The United Arab Emirates is building a church, mosque and synagogue, in one location in Abu Dhabi, to underscore the need for all religions to live in harmony.
The unique and historic project dubbed the “Abrahamic Family House”, which is currently in the first steps of implementation, will take three years to be completed and opened in 2022.
Gulf News said the Abrahamic Family House is among the first projects of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, which was reviewed at its second meeting held at the New York Public Library in which the Committee shared with stakeholders their mission to progress a culture of mutual respect and dialogue across all backgrounds, beliefs and nationalities.
Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and several top Emirati officials, and representatives of several institutions and partners were present.
The design of the Abrahamic Family House, by the award-winning and globally-renowned architect, Sir David Frank Adjaye a British-Ghanaian, was unveiled at the New York event.
The meeting coincides with the beginning of the 74th United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.
The new body is empowered to provide guidance and counsel on realising the goals of the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” signed by His Holiness, Pope Francis of the Catholic Church, and His Eminence Dr. Ahmad Al Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif, in Abu Dhabi, during the Papal visit in February this year.
Following the Higher Committee’s inaugural meeting at the Vatican earlier this month, the New York gathering was the second time the Higher Committee has met in two weeks.
One of the first projects the Higher Committee will help guide is the Abrahamic Family House, to be located on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. A reflection of the Document on Human Fraternity, a church, mosque and synagogue will share a collective space for the first time, serving as a community for inter-religious dialogue and exchange, and nurturing the values of peaceful co-existence and acceptance among different beliefs, nationalities and cultures.
Reflecting on this historic initiative, His Eminence Elect Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Higher Committee member, said, “This endeavour is a profoundly moving moment for humanity. Although sadly, evil, hatred and division often make news, there is a hidden sea of goodness that is growing and leads us to hope in dialogue, reciprocal knowledge and the possibility of building, together with the followers of other religions and all men and women of goodwill, a world of fraternity and peace. I would like to thank the UAE for the concrete commitment shown on behalf of human fraternity.”
Commenting on the occasion, Judge Mohammad Mahmoud Abdul Salam, Higher Committee member and Former Advisor to the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif, remarked, “The formation of the Committee has come at an important time and has required all peace lovers to unite and join the efforts to spread coexistence, brotherhood, and tolerance throughout the world. I am moved by this energy and determination to spread the principles of the Document on Human Fraternity to achieve security, coexistence, and peace for everyone. I was amazed by the mutual humanity concerns that both His Holiness Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and His Eminence Dr. Ahmad Al Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif, shared when they met last February; they were determined to achieve happiness for all humanity no matter the religion or nationality.”
Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, Senior Rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation and a Higher Committee member, said, “This is an important opportunity for all who believe in the power of faith and humanity. It will help build bridges between religious leaders and communities as well as foster peace and harmony in an era that is too often defined by difference. I am honoured to be part of such an esteemed group working to champion love over hate, justice over injustice, and faith over fear.”
Sir David Adjaye, Founder and Principal of Adjaye Associates, stated, “I am humbled and honoured that our design has been selected. I believe architecture should work to enshrine the kind of world we want to live in, a world of tolerance, openness, and constant advancement.
“We hope we have set out a plan for a beautiful and thought-provoking space that celebrates the three faiths. The space will be open to the world, and our hope is that through these buildings people of all faiths and from across society can learn and engage in a mission of peaceful coexistence for generations to come.”