Abu Dhabi / WAM
The Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi organised a ceremony on Sunday to award licences for the existing 18 non-Muslim places of worship in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Licences for five other places of worship were also announced in the ceremony.
The event aimed to highlight the DCD’s vital role in regulating places of worship in Abu Dhabi in accordance with Resolution No. 59 of 2018, issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
In his speech, Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, DCD Chairman, affirmed that the ceremony to hand over the licences of the non-Muslim places of worship underscored the efforts of Abu Dhabi in fostering the principles of fraternity, affinity and harmony among all segments of the society.
“The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE, was keen to establish a cohesive society in which everyone participates to build, develop and upgrade the nation. The late Sheikh Zayed also paid attention to all sects of society. This has made Abu Dhabi to be a unique model in safeguarding human rights to having a dignified, safe and stable life”, Dr. Mugheer said.
“Our wise leadership, under the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is keen to provide all means of dignified living for the members of community, and to secure their needs and rights in full, so as to enhance their role in advancing the development,” he said.
DCD Chairman said that since its inception, the department was keen to provide a “decent life for all” and to ensure integration in the social sector, by providing the highest standards of welfare and happiness for all segments of the community and improve their quality of life.
The houses of worship in Abu Dhabi have been the historical and cultural monuments of the emirate for decades. Abu Dhabi is home to the St. Joseph Church, founded in 1960s. In addition, Sir Bani Yas Church and Monastery was the first Christian site to be discovered in the UAE.
Sultan Al Mutawa, Executive Director of DCD Community Engagement and Sports Sector, said the ceremony shaped new concepts of fraternity and synergy. The DCD is keen to strengthen the social harmony among all segments of the community, he said.
“Emirate of Abu Dhabi embraces a community of diverse cultures and nationalities, united by the spirit of love, giving and service towards the nation. Accordingly, the DCD, in cooperation with its partners, has developed legal frameworks, policies, and regulations, which ensures that believers of all religions practise their religion conveniently and smoothly, in accordance with the laws and regulations applicable in the UAE, without compromising the authenticity of UAE customs and traditions”, Sultan Al Mutawa added.
The DCD pointed out that it had met with all those in charge of places of worship, as well as a number of religious figures representing different religions and sects, and they were introduced to the conditions and policies that must be met in order for places of worship to obtain licences.
Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, DCD Chairman, handed over the licences to representatives of the houses of worship at the ceremony.
Representatives of the places of worship praised the DCD efforts towards facilitating the procedures of licensing, together with other government agencies. This reflected the UAE’s image as a cohesive society, they said.
The ceremony featured a creative presentation that simulated the harmony and cohesion of the community. The presentation highlighted the religious, cultural and demographic diversity in the emirate and the harmony and social integration that characterised Abu Dhabi community throughout in its history.
The timeline of the history of the places of worship in the emirate was also presented at the event, reflecting social cohesion among the citizens of all religions in the UAE for decades, as well as the extent of coexistence and fraternity among individuals.