New bus service to cover churches in UAE


New, bus service, churches, UAE, Express public transport, parking, woes, customs duty, visa norms

Abu Dhabi - Religious leaders pointed out the need for free parking, not just on Friday but throughout the week.

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Published: Mon 14 Oct 2019, 5:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 14 Oct 2019, 7:54 PM

 New Express public transport to serve churches, solutions to parking woes, waiver of customs duty and ease in visa norms were some of the services promised by the government entities at a workshop held for religious leaders from non-Muslim places of worship in Abu Dhabi.
Non-Muslim places of worship were recently given legal recognition. And the workshop titled 'Dignified Life For All' was organised by the Department of Community Development - Abu Dhabi to apprise religious leaders about the services rolled out by the government entities.
In a freewheeling chat, representatives from Abu Dhabi Police, Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, General Administration of Civil Defence, Monitoring and Control Centre, Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) and Quick Intervention Department assured full support to the religious leaders.
Need for free parking
A new Express bus X09 will cover churches in Al Karama area from 6am to 9pm with a frequency of 30 minutes every Friday. "This is part of the initiative taken in the Year of Tolerance," said an official from Integrated Transport Centre.
Religious leaders pointed out the need for free parking, not just on Friday but throughout the week.
The ITC official noted there was provision of reserved parking with a fee for certain categories, including places of worship, and urged religious leaders to avail of the benefit.
As the official from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation took to stage, queries flowed: Can part-time workers be allowed to work in churches; Can a priest from another emirate substitute for one on vacation in Abu Dhabi; Can a dead body be brought to church for rites? And so on.
The official said all of it was permitted but only after approval from the authorities concerned starting with the Department of Community Development.
'UAE is the right place for all communities'
Saleh Al Mazemi, director of Tolerance and National Identity, Department of Community Development, told Khaleej Times that he will hold meetings with government entities to find solutions to issues raised at the workshop. "The UAE is an open country. This is the right place for all communities. Come to this country regardless of your religious backgrounds. We will support you as your home country. With this workshop, we aimed to remove the barrier, if there was one, between the government and places of worship. Our purpose is to serve the community. Every place of worship now has more information about immigration laws; what to do during emergency and about other services."
He noted that most religious leaders wanted to "make peace" with Mawaqif - paid parking system in Abu Dhabi. "I understand this is an issue. I will meet Mawaqif and I solve it. Also exemption of customs duty on goods brought from abroad to build places of worship is another request we are considering. I will meet the department concerned and see if the fee can be waived," he added.

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