Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi’s Abrahamic Family House, an interfaith complex on Al Saadiyat Island, today opened to visitors.
The complex, which houses a mosque, a church, and a synagogue, has offered religious services since its inauguration on February 16, and now offers guided tours highlighting the need for interfaith harmony. It also allows non-worshippers to enjoy the grounds, including a shared garden housing 200 local plants, and soak in its spirit of tolerance.
Named after Abraham, the prophet revered in Islam, Christianity and Judaism, the Abrahamic Family House is located in a stunning precinct that is set to become the capital’s cultural centre. 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.
The complex has been hailed as a sign of the UAE’s focus on diversity and peace, and has been designed by British-Ghanaian architect Sir David Adjaye. The facility now houses His Eminence Ahmed El-Tayeb Mosque, His Holiness Francis Church, and Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue, the first purpose-built synagogue in Abu Dhabi. It is also home to the Document of Human Fraternity, signed by His Holiness Pope Francis and His Eminence Grand Imam Dr Ahmed El-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi in 2019.
The facility was inaugurated in a glittering ceremony on February 16 by Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, and Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence. The next day, the Abrahamic Family House hosted its first conference on peaceful coexistence.
The inaugural religious services at each of the three houses of worship were conducted between February 17 and 19, and worshippers have been able to enter them ever since.
What to know before you visit
Timings: His Eminence Ahmed El-Tayeb Mosque is open during the timings of each of the five prayers as announced by Awqaf, whereas His Holiness Francis Church and Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue are open between 7am and 9pm.
Bookings: Visitors must book guided tours ahead of visiting the facility. Worshippers can enter without a booking.
Guided tours: Tours are available between 10am and 5pm from Tuesday to Saturday. Each tour can be booked in either English or Arabic via the facility’s dedicated website. Each tour takes about an hour.
Cost: There are no entry fees, and all visitors can enter any of the three houses of worship. Worshippers can also join a service of another faith group as guests.
Dress code: Visitors must wear clothing that covers their body between the neck, the elbows, and the ankles. Outfits that are body-hugging or tight are discouraged, and articles with offensive messaging or overt political expressions and imagery are disallowed. Women must also cover their head when entering the mosque and the synagogue, and headscarves are available to borrow at the Welcome Centre.
What not to miss: Make sure to notice the shared similarities between the three houses of worship, including the use of five different design elements, namely wood, stone, metal, water, and light. Also catch a glimpse of images from the 2019 historic meeting that led to the signing of the Document of Human Fraternity, which are hung in the Welcome Centre.