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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

In pictures: Christmas Eve celebrated in the UAE's historic church

The outdoor ceremony saw many in attendance

Christians in the UAE gathered for the traditional Christmas Eve mass at St Joseph's Cathedral in Abu Dhabi.

Worshippers joined together to pray and a choir dressed in red and black sang hymns during the outdoor ceremony.

Some of the congregation lit a candle, while others admired the nativity scene and large decorated Christmas tree.

The foundation stone of the first church in Abu Dhabi was laid in 1962. The stone was blessed in February 1964 on a plot of land along the present Corniche, donated by Sheikh Shakbut, the ruler of Abu Dhabi at that time. On February 19, 1965 the first Church was inaugurated.

The first church no longer exists and on 19 March 1981, the foundation for the present St. Joseph's Cathedral was laid after it was decided the church needed to be moved to a different location. The inauguration of the new complex took place on 25 February 1983, in the presence of Sheikh Shakbut.

The parish today has over 100,000 expatriate Catholics from all over the world.

The Masses are celebrated in several different languages and attendance is high.

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