UAE leaders wish Christians across the world a Merry Christmas

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed send out some seasonal goodwill on Christmas Eve

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The leaders of the UAE have each wished a Merry Christmas to Christians across the country and the rest of the world.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, delivered their festive greetings on Twitter on Christmas Eve.

"Congratulations to all Christians in the world on Christmas ... May God bless everyone with goodness, peace, health and love," Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said: "We would like to wish all of our Christian brothers and sisters in the UAE and around the world a peaceful and Merry Christmas."

As with many religious festivals during the year, Christmas celebrations will be greatly disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Christians in the Emirates are determined, however, to make the most of the occasion in challenging circumstances.

Thousands of worshippers are expected to visit churches in Abu Dhabi after registering for Christmas Mass.

There will be strict protocols in place to keep the congregations safe.

The faithful wearing masks will sing hymns and recite prayers during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.

More than 18,000 people booked places at 64 services at St Joseph’s Church in Abu Dhabi over three days from Thursday.

Many church services across the country will also be held on Zoom.

The video calling service - which has rose to prominence during the pandemic - will also help keep families  connected even if separated by thousands of miles.