Indonesia to send 200 imams to UAE as ambassadors of peace, tolerance

Anjana Sankar /Abu Dhabi Filed on July 9, 2021
Supplied photo

Initiative part of an agreement to increase cooperation in field of Islamic affairs and endowment.

Indonesia is sending 200 imams to the UAE as ambassadors of peace and tolerance, Husin Bagis, the Indonesian ambassador to the UAE, told Khaleej Times.

This initiative is part of an agreement between the two countries to increase cooperation in the field of Islamic affairs and endowment. To that end, both parties have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in January last year.

“Currently, there are only 12 imams from Indonesia in various mosques in the UAE. By next year, we will be sending 200 imams who will serve in UAE mosques,” said Ambassador Bagis.

The Indonesian imams in the UAE are serving in mosques in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Al Dhafrah Region, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain, and Ras Al Khaimah.

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world with over 90% of its 270 million population being Muslim.

The ambassador said he felt it was unfortunate that there are not more Indonesian imams serving in UAE mosques.

“We have a very large number of imams who have memorised the Quran and are highly qualified. These imams will serve as ambassadors of Indonesia and its moderate Islam to the UAE community. Similarly, they will also learn from the UAE model of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence and take it to the public in Indonesia when they return home,” said the envoy.

The imams are handpicked by the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs in cooperation with the UAE Embassy in Indonesia. After reaching the UAE, they will undergo special training in modern approaches to preaching, accepting others, dialogue, tolerance and moderate Islam. They will also learn about UAE culture and how people from various religious and cultural backgrounds coexist peacefully.

When asked, the Indonesian imams in the UAE conveyed that there were challenges that they have to overcome on their arrival to the UAE such as differences in climate, customs, and culture. However, with the support and guidance of the Indonesian Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Indonesian Consulate General in Dubai, gradually they have been able to adapt well until now.

The UAE regularly organises training programmes for imams from various countries to promote ‘moderate Islam’ with religious tolerance and inter-faith dialogue at its centre.


Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a UAE-based journalist chasing global stories of conflict, migration and human rights. She has reported from the frontlines of the wars in Yemen and Syria and has extensively written on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, Iraq and Europe. From interviewing Daesh militants to embedding with the UAE army in Yemen, and covering earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks and elections, she has come out scathe-free from the most dangerous conflict zones of the world. Riding on over 14 years of experience, Anjana currently is an Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times and leads the reporting team. She often speaks about women empowerment on her Facebook page that has 40,000 plus followers.

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