ABU DHABI: The Abraham Family House in Abu Dhabi, an interfaith complex on Saadiyat Island, opened to visitors today.
The complex, which houses a mosque, a church and a synagogue, has been hosting religious services since its inauguration on February 16 and now also offers guided tours emphasizing the need for interfaith harmony. It also allows non-believers to enjoy the grounds, including a shared garden with 200 native plant species, and soak up its spirit of tolerance.
Named after the revered prophet Abraham in Islam, Christianity and Judaism, the Abrahamic Family House is located in a stunning precinct that will become the cultural heart of the capital. In fact, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, as well as the city’s upcoming museums, are within sight of it and visible from the raised central garden.
Heralded as a symbol of the UAE’s focus on diversity and peace, the complex was designed by British-Ghanaian architect Sir David Adjaye. The facility now houses the Ahmed El-Tayeb Mosque, the Francis Sanctuary and the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue, the first purpose-built synagogue in Abu Dhabi. It is also home to the Human Fraternity Document, signed in Abu Dhabi in 2019 by Pope Francis His Holiness and His Holiness the Grand Imam Dr Ahmed Tayyib.
On 16 February, Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, and Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, Nahyan inaugurated the facility in a sparkling ceremony. The next day, the Abraham Family House hosted its first Peaceful Coexistence Conference.
The first religious services in the three houses of worship took place between February 17 and 19, and worshipers have been able to enter the houses of worship since then.
Notes before visiting
When: The Ahmed El-Tayeb Mosque is open at the times of each of the five Awqaf announced prayers, while the His Holiness Francis Church and Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue are open between 7am and 9pm.
Reservations: Visitors must book a guided tour prior to visiting the facility. Worshipers can enter without an appointment.
Guided tours: Guided tours are available Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Each tour can be booked in English or Arabic through the facility’s dedicated website. Each tour takes about an hour.
Cost: There is no entry fee, and all visitors can enter any of the three chapels. Worshipers may also join services of another faith group as guests.
Dress Code: Visitors must wear clothing that covers the neck, between the elbows and ankles. Tight or body-tight clothing is discouraged, and articles with offensive messages or overtly political expressions and images are prohibited. Women are also required to cover their heads when entering mosques and synagogues, and hijabs are available to borrow at the Welcome Centre.
Not to be missed: be sure to note the commonalities between the three chapels, including the use of five different design elements, namely wood, stone, metal, water and light. Also glimpse pictures hanging in the Welcome Center from the historic 2019 meeting that led to the signing of the Human Fraternity document.
A view shows the exterior of the Abrahamic Family House, an interfaith complex with a synagogue at left, a mosque at center and a church at right, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 21, 2023 . REUTERS/Amr Alfiky
Image source: Reuters