UAE is a Muslim country, but it is home to communities from all over the world, people of different religious faiths and beliefs. It’s estimated that around 85 per cent of the UAE’s population is immigrants – with varied nationalities and religions represented in the cities and desert across the nation. Fortunately, the country is incredibly permissive and has respect for other religions and inhabitants can freely pray at a Hindu temple, a Christian Church or a Sikh Gurudwara.
1. ST. MARY’S CATHOLIC CHURCH
Located in the heart of Dubai, it continues to embrace the diverse generations of Catholics since 1967. This church offers services in several languages like English, Arabic, Tagalog, Malayalam, French, Portuguese and Polish. Accessible 365 days of the year, St. Mary’s also comprised of a popular English-medium school next door that pleasingly welcomes children of all faiths. It is predicted that around 7,000 people come every Friday for mass.
2. SHIVA AND KRISHNA MANDIR
One of the ancient Hindu places of worship in the country was built back in 1985, the Shiva and Krishna Mandir is actually two different temples, located off the scurry streets in Al Fahidi, just by the Creek. An air-conditioned gurudwara is located on the level above the temple. It’s a spiritual surrounding for contemplation amidst the sounds of gurbani. The Shrinathji temple nearby is also a must for darshan. The temple hosts worshipers of different faiths including to large Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities in UAE and always smells beautifully of sandalwood. The two day Maha Shivratri festival draws around 150,000people to this temple.
3. GURUDWARA GURU NANAK DARBAR SIKH TEMPLE
The first ‘official’ Sikh temple in the entire Gulf, this Gurudwara has been established on land donated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. On April 13 2017, the Sikh temple hosted 101 nationalities for breakfast, conquering the Guinness World Record title for ‘Most Nationalities Having A Continental Breakfast’. It draws in people from all across the globe, and people are astonished to see an ultra-modernly designed Sikh temple located in an Islamic country. Around 1,500 people stopover the temple every day, while Fridays have been observed to go beyond 12,000 visitors. It has become an acclaimed venue for destination weddings, and 148 marriages have taken place so far.
4. HOLY TRINITY CHURCH
This Church practices and preaches sound Christian doctrine and are pretty prominent within the local community. If you’re looking for a good Anglican church that will feed you with a healthy and hearty meal of spiritual food, this is your church to visit. The Church building is both appealing and enduring and offers stimulation, relaxation and shelter to the many people who visit it and worship within it.
5. SRI LANKARAMAYA
The city’s first Buddhist temple is a welcome hiatus for the city’s Buddhists to practice their faith. With services on Friday, the temple also hosts monks from Sri Lanka who celebrates and honours some of the most crucial events to Buddhists, such as the birth of Buddha. The temple also enlightens children on the basic fundamentals of the religion, making it a holistic destination for all practitioners of the faith.
6. ST. PHILIP THE APOSTLE ORTHODOX CHURCH
St. Philip the Apostle Russian Orthodox Church is a Russian Orthodox Church located in Sharjah, a 20-minute drive from Dubai, is the biggest church in the country. The plot of land on which this church is built was gifted to Sharjah’s Russian Orthodox community by H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the ruler of Sharjah. With its dazzling ornate blue domes, prosperous symbolism and images inside the church, it’s well worth visiting no matter what your faith is. It can host up to 20,000 worshippers at any given time.
7. DERASAR – JAIN TEMPLE
Dubai’s Jain community catered to at the Derasar in Bur Dubai. A ‘ghar’ temple (that is, based in a home), it was initiated in Bur Dubai to serve the large majority of the city’s Jains who reside near it. This temple ascribes to the Shewtambar sect of Jainism and is the only such one in the area.
8. ST. THOMAS INDIAN ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL, DUBAI
This attractive cathedral highlights another well-known Christian community resident in the UAE – the mostly south Indian expats who have come to the country bringing their rich Christian traditions with them. The cathedral itself doesn’t have pews and instead its worshipers sit on the softy carpeted ground, and along with its Orthodox services of solemn processions and incense, you’ll come away with a whole new acknowledgement for the charm of churches. Again, English is not the main language spoken here to take affliction to show respect.
9. EMIRATES BAPTIST CHURCH, DUBAI
One of the more international churches in the country, this Baptist Church offers its services in English and boats some of the most distinct arrays of worshippers. With Friday and Sunday services, Bible studies, and youth camps, this church offers something for even those who are just solely inquisitive. True to its tradition, this church will also offer their praise to God through singing, something many who are not part of this denomination have travelled to just to witness.