In pictures: Christmas spirit grips the UAE

Dubai - The spirit of Christmas in the UAE has always been about love and tolerance.



On Christmas Eve, thousands of Christian expats trooped to various churches - from St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Abu Dhabi, to St. Mary's Catholic Church, Dubai; St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Jebel Ali; St. Michael's Catholic Church in Sharjah and other churches across the country. (Photo by M. Sajjad/KT)
On Christmas Eve, thousands of Christian expats trooped to various churches - from St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Abu Dhabi, to St. Mary's Catholic Church, Dubai; St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Jebel Ali; St. Michael's Catholic Church in Sharjah and other churches across the country. (Photo by M. Sajjad/KT)
Mass services were held in various languages, including Arabic, English, Filipino, French, Polish, Italian, Spanish, Urdu, Hindi, Sinhalese, Malayalam, Konkani, Sri Lankan, Tami, Korean and African. (Photo by Shihab/KT)
Mass services were held in various languages, including Arabic, English, Filipino, French, Polish, Italian, Spanish, Urdu, Hindi, Sinhalese, Malayalam, Konkani, Sri Lankan, Tami, Korean and African. (Photo by Shihab/KT)
Roughly 10 per cent or one million of the country's population are Christians, with majority being Catholics from the Philippines, India and African nations. There are also numerous Orthodox or Eastern Christian churches and religious denominations in the UAE. (Photo by M. Sajjad/KT)
Roughly 10 per cent or one million of the country's population are Christians, with majority being Catholics from the Philippines, India and African nations. There are also numerous Orthodox or Eastern Christian churches and religious denominations in the UAE. (Photo by M. Sajjad/KT)
This is a testament that Christmas in the UAE is a symbol of tolerance. It is also a time of compassion, giving, sharing and connecting with family and friends. (Photo by Ryan Lim /KT)
This is a testament that Christmas in the UAE is a symbol of tolerance. It is also a time of compassion, giving, sharing and connecting with family and friends. (Photo by Ryan Lim /KT)
'The spirit of Christmas in the UAE has always been about love and tolerance. There are only a few mega cities in the world where one can see a Catholic church holding mass services while the minaret from a nearby mosque is calling the faithful for Azan (prayers),' Matilyn Bagunu, conductor and director at St. Mary's Filipino Community Choir, told Khaleej Times. (Photo by M. Sajjad/KT)
"The spirit of Christmas in the UAE has always been about love and tolerance. There are only a few mega cities in the world where one can see a Catholic church holding mass services while the minaret from a nearby mosque is calling the faithful for Azan (prayers)," Matilyn Bagunu, conductor and director at St. Mary's Filipino Community Choir, told Khaleej Times. (Photo by M. Sajjad/KT)
'We are blessed that here in the UAE, we can freely express our faith and there are places of worship that the UAE Government has given us,' added Christopher Edralin, another churchgoer at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Oud Metha, where around 25,000 Filipinos attended the nine-day Simbang Gabi which started on December 15. (Photo by Shihab/KT)
"We are blessed that here in the UAE, we can freely express our faith and there are places of worship that the UAE Government has given us," added Christopher Edralin, another churchgoer at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Oud Metha, where around 25,000 Filipinos attended the nine-day Simbang Gabi which started on December 15. (Photo by Shihab/KT)
Christmas is made even more special as the multi-cultural country is united in celebrating a festival with all its spirituality and gaiety. (Photo by Shihab/KT)
Christmas is made even more special as the multi-cultural country is united in celebrating a festival with all its spirituality and gaiety. (Photo by Shihab/KT)
Brightly lit Christmas trees, wreaths, glowing fairy lights and other colourful decorations decked the halls as well-wishers exchanged gifts and greetings.  (Photo by Shihab/KT)
Brightly lit Christmas trees, wreaths, glowing fairy lights and other colourful decorations decked the halls as well-wishers exchanged gifts and greetings. (Photo by Shihab/KT)
And the festivities are made complete with traditional Christmas meals, all-you-can eat buffets and festive servings of food at home.  (Photo by Ryan Lim /KT)
And the festivities are made complete with traditional Christmas meals, all-you-can eat buffets and festive servings of food at home. (Photo by Ryan Lim /KT)
Merry Christmas, everyone! (Photo by M. Sajjad/KT)angel@khaleejtimes.com
Merry Christmas, everyone! (Photo by M. Sajjad/KT)angel@khaleejtimes.com

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