include on a trip around the United Arab Emirates:
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi
As we mentioned at the outset, although not in Dubai, certainly one of the UAE’s most famous buildings is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The utterly stunning white marble structure with an impressive 82 domes sits proudly at the entrance to Abu Dhabi island.
Covering an impressive 22,400 square metres including internal courtyards, with the ability to house over 40,000 worshippers at once, it the third-largest mosque in the world. Apart from a mosque, it is also the resting place of the country’s Founding Father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan; two Imams read the Quran over his resting place 24/7.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is open 7 days a week (Friday’s afternoons only) for non-Muslim visitors. Entry is free as are guided tours (see timetable here), though they have recently added guest registration which can be done online or at the venue, bring photo identification. Guests are provided with the appropriate attire to attend the mosque.
The easiest way to see the Grand Mosque from Dubai is to join an organised tour, either entirely dedicated to seeing the Grand Mosque such as this tour, or as part of a tour through many of Abu Dhabi’s cultural attractions.
There are, of course, options to hire a car, take a taxi or navigate the Intercity Bus and Abu Dhabi public bus system. We explain each of these options in much more detail here.
If you are after truly stunning photos of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, our top tip is to self-drive in order to arrive either before opening time (9:00 am Saturday to Thursday), or come much later in the afternoon when the sun is setting. It can still be crowded at this time but nowhere near as busy as mid-morning when most tour buses from Dubai arrive en masse.
- Entry: Free (register online or when you arrive)
- Timings: Sat to Thu 9:00 am to 10:00 pm
- Friday’s 4:30 pm to 10:00 pm
- Ramadan: 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
- Learn more at szgmc.ae
Al Noor Mosque
Situated in neighbouring Sharjah, this stunning Ottoman-style mosque completed in 2005 was the first to open it’s doors to non-Muslim visitors. A guided one hour tour can be arranged by Sharjah Centre for Cultural Communication and include complimentary qahwa (Arabic coffee).
Not only architecturally beautiful, but the mosque also overlooks the Khalid Lagoon which adds to its stunning splendor and easily accessible from the other cultural highlights in the Heart of Sharjah.
- Entry: Free
- Timings: 10:00 am
- Every Monday and Thursday
- Learn more at visitsharjah.com
Newly completed in 2019 it is one of the newest and most impressive mosques in the UAE. It is now Sharjah’s largest mosque with grounds covering 185,000 square meters, the Mosque can take 25,000 worshippers.
Whilst the inside is for worhsippers only, guests are invited to admire the mosuqe from the track that runs around the entire mosque complex.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Fujairah
The largest mosque on the UAE’s eastern coast and second largest in the country, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque covers an area the size of three football pictures. The mosque has six minarets each 100 meters high and the great prayer hall has space for 32,000 worshippers. It is not open to the public.
Bidyah Mosque, Fujairah
Dating back to 1446 AD, this is believed to be the oldest mosque in the UAE. The mosque, constructed of mud and stone, is tiny and whilst non-muslims are not allowed to enter, it is possible to catch a peep of the interior through the doors.
The mosque still hosts daily prayers and all visitors to the site even from outside should dress modestly (women should cover their hair as well as their arms and legs). The Mosque can be seen as part of an east-coast UAE day trip.
Still to come… Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Mosque
Based in the regional city of Al Ain, the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Mosque named after the country’s current ruling President will become one of the largest in the country upon it’s opening, housing 20,000 worshipers.
Things to keep in mind visiting a Dubai Mosque
It is essential you follow the necessary protocol to enter a mosque even as a non-Muslim:
- Dress modestly:
- For women, this means arms and legs covered, as well as a scarf that covers your head. Some tours will provide women with the necessary abaya including the shayla or head scarf. If wearing your own clothing, keep it long and loose.
- Men must cover beyond their knees (though full-length trousers preferable) and have shirt sleeves.
- We have a complete guide to appropriate attire in Dubai here.
- Shoes must be left in cubbies outside the entrance to a mosque. Socks may be worn if you do not want to walk around barefoot.
- It should go without saying, you cannot take food, drinks, alcohol or cigarettes inside mosques.
Before you go… more important information planning a trip to Dubai
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Dubai, a handy guide on what to pack and top tips for first-timers on the do’s and don’ts, laws and customs to be aware of.
- Pick up a Dubai Pass to save up to 50% on top Dubai attractions
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!!!
- Discover the best areas to stay in Dubai, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here: