Al Ain: By the end of this year, the St. Dionysius Orthodox Church will have its own place of worship in its own land in Al Ain thanks to the generosity of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Gulf News has learnt.
"Our Church has been granted permission to erect our place of worship in a plot arranged for in the Mezyad district of Al Ain, by the kindness of the UAE President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. This approval has been channelled through the Religious Affairs Ministry and the the Al Ain Municipal Authority with full support," said Abraham Matthew, media coordinator of the St. Dionysius Orthodox Church.
The cornerstone for the upcoming church will be laid on April 20 to mark the beginning of the construction of the church that is targeted to be completed by December 15 this year. The church inauguration will be held by the end of that month.
At present, around 200 members of the St. Dionysius Orthodox Church attend their worship services every Friday at the St. Mary's Catholic Church in Al Ain. With the new land, the church will soon have its own Parish Hall, which can accommodate up to 1,500 people, a VIP suite for visiting bishops and church leaders, and a parsonage.
Matthew said that their church officials began requesting for their own land some 30 years back. They had resubmitted their request around two years ago and received the positive response recently.
"Definitely it is through the kindness of the President of the UAE that we now have this land where we can build our own church. We are grateful that the leaders consider all religious communities and do not discriminate against other religions other than Islam," Matthew said.
St. Dionysius Orthodox Church, whose Mother Church is in India, has churches in Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, and Sharjah.