Dubai Marina community grows with new mosque
DUBAI // Ramadan is different this year for Muslims living in Dubai Marina.
Instead of cramming into a small prayer rooms in offices or driving to different neighbourhoods, now worshippers can visit their own, newly built mosque.
“For three years we had nowhere to pray,” said Samiullah Khushi, 28, a Pakistani who works in Dubai Marina.
“We had to go to a government building where they had a small prayer room. It was very crowded. It was the only place we could pray as a group.
“Now, praise to God, we have this beautiful mosque. I pray every dhuhr [noon] and asr [afternoon] prayers here.”
The Masjid Al Rahim mosque opened last October at the southern end of Dubai Marina.
It is the only mosque in the densely populated, high-rise neighbourhood. Worshippers say it has helped to bring people together, especially during the holy month.
“This mosque has really brought the community together,” said Salem Aboud, 69, an Iraqi who goes every day during Ramadan to pray and recite the Quran.
“We were all neighbours and didn’t know each other until we met at this mosque. Now we have made many friends. It’s like one big family.”
Mr Aboud regularly goes to pray-ers with close friend Wafiq Al Riz.
“If you live in a villa neighbourhood you have a chance to meet your neighbour and get to know each other, but in these buildings no one knows who you are,” said the Syrian Mr Al Riz, 64.
“Mosques have traditionally been a community gathering place. It’s nice to see one do that again.”
The mosque is the fifth of 99 to be built around Dubai by Sheikha Manal, daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
Sheikha Manal is also wife of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
It is equipped with a library and a school where students can memorise the Quran.
“We are still auditing the library and school. We have a lot of books, but not enough to fill the shelves,” said Sayed Saleem, 26, the muezzin.
“I used to work at a mosque in Al Warqa before coming here. That community was completely Arabic, here there are people from so many different nationalities and so many different languages.
“I can handle Arabic and English, but I’ve had to find interpreters for all the other languages when they come to me with questions.”
Construction foreman Bilal Akram, who works at a building site next to the mosque, said it was a lifeline for him and his colleagues.
“If it wasn’t for this mosque we would be stuck trying to scrape up some money to get iftar, which can be expensive,” said the 30-year-old Pakistani. “Many people come for iftar at this mosque and we are lucky to have it so close. It has been a blessing for us.”
Real estate agent Mohammed Khurram, 31, said his clients had been asking for flats next to the mosque since it opened late last year.
“Everything within walking distance from here has been in high demand,” said Mr Khurram, from Pakistan.
“Dubai Marina definitely needs more mosques. The majority of people here are Muslim.
“The imam is very good, is always on time and gives good advice. The mosque has excellent facilities, but the ablution stations are not working properly and that needs changing.”
Emirati stand-up comic Ali Al Sayed moved from Jumeirah Lakes Towers last month to a flat just across the street from the mosque.
“Growing up, my father always made sure we lived near a mosque, and that has rubbed off on me I guess,” Al Sayed said.
“I come for fajr [dawn] prayers and there are four or five rows of people. I hope that continues after Ramadan.
“One thing I’ve noticed is people stick around to talk after prayers. Only a handful of people did that at the last mosque I used to go to, here everyone does it.”
The sense of community has helped to make this mosque a special place for Mr Saleem.
“If someone misses a few days people start asking about him and making sure everything is fine,” he said.