The western Christian societies accept temples of nearly every denomination in the world, as religious ‘tolerance’ becomes the lay of the land.
Trouble is, many countries of the world – notably Muslim majority countries – do not have the same appreciation for a ‘diversity’ of creed.
Among the most dangerous countries for Christians are several Muslim ones: Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Eritrea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran.
Given this state of affairs, it comes as no small surprise that the first stone-built Hindu temple is soon to open in the Middle East.
Associated Press reported:
“The soon-to-open BAPS Hindu Mandir signals how far the United Arab Emirates has come in acknowledging the different faiths of its expatriate community, long dominated by Indians across construction sites and boardrooms. The temple nods back in its seven spires, the number of sheikhdoms in this autocratic federation on the Arabian Peninsula.
It is also a sign of how close relations have become between the UAE and India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive Tuesday on his seventh trip to the Emirates just ahead of elections in the world’s largest democracy. He hopes to further business, defense and cultural ties while cementing his relationship with a man he calls his brother, UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.”
With its pink sandstone spires, the Hindu Mandir stands out in the empty vastness of the desert in Abu Mureikha, just off the main highway linking Dubai to Abu Dhabi.
“Smaller temples have existed for decades in the UAE, but none following the traditional building techniques of the Hindu Mandir. Its carved stones fit like a jigsaw puzzle and provide support without relying on the steel beams of modern architecture.”
Images of Elephants, oryx and other animals are very present. Symbols of ancient Egyptians and architectural nods to Islam, the UAE’s official religion, are also present.
Builders hope to show all faiths are welcome at the site.
“’Harmony is the only future we have’, Pujya Brahmavihari Swami, a religious leader overseeing construction, told The Associated Press. ‘If we cannot coexist on this small planet that we have, then do we have a future?’
Of the over 9 million people living in the UAE, India estimates more than 3.5 million are Indian expatriates, making them the largest group of people in the country, including Emirati citizens. While many are low-paid laborers, there’s a growing number of white-collar professionals and multiple generations of Indian families.”
India and the UAE have long-standing economic and historic ties, and the bilateral trade is worth tens of billions per year.
Dedollarization is ongoing, with the countries agreeing to allow India to settle some payments in rupees – as opposed to dollars – lowering transaction costs.
“His personal connection to Sheikh Mohammed seems to be driving the deepening relationship, Solanki said. In January, the Indian and Emirati armies held the first edition of a military exercise called Desert Cyclone in India. ‘It just enables the trust levels and the two sides being more willing to work on these sensitive issues’, Solanki said.”