Symbol of tolerance: UAE’s Abrahamic Family House marks first anniversary



The Abrahamic Family House is a place for education, conversation, and religious observance. In February 2023, it celebrated its first anniversary since opening on Saadiyat Cultural District in Abu Dhabi.

The complex includes three places of worship – the Ahmed El-Tayeb Mosque, St Francis Church, and Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue – along with shared areas for gatherings and discussions.

Reflecting the UAE’s commitment to unity among people and cultures, the Abrahamic Family House showcases the nation’s diversity.

The project was inspired by the principles in the Document on Human Fraternity, signed by His Holiness Pope Francis and His Eminence Grand Imam Dr Ahmed El-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

After a year of community-building efforts, the Abrahamic Family House hosted a month-long series of diverse events to commemorate its anniversary and plans to expand its activities and initiatives in the future.

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, President of the Abrahamic Family House, said, “Since its inauguration one year ago, the Abrahamic Family House has provided a unique platform for understanding and dialogue, serving multiple faith communities, and welcoming visitors. The three remarkable Houses of Worship at the Abrahamic Family House have developed into active faith centres for Abu Dhabi’s Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities.

“The most remarkable aspect is how the Abrahamic Family House has developed into a space for meaningful encounters, where everyone can engage in dialogue, mutual learning and understanding. Through our programming, partnerships, and initiatives, we seek to shed new light on shared human values and create pathways to peaceful coexistence.”

Acting Executive Director of Abrahamic Family House Centre, Abdulla Al Shehhi, said, “Since its opening, the Abrahamic Family House has welcomed over 250,000 worshippers, visitors, delegations and students, of all backgrounds and from around the world, to experience its journey of understanding, in an environment of thriving faith communities.

The three Houses of Worship have organised a year-round calendar of religious services and events, including celebrations of the holy month of Ramadan, Easter, and Passover in 2023, as well as ongoing community events that offer education, discussion and spiritual reflection to their respective faith communities.”

In addition to a calendar of religious services and events, some highlights included Tahfeeth Circles to learn the art of reciting the Quran at the Mosque; Christmas ornament and card making workshops at the Church; and Hanukkah celebrations at the Synagogue.

The Abrahamic Family House organised a series of 250 educational programmes and cross-House workshops that welcomed 15,000 participants. These included discussion sessions where speakers and attendees were invited to engage with topics such as the role of faith in climate change, art, and achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, as well as creative workshops exploring activities like crafts, aroma mixing, and caring for plants and the environment.

To mark its first anniversary, a special programme of activities reflecting the Abrahamic Family House’s central values took place throughout February.

Fraternal Visuals, a special exhibition exploring themes of conversation between faiths through Arabic calligraphy, was displayed in the Forum for all visitors to explore. At the St Francis Church, the world-famous children’s choir ‘The Little Singers of Paris’ gave a series of performances exploring the themes of Truth, Love, Unity, and Holiness through choral music.

A tile-making workshop invited participants to create a mosaic tile that reflects an aspect of their personality, culture or faith, for a collaborative mosaic in the Abrahamic Family House Garden: a physical embodiment of diversity, exchange, and cross-cultural understanding.

This year the Abrahamic Family House plans to expand its activities and programming, growing its communities even further. Priorities include developing its capabilities in research, scholarship and publications through partnerships with higher education institutions.

The Abrahamic Family House will continue to host an active calendar of educational programmes, focused on the core themes of the role of faith in sustainability, technology, and the arts, and popular community events such as the book club, and arts and crafts workshops. Upcoming courses offer a chance to learn mindful communication skills; Sign Language and Braille; and theatrical play, puppetry and storytelling for children. – Wam


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