Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi will open the Abrahamic Family House, a new centre for learning, dialogue and the practice of faith on Saadiyat Island, to visitors next the beginning of March.
Located in the Saadiyat Cultural District in Abu Dhabi, the centre encompasses three separate houses of worship – a mosque, a church and a synagogue, as well as shared spaces for gathering and dialogue.
President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced the inauguration on Thursday through his official Twitter handle.
“The UAE has a proud history of people from diverse com unities working together to create new possibilities. As the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi is inaugurated, we remain committed to harnessing the power of mutual respect, understanding and diversity to achieve shared progress,” he said.
Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, and Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, inaugurated the centre in the presence of 300 guests.
Tolerance and diversity
Rooted in the UAE’s values of bringing people and cultures together, the Abrahamic Family House embodies the diversity of Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE, home to vibrant multicultural communities of various faiths. The project was inspired by the principles in the Document on Human Fraternity, signed by Pope Francis and Grand Imam Dr Ahmed El-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi in 2019.
“The Abrahamic Family House is symbolic of the UAE’s longstanding values of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence – values embodied by our Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed. The centre will be a platform for learning and dialogue, a model of coexistence set against the backdrop of the multiculturalism and diversity of our nation, where more than 200 nationalities live peacefully side-by-side. We hope that the Abrahamic Family House will inspire youth everywhere, as we highlight our common humanity and work towards the creation of a more peaceful world for generations to come,” said Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, president of the Abrahamic Family House.
At the Abrahamic Family House visitors are invited to participate in religious services, guided tours, celebrations, and opportunities to explore faith. Each of the dedicated houses of worship, the Eminence Ahmed El-Tayeb Mosque, His Holiness Francis Church, and Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue, has space for observers, and daily guided tours will show visitors features of the design pertinent to the practices and traditions of each faith.
Houses of worship open
While the centre officially opens in March, people can already undertake religious practices at the three houses of worship. These have been opened to observers from February 16.
“The Abrahamic Family House is a true reflection of the provisions of the Document on Human Fraternity, which calls for ensuring peaceful coexistence. It is a testament to the vision of the United Arab Emirates and its leaders towards promoting interfaith dialogue and peace among all. The Abrahamic Family House is a model of coexistence, reconciliation, and mutual respect for the sake of mankind,” said Professor Mohammed Al Mahrasawi, co-chair of Higher Committee for Human Fraternity and former president of Al-Azhar University.
“The Abrahamic Family House is a concrete example for people of different religions, cultures, traditions, and beliefs to return to the essential: love of neighbour. This will be a place which promotes dialogue and mutual respect, and acts in the service of human fraternity as we walk the paths of peace together,” added Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, president of The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue of The Holy See.
“On this historic day, we have gathered to celebrate this remarkable monument to loving kindness - the Abrahamic Family House. From today onwards, let us use this extraordinary sacred site to promote harmony and peace. In a world in which differences can separate us, let us say here that our shared values shall exist for the sake of our universal aspirations,” said Sir Ephraim Mirvis, chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.
The complex’s central forum functions as a visitor experience centre, where an immersive exhibition will introduce visitors to the Abrahamic Family House and invite reflection on the three faiths. The space will host discussions, forums, and conferences that promote understanding, dialogue and peaceful coexistence. The shared garden is another space for gathering, learning and conversation for members of diverse faith communities and visitors of all beliefs.
The three houses of worship are of equal stature and share external dimensions, and have been designed by Sir David Adjaye, of Adjaye Associates, to respect the architectural codes and individualism of each faith. Each takes the form of a cube that is thirty metres deep, thirty metres wide, and thirty metres tall.
The mosque, church and synagogue will provide faith communities with an environment of profound beauty and tranquillity in which to participate in religious services, listen to recitals of holy scripture and prayers, and experience sacred rituals.
The Abrahamic Family House will also offer a dynamic series of educational and faith-based programmes and events, as well as initiatives for young people, that promote the exchange of knowledge and interfaith collaboration.