Skip to Content

Can you visit Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque with children?

Can you visit Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque with children?

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the most popular place to visit in Muscat. And no wonder. Its architecture, scale and atmosphere are a heady mix that leaves a lasting impression on worshippers and tourists alike. But can you can visit Sultan Qaboos Mosque with children?

This is always at the front of my mind when we visit iconic places where lively or grumpy kids are the last thing anyone wants to see. Or so us guilt-ridden parents tell ourselves.

We visited Oman’s largest mosque at the end of our seven day road trip around the north west of the country.

Read more about visiting Oman with kids in my comprehensive travel guide for families.

Here’s our experience there with a ten and eight-year-old along with some tips for going yourself.

Can children visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque?

Our family stood on a blue carpet in the main prayer hall at the Grand Mosque with the two storey high chandelier behind us

Before we arrived at the Grand Mosque I’d done a bit of research about visiting with children.

From what I’d read elsewhere children could visit. However, kids under the age of 10 were not allowed in the prayer halls where some of the most impressive features can be seen.

So I wasn’t sure how much we’d get out of our visit.

However, when we arrived our guide told us that the rule about children under 10 only applied during prayer times.

So, if you are there to visit rather than pray, children can go into the Grand Mosque’s prayer rooms and everywhere else that is open to visitors.

Making the most of your visit the Grand Mosque in Muscat

View of the mosque dome through an archway. In the foreground there is an alcove decorated with a colourful mosaic

We’re a family of agnostics – we very much sit on the fence about God – but when it comes to experiencing places of religion and the artistry around different beliefs and cultures we are fans.

During our travels we’ve wandered around the gothic grandeur of Catedral de Barcelona in Catalonia, marvelled at Luke Jerram’s Gaia at Exeter Cathedral and admired the work of Di Vinci, Botticelli and Raffaello in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

All are incredible spectacles that we wholeheartedly recommend.

However we know that as adults we engage with these places in a different way to our girls. Especially when they were toddlers and pre-schoolers.

Three high sandstone arches with a view of mountains beyond

So, how do we bring these places to life for them?

In the past we’ve done this with the help of family tour guides, taking part in kids crafting activities alongside exhibitions, using trail sheets or coming up with our own list of things to spot.

The Grand Mosque in Muscat doesn’t offer these things, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from it if you are looking for things to do in Oman.

To help I’ve put together a free spotter sheet that you can download before your visit as well as some facts to share with your children and other activities to keep them entertained.

10 facts for kids about Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Elaborately decorated colours and huge chandelier of the Main Prayer Room inside Oman's Grand Mosque

My eldest daughter loves facts – so do I – and there are some epic ones about the Grand Mosque in Muscat.

Share these 10 facts about the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque to pique your kids’ interest before your visit:

Fact 1

The Grand Mosque was a gift to the people of Oman from the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said. All Muslims can pray here and anyone of any religion or none can visit for free.

Arabic lanterns hang along either side of a marble and sandstone corridor at the mosque

Fact 2

The Sultan Qaboos Mosque was built over six years. There was a design competition to decide what it would look like and it has won several international design awards since opening.

Exterior of the marble and sandstone mosque with rows of bushes in front. To the right is the tallest minaret and to the left is the dome of Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Fact 3

The Grand Mosque’s 90 metre minaret is the tallest structure in Oman. No other building is higher.

Fact 4

The chandelier in the main prayer room is eight metres in diameter and 14 metres high – that’s as big as a two-storey house.

The two storey high chandelier made of Chrystal hanging in an elaborately decorated dome

Fact 5

The chandelier is decorated with 600,000 Swarovski crystals and 1,122 light bulbs. A crane is used to clean them.

Fact 6

The central dome rises 50 metres above the men’s prayer hall.

Looking up at the mihrab alcove at the front of the main prayer room. It is intricately decorated with blue, green and yellow mosaic
The Mihrab at the Grand Mosque

Fact 7

The mihrab (the alcove that indicates the direction of Mecca) in the mens prayer hall has a secret door on either side. These are what the Imam (the prayer leader) uses to reach the front of the hall and the minbar where he stands to deliver the sermon.

Intricate mosaic walks of the mihrab with he faint outline of a door on the left
Can you spot the hidden door?

Fact 8

The Iranian carpet in the main prayer hall took 600 women four years to weave and weighs 21 tonnes.

Fact 9

The main prayer room can hold 6,500 men, while the women’s prayer room can hold 750. Overall, 20,000 people can come to the mosque to pray indoors and out.

A ride on floor cleaner is being driven around a marble courtyard at the Grand Mosque

Fact 10

The Grand Mosque is also a place for learning. It has a library with more than 23,000 books about Islamic culture, natural science, art and philosophy.

If you want to share more facts about Islam with your children Twinkl has some great free and subscription resources about Islam.

Activities to do with your kids at the Grand Mosque in Muscat

Here’s some activities to do with your children as you explore to keep them engaged and entertained:

Count the minarets

Fountain in the gardens of the Grand Mosque in Muscat

Spoiler alert: there are five. The mosque’s towers represent the five pillars of Islam:

  • faith in one God
  • prayer
  • almsgiving
  • fasting during Ramadan
  • and pilgrimage.

