x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dh10m donated for mosque projects

More than 80 mosques will be built in the Emirates after a month-long fund-raising campaign gathered millions of dirhams.

ABU DHABI // More than 80 mosques will be built in the Emirates after a month-long fund-raising campaign gathered millions of dirhams, officials said. Members of the public donated Dh10 million (US$2.7m) to build new mosques and refurbish existing ones, while 82 other mosques each were financed by a person or family. About half of the total will be built in Al Ain, where the need for mosques is considered greatest, according to the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments, which ended the campaign on Thursday.

"Each new mosque will cost at least Dh2m, and the amount of small contributions here and there amounted to Dh10m," said the director general of the authority, Mohammed Mattar al Kaabi. The rest of the mosques will be built mostly in Bani Yas and Umm al Qaiwain. The Grouse's Nest campaign, launched in the first week of May, called for small donations from all residents, not just the wealthy. It will continue to accept donations indefinitely.

Part of the fund-raising effort involved a text-message campaign to Etisalat customers soliciting donations as small as Dh200 ($54). The authority said there were 200 locations throughout the country that needed new mosques, which will reflect Islamic architecture from a specific era, such as the Ottoman dynasty or Abassid caliphate. Construction has started on some. The first phase of the authority's campaign, to beautify mosques an ensure that buildings meet construction standards, began last year. It also sought to replace 400 temporary "caravan mosques," which were rased last year for failing to meet basic safety and hygiene standards.

Some communities protested the replacement of the caravan mosques, but the authority reiterated last month that there had been too many fires and other hazards resulting from poor construction and makeshift electrical wiring. The authority on Thursday also said it was preparing 50 nationals to work as religious advisers, teaching them, for instance, how to incorporate technology in their work. The authority says it issues about 1,000 fatwas per day in response to queries from Muslims submitted online or by phone about daily religious matters.

Nationalising imam and religious adviser positions has been a priority for the authority. There are only 20 female religious advisers who are Emiratis, a number the authority said it plans to increase. In a separate attempt to promote national women to top positions, the Dubai religious authority announced last week it was searching for a candidate to become the country's first female mufti, a high-level Islamic scholar. The revered position usually is only awarded to men.