Abu Dhabi’s stunning new multifaith complex is a mosque, synagogue and church
Author Adam Pramadi, CNNAbu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates inaugurated the “Abraham Family House” on Wednesday, an interfaith complex that houses a mosque, a church and the Gulf Arab nation’s first purpose-built synagogue ever.
Designed by renowned Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, the project incorporates architectural styles from mosques, churches and synagogues from around the world.
A member of the media tours the interior of the Imam al-Tayeb Mosque during a tour of the Abraham family home in Abu Dhabi on February 21. Credit: Ryan Lim/AFP/Getty Images
“What you’re going to see in all the projects is that it’s always about the filtering of light, the splitting of light,” Adjaye told CNN’s Becky Anderson.
“In the mosque … the light surrounds you until you enter the silence and stoicism facing Mecca,” he said.
In the church, “you hear the splashing of the water,” Adjaye said. “For me, water is so important to Christianity. The church is the ark of the world.”
A photo of the interior of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi during a media tour at the Abraham family house in Abu Dhabi on February 21. Credit: Ryan Lim/AFP/Getty Images
The synagogue is the first purpose-built Jewish place of worship in the UAE and, like most synagogues in the world, faces Jerusalem. It was inspired by the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, celebrated by building temporary shelters. A circular hole in the ceiling of the space lets direct light into the interior. “The midday light kissed the rabbi in the center very directly,” Adjaye said.
Members of the media visit the Moses ben Maimun Synagogue at the Abraham Family House in Abu Dhabi on February 21. Credit: Ryan Lim/AFP/Getty Images
The Jewish community in the UAE has previously used makeshift synagogues.
While completely unique, each individual building is a 30-meter (98-foot) by 30-meter cube. The unified design aims to provide a common ground from which tolerance and understanding can be fostered, Adjaye said.