A multi-cultural Iftar at the Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh temple in Dubai is the latest witness to the fact that Dubai is fully committed to embracing people of all faiths.
People belonging to several different faiths got together at the Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh temple in Dubai on Monday evening for an inter-faith Iftar gathering. Senior members of the Sikh, Christian, Baha'i and Hindu communities stood side-by-side of their Muslim brothers and sisters to end their fast in a truly ceremonial manner.
Organised by members of the Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh temple, the event was also graced by senior ministry officials and diplomats from various countries. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Environment and Climate Change; Dr Omar Al Muthanna, CEO, Licensing and Monitoring Sector, Community Development Authority (CDA); and Mirza Al Sayegh, director of office of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance were among the government officials present at the gurudwara.
Paul Malik, Consul General of United States to Dubai; Vipul, Consul General of India to the UAE; Patrizio Fondi, head of mission, delegation of the European Union to the UAE; and several other heads of diplomatic missions broke fast during the gathering. Religious leaders of various faiths were also present at the Iftar.
Speaking about the Iftar, Dr Zeyoudi said: "I am very thankful to the gurudwara for arranging this wonderful and diverse Iftar. It is an honour to have such vibrant communities here in Dubai, especially an establishment that remembers the needs and requirements of all people. With events like this, we are truly celebrating the spirit of Ramadan, which is the month of working together as human beings and coming together as communities.
The gurudwara hosts over 2,000 worshippers every day and provides langar (free meals) to 1,500 people of all religious backgrounds. During the weekends over 10,000 meals are distributed, and 50,000 on special occasions. Iftar is an annual event, and the gurudwara has been hosting it for the six years since its inception.
Al Sayegh said: "This is what UAE stands for... As a nation, we are led by the wisdom of Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid. Their vision has given us the ability to worship all religions. Over 200 nationalities are living in peace and celebrating their festivals here in Dubai. This aspect of our culture is what makes us truly inclusive."
Vipul said: "This event here is in the true spirit of what Sheikh Zayed stood for and is also a reflection of Indian teachings."
Speaking about the iftar, founder and chairman of the Gurudwara Surender Singh Kandhari, said: "This year has been a huge event. Over 12 nationalities attended the event, and like the teachings of Guru Nanak, what we are trying to impart is for people to be good human beings."
Other special guests were Abdul Hadi of Al Manar Islamic Centre who spoke to those gathered about the religious and cultural significance of Ramadan. Father Mina Hanna of Coptic Church in Dubai was also present.
Rev Tim Heaney, parish priest at Christ Church Jebel Ali, said: "The amazing thing about the UAE is the inter-cultural harmony. And like the other big religious festivals, Ramadan is a great time to come together and share religious beliefs. People from all faiths are here and it is very beautiful that people are able to come together in this manner."
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