There are more than 2,000 mosques in Dubai. Among them, Jumeirah Mosque is the only mosque in Dubai open to non-Muslims 6 days a week (except Fridays) during a guided tour.
The tour by Sheik Mohamed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) is hosted only once a day at 10am. No prior reservation is required. Registration commences at 9.15am before each tour. I was way too early having arrived a good half an hour before 9am. Thankfully they allowed let me and a couple of others into the air-conditioned waiting area before the start of registration. Otherwise, I thought I would have melted in the heat outside.
The interiors of the waiting area was simple but elegant with touches of Emrati style in the furniture and carpets. Books on UAE and its culture were available for browsing on the coffee tables while waiting. For me, I took a turn around the corner where Emrati souvenirs were displayed. They had camel milk chocolates and ice cream for sale too.
The tour cost AED20 per person and we were given some chocolate coated dates. Each date is stuffed with an almond and coated with a layer of milk chocolate. Being produced in Dubai, they make good gifts for family and friends back home.
The construction of Jumeirah Mosque started in 1976 and was completed in 1979. The exterior was built from white stone and crowned with a central dome and two towering minarets. The spacious interior is large enough to accommodate 1,200 worshipers at any one time. Photography was allowed in the mosque and we were, quite unusually, allowed to take as many as we like.
Visitors have to dress modestly to enter the mosque. In addition, ladies are requested to cover their hair prior to entering the mosque. Traditional dress and head scarf can be borrowed at the entrance of the hall. Footwear is to be removed too prior to entering. Though it was in the midst of Ramadan period, the organizers thoughtfully made bottled water available for us at the back of the mosque.
My estimation was that there were around 50 of us there for the tour that morning. Seated comfortably on the carpeted floor, we listened intently as the volunteer guide for our session, Tracy, gave a quick introduction on the mosque. She then went on to explain the 5 pillars of Islam, one by one; brief but concise. Her style of delivering was well-paced and clear, enabling her to keep her audience engaged throughout the session.
There was also a demonstration of prayer.
A 15 minutes question and answer session rounded off the 75mins tour. Questions posted by the visitors were diverse, from the meaning of halal, to Emirati women’s wear; from Muslim men and the possibility of taking 4 wives to questions on pilgrimage to Mecca. There were also questions on the ongoing violence around the world. To this, our guide emphasized that Islam does not condone or promote violence. An interesting fact we learnt was that all imams in all mosques around the UAE are told what to cover during the Friday’s sermons such that the same topic is covered throughout the country.
The semicircular niche in the wall of Jumeirah Mosque where the Imam leads the five daily prayers.
The electronic board showing the different times for the daily prayers.
Even though I have been living among Muslim friends in multi-racial Singapore, this was my first time entering a mosque. I was glad to have such an opportunity to learn about the religion in such a setting too. In the session, I got to learn more about the origins of Islam, Muslims’ beliefs, daily prayers and pilgrimage to Mecca. It went in line with SMCCU’s ‘open doors, open mind’ program that helps in bringing about understanding between people of different faiths.
It was certainly a meaningful way to kick-start my vacation. If you have time whilst in Dubai, do consider making this tour part of your itinerary.
How I got there:
Take the train to Al Jafaliya station and then cross the street to the bus stop opposite the station and board bus X28.
Address: Jumeirah Beach Road,Jumeria 1 – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Telephone: +971 4 353 6666
Operating Hours: 10am (during a guided tour by Sheik Mohamed Centre for Cultural Understanding)