Spot script from the Qur’an

A sandstone archway decorated with Arabic script with the tallest minaret in the background

Throughout the Grand Mosque you’ll see walls, floors doors and ceilings decorated with geometric and floral designs. Look closely and you’ll also see Arabic script adorning the building.

These are verses from the Qur’an.

Don’t step on a crack

A view through marble paved gardens with fountains and conifer trees towards the dome of the Grand Mosque

You could challenge your children to carefully step from one marbled floor tile to the next without standing on the join.

Copy your favourite pattern

Child sat in alcove decorated with mosaics

There are lots of shady spots in the grounds of the Grand Mosque where you could sit with some pencils and paper to recreate one of the patterns you’ve spotted on the carpet, in the mosaics or on the exteriors of the buildings.

A place to do this with patterns in front of you is underneath the covered walk ways down each side of the mosque complex.

Find out more about Islam

Another place to take a seat and reflect is the Islamic Centre which is on the left inside the Mosque complex as you walk in.

There’s a team of volunteers here who will answer any questions your children may have about the mosque or Islam.

They are extremely welcoming to people of all faiths and will offer you water, coffee and dates.

Look up

A view from below of the two storey high chandelier made of Chrystal hanging in an elaborately decorated dome

Finally, looking up is always a must when you visit places of worship and the Grand Mosque is no exception.

One of the best spots to do this is in the men’s prayer hall directly under the chandelier.

FREE Grand Mosque spotter sheet

Here’s a spotter sheet that I’ve put together including some of the features, materials and points of interest you’ll see.

Download it before you visit the Grand Mosque.

Tin Box Traveller's Grand Mosque spotter sheet
Ⓒ Tin Box Traveller – Grand Mosque spotter sheet

More handy things to know about Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Here’s some more information about Muscat’s Grand Mosque to enrich your visit:

When was Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque built?

This incredible place of worship was a gift to the people of Oman by the last Sultan whose name it bears. 

It is a work of art that took six years to build starting in 1996. When it was opened by the Sultan in 2001 it boasted the largest handmade carpet in the world and the biggest chandelier. 

A close up of the flora patterns on the Persian carpet in the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat

The UAE and Qatar have now snatched both titles, but this in no way diminishes the awe-inspiring spectacle of this mosque. It has to be seen to be believed.

The design is overwhelmingly Arabic but there are influences and materials from around the world.

Alongside Omani granite and marble, 30,000 tonnes of Indian sandstone were used in the mosque’s construction. The chandelier was made in Italy as were the stained glass windows along the walls of the mens prayer room.

Chandeliers and orange doors in the women's prayer room at the Grad Mosque in Muscat

The mosque also has a more modest prayer room for women. It is smaller because traditionally women pray at home. It is mainly used on Fridays, which is the Islamic holy day.

There are male and female wash rooms that each worshiper visits before they go to pray. They use cold water to wash their faces, including their mouths and noses, their hands, arms and feet.

Guides at the mosque

We hired a guide inside the mosque to get the full story. He was full of facts, ready to answer questions and enthusiastic to take our picture in all the popular vantage points.

We visited the Islamic Centre after our tour where we were offered water, coffee and dates while learning about Islam. They have a range of free books exploring the religion that you are encouraged to take away.

How much does it cost to visit the Grand Mosque?

There’s no charge to enter and you don’t need to pay for a guide. If they have time, the volunteers in the Islamic Centre can take you on a tour for free.

Dress code when visiting the mosque

Our family stood in a marble courtyard inside the Grand Mosque in Muscat. Behind us in the tallest minaret

Men and women need to wear clothing that fully covers legs and arms. Women must also cover their hair, so bring a scarf.

If you do arrive in clothes that don’t meet these requirements you can hire an abaya at the shop at the entrance.

Wear shoes that are easy to remove. You’ll need to take them off to enter the prayer halls. There are shoe racks around the entrances to both the mens and woman’s prayer rooms.

Marble corridor with wooden shoe racks on either side

When is the Grand Mosque open?

You can look around between 8am and 11am Saturday to Thursday, even during Ramadan. Allow at least an hour and a half for you visit.

You might also like to check out our tips for visiting Oman during Ramadan. It’s the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and the dates change every year so it’s important to know when it is and what to expect.

Eating, drinking and smartphones

It’s not permitted to eat, drink or use your smartphone for phone calls in the prayer rooms. You can take smartphone pictures.

Where is Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque?

How to get there

The Grand Mosque is situated in Al Ghurbah South – a 15 minute drive from Muscat International Airport. A lot of Oman tours will make it their first stop because of this.

If you take a taxi from the airport or your accommodation make sure they use their meter or you agree the fare before you set off. Taxis aren’t cheap but you will find lots of them about.

If you want to use public transport bus route 12 stops on the N1 highway within a 10 minute walk of the mosque. Find connections on the Moovit App.

More things to do in Muscat

For something completely different, take a look at my guide to visiting Snow Oman in the Mall of Oman.

More reading about visiting Oman with kids

Got a bit of time to explore Oman with kids? Take a look at our recommended things to do in Oman.

Here’s some more popular places we’ve been:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.