Six Grand Mosques to Visit on Your Windstar Cruise in the Middle East

Windstar Cruises offers nearly two dozen exciting itineraries to the Middle East, with a number of shore excursions visiting world-famous architectural wonders in Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar. Mosques are undoubtedly some of the most popular tourist attractions, many of which are palatial structures decorated with marble and sparkling with jewels. (Please note: visitors are asked to dress modestly when entering these places of worship, keeping their shoulders and knees covered, and in many cases, women may be asked to don a head scarf.) 

These are some of the grand mosques Windstar visits across the Middle East:  

Sultan Qaboos Mosque (Khasab, Oman)

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque serves as a majestic tribute to Islamic architecture and Omani culture, and it is one of the most famous mosques in the Middle East. Named after Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, this mosque is a masterpiece of craftsmanship and devotion. Constructed between 1995 and 2001, the mosque can accommodate nearly 20,000 worshippers between its interior and exterior spaces. Its colossal dome and towering minarets reflect the magnificence of Islamic design, and the interior boasts the world’s second-largest handmade Persian carpet and a massive crystal chandelier. Beyond its architectural brilliance, the mosque holds deep spiritual significance for Omanis and visitors alike. The “Khasab, Omani House Walking Tour,” which features a trip to the Sultan Qaboos Mosque, is available on the following cruises: Sparkling Sands & Cities of the Persian Gulf, Wonders of Arabia, Dubai In-Depth & Persian Gulf Cruise Tour and Emirates, Qatar & the Span of Oman. 

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)

Dominating Abu Dhabi’s skyline with its stunning architecture, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is an iconic symbol of faith, culture, and innovation in the United Arab Emirates. Named in honor of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the visionary founder of the UAE, this mosque is a dazzling testament to Islamic artistry and global unity. The mosque can accommodate over 40,000 worshippers, and it is the largest in the UAE. Completed in 2007, the mosque’s white marble façade is adorned with intricate floral designs, reflecting the grandeur of traditional Islamic architecture. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has approximately 1,000 columns, all covered with more than 20,000 marble panels that are inlaid with semi-precious stones, including lapis lazuli, red agate, amethyst, abalone shell and mother of pearl. The mosque’s interior is equally breathtaking, featuring the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet and a chandelier adorned with millions of Swarovski crystals. The “Abu Dhabi City Tour,” which visits the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, is available on the following cruises: Sparkling Sands & Cities of the Persian Gulf, Dubai In-Depth & Persian Gulf Cruise Tour and Emirates, Qatar & the Span of Oman. The “Night Tour of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque” excursion, which features stunning illumination of the main prayer hall and façade, is also available on the Sparkling Sands & Cities of the Persian Gulf cruise. 

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (Fujairah, United Arab Emirates)

Also named after the UAE’s founding father, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Fujairah is the second largest in the Emirates, with a capacity for 28,000 worshippers. Completed in 2015, the mosque’s grand dome and towering minarets create a mesmerizing skyline against the backdrop of the Hajar Mountains. The mosque’s intricate craftsmanship, highlighted by elaborate calligraphy and delicate floral patterns, further reflects the UAE’s dedication to preserving Islamic artistry. The “Fujairah, Treasures of the East” tour, which visits the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, is available on the Dubai In-Depth & Persian Gulf Cruise Tour and Emirates, Qatar & the Span of Oman cruises.

Al Mustafa Mosque (Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt)

Set on the picturesque coastline of Sharm El Sheikh, the Al Mustafa Mosque, also known as the “Big Mosque,” is a hub of worship and community for locals and visitors alike. Its construction was fueled by the vision of Sheikh Ali Ahmed Abu Al Hassan, a respected religious figure, and its completion in 2005 marked a significant addition to the city’s cultural landscape. Built in the traditional Islamic style, the Al Mustafa Mosque has domes and minarets that grace the skyline. As an embodiment of Sharm El Sheikh’s harmonious blend of modernity and tradition, a visit to this mosque offers an enriching experience that transcends religious boundaries and exemplifies the warmth and hospitality of Egypt’s coastal paradise. The “Sharm El Sheikh City Tour,” which visits the Al Mustafa Mosque, is available on the Wonders of Arabia and Arabian Nights & Egyptian Days cruises. 

Jumeirah Mosque (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

Opened in 1979, the Jumeirah Mosque is the only mosque in Dubai open to non-Muslim visitors, making it one of the most popular attractions in the bustling metropolis. Constructed in the traditional Fatimid style, this mosque is not only an architectural gem but also a bridge between Islamic heritage and the cosmopolitan essence of the city. With its intricate white façade and twin minarets, the Jumeirah Mosque exudes elegance and grandeur. The mosque’s guided tours offer a unique opportunity to delve into Islamic customs and practices, granting visitors an insight into the spiritual fabric of the region. The “Dubai City Tour,” which visits the Jumeirah Mosque, is available on the Wonders of Arabia for guests transferring to either the airport or a local hotel. 

King Faisal Mosque (Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)

Recognized as the cultural capital of the Arab world by UNESCO, Sharjah boasts some of the most remarkable architecture in the UAE, including the King Faisal Mosque. Named after Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, this mosque is a fabulous example of modern Islamic architecture. Built in 1987, the mosque’s design showcases intricately crafted domes, minarets, and geometric patterns that pay homage to Islamic artistry. The mosque can hold nearly 17,000 worshippers, 12,000 of which can be seated. The second floor is occupied by Sharjah’s Department of Islamic Affairs and Awqaf, including a general library, with 7,000 books on Islamic history, culture and scientific works. The “Ras al Khaimah, Concierge Collection Heart of Sharjah Tour,” which visits the King Faisal Mosque, is available on the Sparkling Sands & Cities of the Persian Gulf cruise. 

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