Dubai, Dec 28 (EFE).- George Naoufal and Salwa Barish, a Lebanese Maronite Christian couple living in the United Arab Emirates had to wait until December 27 to celebrate Christmas mass in one of the Gulf country’s eleven churches, which have created a schedule with dates and time slots for people from different branches of Christianity and languages.
This year, George and Salwa chose to attend a sermon in Arabic at Dubai’sSt. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, where masses are given in 17 different languages.
“Usually we go to Lebanon, we celebrate with our parents, this year we couldn’t, we expect next year to celebrate with them, hopefully the situation will be better for everyone,” George tells Efe, referring to the pandemic that has not allowed them to return to Lebanon.
“We didn’t find anything different, we celebrated normally, with everything that we wanted to do and especially with our friends coming from different countries,” Salwa said.
The couple attended the 45-minute Christmas mass alongside dozens of people. At the exit, they exchanged congratulations with the other attendees, take photos and light candles to celebrate this Christmas several days late.
“We are in a country that respects and welcomes all religions and in record time I have already become friends of all religions and we share this in this holiday’s celebration,” Salwa adds.
The Emirati tolerance minister, Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan, recently revealed that Christian residents represent a ninth of the country’s inhabitants, having exceeded one million people.
The first Christian church in the UAE was built in 1965 in Abu Dhabi in which Pope Francis celebrated a massive mass attended by Christians residing in the UAE in 2019. EFE