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Abu Dhabi

Non-Muslim cemetery now has a digital archive

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi
Filed on January 28, 2020 | Last updated on January 28, 2020 at 07.03 am
non muslim, cemetery, digital archive

(Ryan Lim/KT)

Khalifa University of Science and Technology showcased a 'digital repository' for the Sas Al Nakhl Non-Muslim Cemetery.

A Somali national, who died of HIV AIDS on May 7, 1987, aged 31, was among hundreds of expats who were buried at the first non-Muslim cemetery in the Capital.

Mulu Alem Asefa, a Roman Catholic, was buried at the Sas Al Nakhl Non-Muslim Cemetery on May 11, 1987, when the disease was not known.

Her grave at the now-closed Sas Al Nakhl graveyard is also the final resting place for many Abu Dhabi residents, including British military commanders, politicians and Chinese and Indian labourers.

On Monday, Khalifa University of Science and Technology showcased a 'digital repository for the cemetery' - touchscreens offering details of those buried at the graveyard - to various religious leaders as part of the university's initiative to celebrate the values of tolerance in the UAE. The cemetery project is a perfect illustration of the UAE's diverse and inclusive culture, and the values of co-existence and peace, according to officials.

Religious leaders representing Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox and other Christian churches, as well as leaders from Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist faiths attended the event, during which they acknowledged the efforts behind the project.

The touch-screens provide details of the deceased, buried at the cemetery from the early 1960s to 2012. According to available records, around 492 known people, including 349 men and 143 women, were buried at the cemetery between 1963 and 2012. Since 2012, all non-Muslim burials have been shifted to the Bani Yas Graveyard. As many as 313 identified people of 15 known faiths were buried at the graveyard, including Christians, Hindus, Anglicans, Buddhists and other religions.

Dr Athol Yates, an assistant professor at Khalifa University's Institute of International and Civil Security who led the research team, said the project is aimed at creating a digital screen where people can click on a grave and view details.

The touchscreen offers details of a deceased individual, such as name, religious affiliation and other information as catalogued from the death certificates. Users will be able to view an aerial photograph of the cemetery showing the location of graves, as well as background information about the cemetery, statistical details and relevant information.

The touchscreen also makes it easy to access the full list of identified people buried at the cemetery, with location of individual graves and tombstones.

Ismail Sebugwaawo

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