Saji Cheriyan is a businessman from Kerala. In 2003 he moved to the UAE. Hundreds of Muslim workers live in the East Ville housing complex, Fujairah Emirate. "“I have grown up seeing communities living together in utmost harmony,” he said.
Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – For Ramadan, a Christian businessman from India gifted a mosque to hundreds of Muslim workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Last year Saji Cheriyan, 49, decided to build the place of worship in the East Ville residential complex in the Al Hayl industrial area, Fujairah, one of the seven emirates.
About 250 people can pray inside at any one time with room for another 700 in the outer courtyard, and now ready for Ramadan, the holy month of prayer and fasting that started last night.
The businessman named the mosque ‘Maryam, Umm Issa’ (Mary, Mother of Jesus), the second time the name Mary was given to a mosque.
Saji Cheriyan, an Orthodox Christian, is a married father of two from Kayamkulam, Kerala (southern India). He moved to the UAE in 2003.
Speaking to Gulf News, the businessman said he arrived with a few hundreds dirham (the local currency. Since he immigrated, he has gone through ups and downs.
Hundreds of Muslims live in the Al Hayl industrial area. He said he decided to build the mosque after he saw workers taking taxis to go to the nearest mosque.
“They have to spend at least Dh20 to go to Fujairah city or another industrial area to attend the Juma prayer in a mosque. So, I thought it will make them happy if I build a mosque here next to their accommodation.”
“Awqaf officials were surprised and happy when they got to know I am a Christian who wishes to build a mosque. They offered me all the[ir] support,” Saji explained.
However, for him, it was no bid deal. “I have grown up seeing communities living together in utmost harmony. We celebrate all religions’ festivals and I don’t judge or treat people based on religion, caste, colour or nationality. The UAE is another example of communal harmony and tolerance.”