Photos: First look inside UAE's new Dh11-million CSI church

The church has been built on 4.37 acres of land, and stands opposite the BAPS Hindu temple


Ashwani Kumar

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KT Photos: Ashwani Kumar
KT Photos: Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sat 27 Apr 2024, 7:19 PM

Last updated: Sun 28 Apr 2024, 4:54 PM

The Church of South India (CSI) Parish, seeking to promote the message of peace, love and harmony, is ready for the soft opening of its first facility in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, priests and officials said.

The new Dh11 million building will be inaugurated with a dedication ceremony on Sunday afternoon and will last till the evening hours. Rt. Rev. Dr Malayil Sabu Koshy Cherian, the Bishop of Madhya Kerala Diocese of the CSI, will lead the ceremony, which includes a Thanksgiving meeting.

“We thank the benevolent rulers of the UAE for providing freedom to the expatriate community here in practising different religions and faiths, and giving land and approvals for construction of places of worship,” Bishop Cherian said during a press conference at the new church building.

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The church has been built on 4.37-acres of land in Abu Mureikha, gifted by President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The new building is located opposite the BAPS Hindu temple, which was inaugurated on February 14. The area has been now named the Cultural District.

“If you look the opposite side, you will find a Hindu temple, and from there you see this Christian church, and this is a Muslim nation. This highlights the UAE’s values of inclusion, tolerance, and religious harmony. This is beautiful and an inspirational message for humanity,” Bishop Cherian underlined.

The earth-toned building with elevation representing the wings of angels has been designed by legendary Egyptian architect Maher Lamie, who runs Architectural and Engineering Consultants in Abu Dhabi. Lamie, the renowned Christian architect, is known for designing unique structures, including palaces, towers, places of worship, government buildings, and more across the world.

Rev. Lalji M. Philip, Vicar of the Parish, noted that the main hall has been built in a round shape signifying the continuous circle of God’s blessings and the front elevation is in the form of two wings of angels.

“This is designed in the guardian angel concept. It highlights that the love of God is for all,” Vicar Philip said.

In the main hall, inspiring and sacred stories from the Holy Bible have been beautifully captured in stunning stained glasses.

“The interior features 10 huge stained glasses displaying key incidents from the old and new testaments,” Vicar Philip said.

The Parish has 750 members in Abu Dhabi and about 5,000 across the UAE. Overall, more than 880 worshippers can be accommodated inside the 12,000 sq ft church complex.

“The main prayer hall with benches has a seating capacity of 600 worshippers, and a further 150 people can sit on the balcony. There is a ‘Bethel’ common hall to accommodate 100 people and a children’s area with a capacity of 35 people, including parents,” Johnson Thomas, secretary of CSI Parish, Abu Dhabi, said.

The church complex also features two handmade Bohemian crystal chandeliers.

“These Slovakian chandeliers were shipped in. By night, its glowing reflection can be seen everywhere inside the church,” Reji John, vice-president of the CSI Parish, Abu Dhabi,

As many as 50 core team members were involved in the church project. George Mathew, Cherian Vargheese, and Biju John, among the church building committee, were present during the press conference.

On Sunday, the ceremony is an invite-only event. The Thanksgiving meeting will have representatives from the BAPS Hindu temple and the Department of Community Development – Abu Dhabi.

From May 5 onwards, prayer service will be held at 9.30 am every Sunday. It will be open to people of all faiths, and open on all days.


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