Middle East`s first gurudwara opens in Dubai

There are an estimated 50,000 Sikhs in the UAE, hailing from both India and Pakistan.

Dubai: The UAE`s first official gurudwara, Guru Nanak Darbar, has opened in Jebel Ali area here, ending years of demand from the Sikh community for a place of worship.

The gurudwara is believed to be the first of its kind in the entire region.

Spread over an area of 25,000 square feet near the Jebel Ali Hospital, the gurudwara has a dedicated floor for community feasts (langar) and a huge hall for devotional songs (kirtan). Arrangements can be made for langar for about 5,000 people at a time, those associated with the project said.

There are an estimated 50,000 Sikhs in the UAE, hailing from both India and Pakistan.

The man behind the project, local businessman Surinder Singh Kandhari, thanked the local leadership for their support to the project.

"We are thankful to His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, (Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai), with whose permission this has materialised. He also gave away free land for the gurudwara," he said.

"This was a long-standing demand of the community and I am pleased I have done something for the community," said Kandhari.

Dubai-based architect firm Holford Associates designed the gurudwara.

"We also had the support of Richard Adams from UK who was involved with the Shri Guru Singh Sabha Gurudwara on Havelock Road in Southall, London," Kandhari said.

There is a 54-metre water body, inspired by the sarovar at the Golden Temple and a cascade. The main prayer hall, on the top player with Palki Sahib, has a 7.2 metre high ceiling and 18-metre diameter dome roof. The function hall can accommodate up to 900 people. The total cost of the project is estimated to be approximately USD 20 million.