Emirati culture has long upheld the value of inclusivity

The Abrahamic Family House, especially during Ramadan, reminds us that co-existence has always been important to the UAE

The Abrahamic Family House.
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The holiest month in the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a time of profound spiritual reflection for Muslims when prayer and fasting are accompanied by a deep sense of appreciation, gratitude and joy. That is why when we break our fast each day with iftar, everyone is welcome to join in the spirit of shared experience, empathy and communion.

This Ramadan, this spirit resonates more than ever as we embrace our differences and reflect on the fundamental experiences and values we share.

The Abrahamic Family House – home to a mosque, a church and a synagogue, and shared garden and forum spaces that encourage interfaith dialogues – embodies and seeks to foster co-existence, mutual understanding and respect for others. This is enabled by exploring our shared humanity and creating space for encounter and exchange.

It offers a tranquil home for all members of its religious communities to practice their own faiths, while affording opportunities to learn more about each other’s traditions through meaningful conversations. Recognising the shared humanity in our cultural and religious diversity has been the guiding principle from the outset.

The vision and purpose of the Abrahamic Family House stems from essential qualities that are part of the DNA of the UAE and make us who we are. The UAE welcomed travellers, traders and nomadic tribes of all cultures and religions for millennia, as notable archaeological discoveries made across the emirates attest: in 1992, the remains of a 7th century church and monastery were discovered on Sir Bani Yas Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi, and more recently, a second major Christian site has been excavated on Al Sinniyah Island in Umm Al Quwain.

Dating from the pre-and early-Islamic periods, this archaeological evidence tell us that inclusivity within our communities has always been part of the UAE’s DNA, and a founding value of our nation. Our Founding Father Sheikh Zayed embedded cultural exchange, international bridge-building, and dialogue at the heart of his vision for the UAE, and I am deeply proud that the Abrahamic Family House continues to reflect his vision.

Over the past year, we have seen this spirit in action as the Abrahamic Family House’s communities have grown. Over 100,000 worshippers have practised their respective faiths in our houses of worship, while many more have taken comfort in the serenity that pervades its shared spaces and gardens, which imbue all those who visit with a profound sense of peace and renewed feelings of hope.

In celebration of its first anniversary, the Abrahamic Family House unveiled a new mosaic in its contemplative garden. The product of its thriving community, the mosaic features tiles created by individuals who expressed some aspect of their faith, heritage, or personality, arranged in a design that celebrates the beauty of diversity and inter-cultural encounter, exchange, and understanding.

Over the coming weeks, the Abrahamic Family House will also host celebrations of Ramadan, Easter and Passover. Born of different faiths and traditions, these distinctive religious and cultural holidays are unique and yet all three echo shared themes, values and moments, when communities of each respective faith acknowledge cycles of renewal, rebirth and reflection, providing a foundation for recognition and understanding.

Today, the UAE is a place where people from many faiths, over 200 nationalities and walks of life can reside in harmony. In that same spirit, the Abrahamic Family House offers a place of serenity, hope, and comfort where they can celebrate their own unique festivals, holidays, and traditions, while acknowledging the fundamental human values we all share with each other.

This is only the start of a journey that needs all of us to contribute and carry forward the responsibility of peaceful co-existence. The essence of the Abrahamic Family House is as a beacon of hope and a place of potential that provides us all with an example of how striving for mutual appreciation and understanding can change hearts and minds – allowing us to live, grow, and thrive together for many years to come.

Published: March 18, 2024, 4:00 AM