Guru Nanak Darbar, Dubai, UAE: The Largest Gurdwara in the Gulf

The UAE and India have always enjoyed friendly relations, with Dubai serving as the oasis of religious tolerance.

In prior times, Sikhs residing in the UAE had no place to worship or celebrate festivals and weddings. In Dubai, the Bur Dubai temple and private homes that were being used for large congregations were literally bursting, which prompted leaders of the community to seek the possibility of establishing a larger place of worship of the holy Guru Granth Sahib.

They grew from a meagre five families to eventually 10-50 families, and it became extremely hard for them to coax the hostess to deliver 400 chapattis in a day. So, they decided everyone brings in 10 chapattis, while the hostess cooks the dal and vegetables.

The very thought of constructing a permanent, exclusive Gurdwara in the heart of an Islamic country was seen as some sort of Arabian mirage. The demand for a permanent Gurdwara was made 27 years ago. The eventual proposals kept getting rejected, but the Sikh community did not give up.

It was a pleasant and welcome surprise to receive the consent from the Council of Imams. To add to the joy of the Sikhs, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makhtoum, gifted the community a piece of land free of all charges for the construction of the Sikh Gurdwara.

In June 2010, the foundation was laid for Guru Nanak Darbar amidst all the Sikh ceremonies. The unthinkable has eventually happened. This Gurdwara, which was to rise from the Dubai sands, was the first, official Sikh temple in the entire Gulf religion. This was a historic moment for the local Sikh community. Now, there would be a Gurdwara to solemnise marriages and conduct other religious ceremonies.

The community’s dream was to make it the best Gurdwara in the world, after the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

The internationally renowned Dubai-based architect firm, Holford Associates, has come up with the ultimate design for the Dubai Gurdwara. The same firm was involved in designing Shri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara on Havelock Road, situated in Southall, London.

Before they were awarded the contract, the architects were sent on a tour to visit Gurdwaras across the globe, find each Gurdwara’s imperfections, and create an immaculate and perfect Gurdwara.

Construction work was completed in December 2011. On January 17, 2012, the largest Gurdwara in the Gulf was thrown open to more than 50,000 devotees. The Guru Nanak Darbar is a multi-storey facility spread across 100,000 sq. ft.

The splendid edifice was worth every cent of the $20 million USD spent in creating it. The spiritual void was now filled as Sikhs had access to a place of worship and prayer. This magnanimous gesture from the UAE marked the beginning of a new chapter in the cordial relations between the Sikh and Arab communities.

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