UAE gets its 1st multi-faith cemetery, crematorium

The 40,000 square metre cemetery will serve people of all non-Muslim faiths residing anywhere in the country.

Dubai: In a major relief to people of
different faiths, including Hindus and Christians, who used to
struggle to bury or cremate their dead, the UAE has made
operational its first multi-faith crematorium and graveyard
spread over 40,000 square metre to serve all non-Muslims.

The facility which was built five years ago, but was
lying unused for lack of an operator, has finally found a
manager in a Briton who was working in the Abu Dhabi morgue.

The 40,000 square metre cemetery in UAE`s second largest
city al Ain will serve people of all non-Muslim faiths
residing anywhere in the country, barring any visa
restrictions, the management of the facility said.

The facility included a church, a waiting room, and
municipality services chambers and is equipped to allow the
people perform their religious rites in accordance with best
environmental practises.

The facility comes as a major relief especially to
expatriates, who used to struggle due to lack of a place to
bury or cremate their loved ones.

For the past five years, the only operational crematorium
was at the Dubai Hindu temple, but it was open only to
residents in that emirate, said The National newspaper.

There was no licensed crematorium in Abu Dhabi, leaving
Hindu families to cremate their dead on an unlicensed bonfire
near a rubbish tip in Al Ain, it said.

The ceremony to mark the opening of the crematorium was
attended by representatives of different faiths and also saw
Anglican Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf Right Reverend Michael
Lewis bless the chapel at the crematorium, which will be
dedicated to St Thomas on behalf of the Anglican community.

"Every effort had been made to create an unshakable air
of understanding and dignity among all non-Muslims who would
be using this burial ground which is located some 15 km away,
north of the city," manager of the crematorium Don Fox said.

Due to the difference in cultures and local procedures,
the bereavement process for non-Muslims living in the UAE is
very difficult, he added.

"(The Municipality) was dealing with the unknown... They
had the building but didn`t know what to do with it," Fox was
quoted as saying.

"No one thought it could be a multi faith building, it
to be either Christian or Hindu exclusively. That is why it
has taken so long," he said.

Fox who has more than 20 years` experience of working
with Abu Dhabi mortuary, said there was a vast amount of
paperwork as well as a general lack of knowledge on how to
handle this complicated process.

Gopi Pandiath, a spokesman for the Indian Social Centre
in Al Ain, said "it is a relief for members of the Indian
community, who wish to be cremated here in the UAE".

"This has always been a complicated process but we now
have access to this new quality service close to home," he
told the Gulf news.