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Abu Dhabi’s stunning new multifaith complex is a mosque, synagogue and church

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Adam Pramadi, CNN

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-ever purpose-built synagogue.

Designed by renowned Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, the project incorporates architectural styles from mosques, churches and synagogues from around the world.

structure draws inspiration From three Abrahamic beliefs, intended to outline their similarities.

this imam tayib mosque, named after it Al-Azhar Grand Imam, The primary authority in Sunni Islam is oriented toward Mecca. Its windows are made of delicate lattices, called mashrabiya, designed to allow air circulation while regulating light and maintaining privacy.

“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.

Church of St. Francis dedicated to monks in the 13th century St Francis of Assisi, the current Catholic Pope is named after him. It faces the rising sun in the east. The ceiling is made of wood, meant to evoke the biblical and Quranic stories of Noah’s Ark.

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.”

The Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue commemorates the 12th century Jewish philosopher known as Rabbi Maimonides. The scholar was also a leading physician in the Mediterranean Jewish world, whose patients included SaladinMuslim ruler of Egypt and Syria.

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.

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.

CNN
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