UAE churches see housefull attendance
Dubai - People of various nationalities come together.
Residents flocked to churches across the UAE to attend the Christmas Mass on Monday and Tuesday.
At St. Mary's Catholic Church in Dubai, with Fr Arul Edward (OFM Cap) leading the service for the sick and the elderly at 3.30pm on Christmas Eve, Indian expat Susan Gervin arrived with her young daughter.
She has been coming to the parish for 35 years, since she was a child. "My husband has not been keeping well so we wanted to attend the service for the sick and the elderly to pray for him. It's good to come and pray at times like this."
Every year, her family attends the Christmas services and it's a tradition she hopes to pass on to her daughter.
Ugandan visitors Emmanuel Alema and Ivan Kiwalazi marked their fifth visit to the church on Monday. Over in Dubai on a three-month visit visa, St Mary's Catholic Church was one of the first buildings they visited.
"It was important we found a church we could come and pray out. And Christmas Mass to us is a tradition, so we made it a point to come here. We may not be at home for Christmas, but we can pray for our friends and family to have a blessed celebration," Alema said.
For Kiwalazi, the opportunity to attend a Christmas Mass away from home has been eye-opening. "We are going to attend the service being held in Arabic. I will not understand, but what a blessed experience to see such a service! Different people from different countries, all praying together - this is not something we see back home, it's a special privilege for me."
Traveling one-and-a-half hours from Al Ain to Dubai for a short break, Filipino expat Godwin Ganibi said he always attended Christmas Eve mass. "I've been coming to this church for eight years. I sometimes head over to Christ Church in Jebel Ali too. I chose to travel from Al Ain to Dubai because my friends come here and it's a parish that has been close to my heart for years."
Additionally, he said "a lot of his prayers have been answered" coming to this particular church.