In the area of religion, the UAE’s constitution guarantees freedom of worship to all people. The country is home to approximately 45 Christian churches, two Hindu temples, a Sikh temple and a Buddhist monastery that welcome multi-national congregations. A growing Jewish community gathers and worships in the UAE. In 2019, the Jewish Community of the Emirates appointed its first Chief Rabbi. And in April 2020, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced plans to build a temple in the UAE, its first in the Middle East.
During his visit to the UAE in February 2019 – the first ever visit by a sitting Pontiff to the Arabian Peninsula – Pope Francis met UAE leaders, spoke with the Muslim Council of Elders at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and celebrated a public mass in front of 180,000 people at Zayed Sports City. The Pope also joined with Dr. Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, to sign the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, which calls for interfaith harmony and understanding.
Located on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, the newly-opened Abrahamic Family House builds on the legacy of the Document on Human Fraternity and acts as a symbol of the UAE’s values of peaceful coexistence as an interfaith complex. Three houses of worship – Imam Al-Tayeb Mosque, His Holiness Francis Church, and Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue – and a Forum comprise the Abrahamic Family House. The mosque is oriented towards Mecca, the church towards the East and the synagogue towards Jerusalem.
The Abrahamic Family House is a place of learning, dialogue and worship, focused on creating mutual understanding among people of diverse faiths. The complex invites visitors to exchange knowledge and practice faith through opportunities to participate in and learn about religious services, listen to holy scripture, and experience sacred rituals.