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Greek Orthodox Church in Dubai > Gulf’s first May 19, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora, Religion & Faith.

Work is due to begin in about a week’s time on a church that is set to be the first of its kind in the Gulf.

St Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church will be built in traditional Byzantine design on land donated by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Gulf News reports.

The building will cost a total of about Dh15m and already about one quarter of the final cost has been covered by donations of money, materials and labour. John Theodory, an Arab Canadian who is chairman of the church committee, said construction would take one-and-a-half years.

“It’s really something. It is quite an achievement. People have been really enthusiastic with their support by making donations or offering materials and things are really working fast now. We have enough to start on the project without hesitation,” he said.

Final permission to commence construction was received about three weeks ago, and Theodory said he hoped contractors would begin preparing the site, an 1,800 square metre plot of land in Jebel Ali, later this month with actual construction set to begin next month.

Iraq has a Greek Orthodox Church and there is one in a rented villa in Kuwait, but St Mary’s will reportedly be the first Greek Orthodox Church built in Byzantine design in the Gulf region. Greek Orthodox Christians in the UAE so long had to use other churches for their services, which regularly attract as many as 400 people, swelling to 2,000 during major Christian events such as Easter.

The new church will have a main hall with a capacity of about 400 worshippers, plus a gallery with space for a further 100 or so. Much of the work on the basement of the church is being done for free by a contractor, Theodory said. Efforts will be on to raise the remaining funds to finish the construction, both by generating donations and securing materials and labour from contractors.

Services are likely to be conducted in Arabic and Greek for worshippers from Russia, Syria, Greece, the Ukraine and Cyprus, among other places.

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