Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum
Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum has been hailed as man of great generosity and tolerance by church and gurudwara leaders. Image Credit: WAM/Gulf News archives

Dubai: Religious leaders from Jebel Ali churches and the Gurudwara have paid sincere and heart-warming tributes to Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and Industry, who passed away in Dubai on Wednesday.

In a message sent to Gulf News, Fr. Jozef Timmers, OFM Cap, priest administrator at St Francis Catholic Church Jebel Ali, said: “On behalf of all the members of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, I express my sorrow over the death of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.”

Making a special mention of the generosity of Sheikh Hamdan, he said, “We are deeply grateful for all his (Sheikh Hamdan) valuable work on behalf of the Dubai community, in particular for the donation of the land for the church complex in Jebel Ali, where our church was built and then inaugurated in 2000 (St. Francis Church was consecrated on November 15, 2001). May our all merciful God give him eternal rest and peace.”

Rev. Fr. Lennie J A Connully OFM Cap, parish priest at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Dubai, added: “Sheikh Hamdan was such a generous, loving and tolerant person that all Christian churches in Dubai will remember with gratitude in their hearts. It is a great loss to the emirate as well as to the Maktoum family and to the UAE. May the dear departed rest in Allah’s Peace!”

Bishop Mesrob Sarkissian also said: “Please accept our heartfelt condolences on behalf of the Armenian Church. May the mercy of God descend on the soul of the deceased and grant long and healthy years to the ruler of Dubai and his family.”

Man of religious tolerance

The Dubai Evangelical Church Centre (DECC) in Jebel Ali was built on a land donated by Sheikh Hamdan and church leaders have honoured him for his “significant contribution to religious tolerance in the region.”

Pastor Wael Haddad and Dr. Hisham Yousse from the Evangelical Church in Dubai said: “It is with great sadness we received the news that Sheikh Hamdan has passed away. We will always remember and appreciate all his support and decisions to support churches and places of worship in Dubai. The Evangelical Church in Dubai extends sincere condolences to our beloved country of UAE, the respected rulers of the country and their family. We are praying for condolences.”

The Greek Orthodox Church in Dubai also received “with great sadness and a heavy heart the news of the death of a gracious and generous man. May God have mercy on him and comfort his loved ones and his family,” Bishop Gregorios Khouri prayed.

James Burgess, senior pastor at Fellowship Church Dubai, added: “(The Deputy Ruler of Dubai) was a man of kindness, wisdom, generosity and true compassion. He always received us warmly and cared about our concerns. We at Fellowship Church will miss him greatly.”

Legacy of hard work and generosity

Father Mina Hanna added: “The Coptic Church in the UAE mourns the death of Sheikh Hamdan. He has left a great legacy in the UAE – especially in Dubai – a legacy of hard work and generosity. When we pray in our churches, we are reminded of the land graciously donated by his highness. May the Lord grant him a place in the highest heavens and console all those he has left behind with patience and peace.”

Gurudwara tributes

The Sikh Gurudwara in Jebel Ali also mourned the passing away of Sheikh Hamdan.

Surender Singh Kandhari, chairman of Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara in Jebel Ali and Al Dobowi Group, said: “We are deeply saddened by the untimely demise of Sheikh Hamdan. He was like a benevolent father for all businesses and people living in Dubai. His vision, foresight and active participation helped shape the future of business community in Dubai. May God bless his soul.”