Abu Dhabi's stunning Abrahamic Family House will be lasting legacy of historic papal visit

The striking place of worship will bring together the faiths of Islam, Judaism and Christianity when it opens its doors next year

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The Pope's historic tour of the UAE two years ago will live long in the hearts and minds of all who witnessed the joyous celebration of religious unity.

But even when warm memories of the landmark occasion slowly begin to fade as the years pass, the legacy of Pope Francis's arrival will remain.

On February 5, 2019, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, announced that the milestone visit of the pontiff and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb would be commemorated with the construction of a building dedicated to inter-faith harmony.

The Abrahamic Family House, in Abu Dhabi, was to act as a striking symbol of co-existence between people of all denominations and backgrounds.

Its construction in the heart of the capital of the UAE - a country home to dozens of nationalities peacefully practicing a number of faiths - was fitting.

As the Emirates looks back on Pope Francis' successful visit to the UAE, here is everything you need to know about the Abrahamic Family House currently taking shape on Saadiyat Island.

A house where all are welcome

The Abrahamic Family House is being built in tribute to the Abrahamic religions, drawn from the prophet Abraham, revered in Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

The three pillars of the Abrahamic religions are honoured in the form of three striking structures - a mosque, a church and a synagogue – all leading to a central garden under which will sit a museum and centre for education.

While the places of worship are the same height, the designs and interiors will be significantly different.

The development became even more pertinent last year when the UAE agreed to forge diplomatic ties with Israel.

Who designed the stunning site?

Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye. Courtesy Alex Fradkin
Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye. Courtesy Alex Fradkin

Award-winning architect Sir David Adjaye was tasked with the responsibility of bringing the multi-faith centre to fruition.

The Ghanaian-British designer said it was a "profound moment' when he was commissioned to mastermind the ambitious project.

“This is a really special project that hits on the trinity of this Abrahamic faith that is influencing over half the world's population,” he told delegates at an online session of the World Economic Forum Forum last month.

"This new initiative by the head imam, the Pope and the head rabbi of the region ... for the [leadership] of Abu Dhabi to commission this incredible project to make a statement about commonality is a very profound moment.

Mr Adjaye was awarded the 27th Annual Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum for being an important storyteller “of our time”.

A place of learning and worship

The latest gleaming jewel in the cultural crown of Saadiyat Island is set to be a unifying force for good.

It will be a place to learn and open dialogue about other faiths.

Within the three houses of worship, visitors will have the opportunity to learn about religious services, listen to holy scripture and experience sacred rituals.

A fourth space—not affiliated with any specific religion—will be an educational centre where all people can come together to practice the values of tolerance and mutual understanding.

The Abrahamic Family House will host a rich array of activities, including daily religious services and international summits.

When will it open to the public?

The Abrahamic Family House is due to open next year.

In a further demonstration of the UAE's values of acceptance and tolerance, the country's first hindu temple is set to open its doors the following year.