'I came to be inspired by prayers of others': UAE residents hail Abrahamic Family House for breaking interfaith barriers

Ahmed El Tayeb Mosque is open from the first until the last prayer of the day while the church and synagogue are open from 7am to 9pm

By Angel Tesorero

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Published: Sat 25 Feb 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 25 Feb 2023, 10:38 PM

Religious and community leaders in the UAE have hailed the Abrahamic Family House not only as a “physical testament of peace and tolerance” but also as a haven of “love, compassion and cooperation”.

Located on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, the compound is home to a mosque, church and synagogue. It was inaugurated on February 16 and the first Friday prayer was held at Ahmed El Tayeb Mosque the following day; while inaugural religious services at St Francis Church and Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue happened on February 19.

Worshippers have been coming since then to practise their faith. The mosque is open from the first until the last prayer of the day while the church and synagogue are open from 7am to 9pm daily. Visitors are invited to experience each of the three houses of worship and discover the key tenets of each Abrahamic faith.

Shared purpose

Rex Bacarra
Rex Bacarra

Rex Bacarra, a former Benedictine monk and now a faculty member at Rabdan Academy in Abu Dhabi, told Khaleej Times: “Abrahamic Family House does not only promote interfaith conversation and understanding, but it also celebrates the expansive range of cultures and traditions found in the Arab region and globally.”

“Its message of love, compassion and cooperation is critical, and it has the ability to inspire many individuals and communities in the UAE and beyond,” noted Bacarra, adding: “In a world filled with division and strife, the Abrahamic Family House serves as a beacon of hope, proving that with love and understanding, people of different faiths can come together and work toward a shared purpose.


“It can help to break down barriers that often exist between different religious communities. It can foster greater understanding and respect. It’s a distinctive tribute to the UAE’s zeal in promoting inclusivity, religious unity, and inter-faith understanding. The well-designed complex is a wellspring for the UAE’s diverse communities where humanity’s core values are better felt and shared,” he continued.

‘For a better world’

Imam Handoko
Imam Handoko

Imam Handoko from Indonesia, a nurse who has been living in Dubai for 24 years, said: “The opening of the Abrahamic Family House is a good step towards a more peaceful and tolerant world. By recognising our differences, we can build a better world for all. A truly inspiring initiative by the UAE government to promote human fraternity and interfaith harmony. Bravo, UAE.”

The Abrahamic Family House is a product of the signing of the landmark Document of Human Fraternity by Pope Francis and Grand Imam of Al Azhar Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb in 2019.

Heart of Abraham Accords

Liron Zaslansky
Liron Zaslansky

For Liron Zaslansky, Consul-General of Israel in Dubai, “the opening of the Abrahamic Family House as a multi-faith place of worship, holds a historical significance as home of the first purpose-built synagogue in the UAE and the first built in the Arab world for nearly a century. It demonstrates the UAE leadership's deep commitment to coexistence and tolerance, which are among the leading values of the UAE, and are at the heart of the Abraham Accords.”

Ross Kriel, leader of Jewish community in Dubai, added: “As a long-time resident of the UAE, I have always felt deeply embraced and inspired by the leadership, people and ethos of the UAE.”

Ross Kriel
Ross Kriel

He also shared his feeling when he visited Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue on Sunday with Jewish community members and friends. He said: “As one looks upward in the synagogue there is a canopy made from a fabric of bronze. Wondering about its significance I thought of the opening lines that introduce the tabernacle (the portable temple built by the Jews in their exodus from Egypt): ‘Speak to the children of Israel and have them dedicate to me a contribution – these are the types of contribution you should collect from them: Gold, silver and copper.” As a medium, brass reminds us of the enthusiastic contributions that were made by the children of Israel to the Tabernacle of God. It serves in the Ben Maimon Synagogue as a sacred appeal to contribute to and realise the UAE’s expansive vision for humanity.

“A vision that is deeply optimistic about the human capacity for growth, flourishing and mutual care. After the service at the synagogue I stepped into the Ahmed El Tayeb Mosque for a few moments. I absorbed its stillness and the beauty of Sir David Adjaye’s architectural design. I had completed my prayers and came to be inspired by the prayers of others.”


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