College of Arts and Sciences

Khalifa University’s Project on UAE’s Values of Tolerance Showcased to Diverse Religious Leaders

January 27, 2020

Touch-Screens Developed by Students Offer Details on More Than 450 Individuals of 15 Different Faiths Buried between 1963 and 2012 at Sas Al Nakhl Non-Muslim Cemetery

Khalifa University today showcased a ‘Digital Repository for Abu Dhabi’s First Non-Muslim Cemetery’ – touch-screens offering details of those buried at the Sas Al Nakhl Non-Muslim Cemetery to various religious leaders as part of the university’s initiative to celebrate the values of tolerance in the UAE.

Religious leaders representing the Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox and other Christian churches, as well as leaders from Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist faiths attended the event during which they acknowledged the efforts behind the project. The touch-screens provide details of the deceased, buried from the early 1960s to 2012. According to available records, around 450 known individuals of 15 different faiths were buried at the cemetery between 1963 and 2012. Since the year 2012, all non-Muslim burials have been shifted to the Bani Yas Graveyard.

His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Member of the Executive Council, head of the Department of Community Development, was present on the occasion.

Religious leaders who attended the event included Rev. Fr. Gandolf Wild, OFM Cap., Vice Secretary to His Excellency Bishop Paul Hinder, and Rev Fr Abishai Vase, both from St Joseph’s Cathedral – Abu Dhabi, Rev. Canon Andrew Thompson of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church – Abu Dhabi, Rev Martell Menlove from Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Abu Dhabi, and Rev Father Mikhail Bilmilad Hani Youssef, Coptic Orthodox Church – Al Ain.

Dr Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, said: “Khalifa University is privileged to have contributed to this historic project and developed these touch-screens as part of its commitment to the values of tolerance, which demonstrates the UAE’s enduring acceptance of other religions, as directed by the country’s leadership. The cemetery project is a perfect illustration of the UAE’s diverse and inclusive culture, and the values of co-existence and peace that have been key pillars of the country, right from the beginning. Khalifa University has undertaken this initiative to preserve and promote religious harmony, an important legacy of the UAE.”

Gathered meticulously by several university students including 10 students from Khalifa University, the Sas Al Nakhl (Umm Al Nar) Non-Muslim Cemetery project was the culmination of several months of dedicated work. The project was led by Dr. Athol Yates, Assistant Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, Khalifa University, with support from Abu Dhabi Police. The touchscreen application is designed to mimic a virtual guide to the first non-Muslim cemetery in Abu Dhabi.

Details of the individuals, extracted from death certificates, belonged to the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Armenian Apostolic, Apostolic Christian, Coptic Orthodox, Indian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Protestant, Evangelical and various Christian denominations, as well as Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh faiths.

The touchscreen offers details of a deceased individual, such as name, religious affiliation and other information as catalogued from the death certificates. Users of the touchscreen will be able to view an aerial photograph of the cemetery showing the location of graves, as well as background information about the cemetery, statistical details and relevant information.

The touchscreen also makes it easy to access the full list of those known to have been buried at the Sas Al Nakhl Non-Muslim Cemetery, with location of individual graves and tombstones.

Clarence Michael
News Writer
27 January 2020