Construction work begins on first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi
VIDEO: RSP Architects, Ramboll among builders of 5.5ha temple in UAE capital, for which foundation stone was recently laid
Construction work has commenced on the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi following a foundation stone-laying ceremony, also referred to as the shilanyas ritual, attended by thousands of devotees on 20 April in the UAE capital.
The temple is being built in the Bu Marikha area on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai Highway. It will include an art gallery, halls, library, gym and other facilities, according to a report by UAE state news agency, Wam.
The 5.5ha temple will include architecture and carvings mirroring prehistoric stories from Indian scriptures to signify peace and spirituality.
The temple will be constructed by Mandir Limited – the legal entity registered with the Abu Dhabi Government for the temple project – along with Baps Swaminarayan Sanstha, a global organisation known for managing Hindu temples.
RSP Architects is the lead consultant and designer of the temple and Ramboll will provide façade for the building.
According to a statement on Ramboll’s website, Baps Swaminarayan Sanstha’s traditional architects, referred to as sompuras, and engineers will design the stone temple.
The exterior of the temple will be made of pink sandstone from Rajasthan, which is also known as the material behind the Indian state’s historical Hawa Mahal landmark, and the interiors will be clad with white marble, to be handcrafted by Indian artisans.
A tantalising glimpse into the inclusive vision and expansive scale of the @BAPSAbuDhabi temple that will come up in Abu Dhabi.— IndAmbUAE (@navdeepsuri) April 20, 2019
I read the message of PM @narendramodi to mark the Shilanayas of the temple. #BAPSAbudhabi @IndianDiplomacy pic.twitter.com/e0170u1T4U
Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the UAE's Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and Dr Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills attended the ceremony.
Also in attendance were Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of Baps Swaminarayan Sanstha – the religious and social organisation building the temple – and Navdeep Suri, Ambassador of the Republic of India to the UAE.
Commenting on the project, Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, chairman of Department of Community Development – Abu Dhabi, said: "The UAE boasts a privileged status regionally and internationally thanks to the values of religious diversity, pluralism, and cultural harmony, which have encouraged the peoples of more than 200 nationalities to live in the country in peaceful co-existence.
"Laying the foundation stone of the temple is reflective of the landscape of tolerance and pluralism in the UAE. The Founding Father, late Sheikh Zayed, always believed that co-existence between peoples of various religious beliefs and nationalities is the only way to establish international peace."
During the ceremony, Indian Ambassador to UAE Navdeep Suri read out a statement by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“When complete, this temple will symbolise the universal human values and spiritual ethos that has been a shared heritage of both India and the UAE,” Suri said on behalf of the Indian PM.