Insights

House of the Abrahamic Family inaugurated in Abu Dhabi

The House of the Abrahamic Family, a symbol of interreligious dialogue and rapprochement between peoples, has been inaugurated in Abu Dhabi. By Anna Cossiga

16 February 2022 saw the inauguration, in Abu Dhabi, of the House of the Abrahamic Family, the construction of which was announced after Pope Francis' 2019 visit to the Emirates. The House consist of an interfaith complex of buildings, described as “the physical manifestation of the Document on Human Fraternity”. Signed by the Pontiff and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar University, Ahmed Al Tayeb[1] in the presence of 400 religious leaders, the document aims to promote coexistence between peoples and combat extremism.

The complex, which will be a centre for dialogue, mutual knowledge and worship, comprises a mosque, a church and a synagogue, dedicated respectively to Imam Al Tayeb, St Francis of Assisi and Moses Maimonides, a great figure of medieval Judaism. The three buildings are of equal size and height and each represents the architectural codes of the three cultures that see Abraham as their father.

The House was officially inaugurated by Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, and Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence[2].

“The House of the Abrahamic Family is the symbol of the Emirati values of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence represented by our founder, Sheikh Zayed,” declared its President Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak [3]. “The world, including states, is nothing but a group of families that live close to each other,” he added[4]. The president of the Emirates, Mohammed bin Zayed, also recalled his country’s long history of people belonging to different communities working together to create new possibilities[5].

People attending the ceremony included Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Rabbi David Rosen, Director for Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee, based in Jerusalem. The two representatives of the Catholic Church and Judaism also expressed their satisfaction with the inauguration of the complex, which took almost three years to complete[6]. Cardinal Guixot commented that the House represents “a return to what is essential: love for one’s neighbour”[7].

Tolerance, coexistence between different cultures and the fight against extremism are among the main cornerstones of the UAE’s domestic and foreign policy. Strengthened by its excellent economic relations with numerous countries and focused on a balanced foreign policy between various international actors, the UAE sees itself as “a global capital where civilisations of East and West converge to increase peace and rapprochement between peoples” [8]. The tenth of the “Principles of the 50”, announced for the 50th anniversary of the country’s birth, states that the basis of Emirati foreign policy is to “seek peace, harmony, negotiation and cooperation with regional partners and friends worldwide, to achieve peace in the region and around the globe”[9]. The signing of the 2020 Abraham Accords for the normalisation of relations with Israel is one of the most important examples of this policy. Moreover, Minister bin Mubarak Al Nahyan not only conceived and organised the meeting with Pope Francis, but was also one of the main actors in those Accords. His ministry was created in 2017 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Emirati Vice-President and Ruler of Dubai, after the issuing of Federal Law No. 2 of 2015 on Combating Hate and Discrimination[10].

The Abrahamic Family House, which will be open to the public from 1 March 2023, is a tangible sign of the UAE’s success in its commitment to promoting political as well as religious dialogue. In a region often affected by conflict, not only between states but also often between faiths and cultures, the complex is a sign of hope for a progressive détente in the area.


[1] https://www.thenationalnews.com/uae/2023/02/17/uaes-abrahamic-family-house-to-open-on-march-1/

[2] https://www.mediaoffice.abudhabi/en/tourism/saif-bin-zayed-and-nahyan-bin-mubarak-inaugurate-abudhabi-abrahamic-family-house/

[3] Ivi.

[4] http://tolerance.gov.ae/en/default.aspx

[5] https://www.thenationalnews.com/uae/2023/02/17/uaes-abrahamic-family-house-to-open-on-march-1/

[6] https://themedialine.org/headlines/uae-inaugurates-multi-faith-abrahamic-family-house-in-abu-dhabi/

[7] Ivi.

[8] http://www.tolerance.gov.ae/en/tolerance.aspx

[9] https://www.khaleejtimes.com/news/government/full-text-uaes-principles-of-the-50-to-guide-country-in-new-era

[10] https://uaecabinet.ae/en/details/news/dubai-ruler-orders-establishment-of-office-for-minister-of-tolerance

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