Christmas celebrated in all languages across UAE

Tens of thousands of residents across the UAE will be observing Christmas on December 25. With multiple nationalities in attendance at churches throughout the country, all will be catered to as multilingual vicars and priests will perform services from morning to night.

At St Joseph's Cathedral in Abu Dhabi, Fr Gandolf Wild (OFM Cap) said they would be leading a number of masses in different languages, including Korean, Arabic and Polish.

"We have priests from many countries conducting masses in their mother tongue; a Korean priest, an Italian priest. We even have a Filipino priest who studied in Spain leading a mass in Spanish. We are expecting a turnout of more than 15,000 across Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services," he told Khaleej Times.

With the December 25 date so close to the New Year, and 2019 now named the 'Year of Tolerance', Fr Gandolf said being able to celebrate one's holy holiday in a Muslim country is "a true show of the meaning of the word".

"It's an important part to mention. The problem for many smaller communities and congregations in some countries is that they don't have their own church. Our church offers space to more than 70 denominations of Christian faith and many services will be held for them throughout the Christmas period."

At St Mary's Catholic Church in Dubai, there will be several mass services on December 25 (Christmas Day), from 5.30am to 9:00pm. They will be held at different intervals, in English and Arabic.

Like St Joseph's Cathedral in Abu Dhabi, Christ Church in Jebel Ali - led by Rev. Timothy Heaney - will be sharing its building with other congregations.

"One thing the Anglican Church does all around the Gulf is share its building with other churches. There are 10 church buildings in Dubai but over 200 church congregations. So after we host our Christmas Mass at 10am on Tuesday, people will then come in and host different services from Orthodox to Evangelical. In a sense, that's the spirit of Christmas, bringing people together," he said.

From Christmas Eve to Christmas Day, Heaney said they expect about 10,000 residents to pass through the doors of the church.

In Oud Mehta, Fr Ninan Philip Panakkamattom, the vicar at St Thomas Orthodox Cathedral, will not be hosting a mass on Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, however, it held a service from 6.30pm to 10.30pm.

"Our tradition starts on Christmas Eve and we welcome about 10,000 residents. Ninety per cent of our churchgoers are from Kerala, but we also have members from the Russian and Ethiopian community. The Rulers of the UAE really take the term 'tolerance' seriously, and days like this, when we can all come together to celebrate our faith, prove that," he said.

Source: Khaleej Times