x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Indians welcome their new Ajman hall

The Ajman Indian Association social centre, a Dh20 million project, is scheduled to open this weekend.

Indians in the Northern Emirates are celebrating the opening of a Dh20 million community and sports hall.

The Ajman Indian Association hall opened at the start of this month. It is the first of its kind in the emirate and features a swimming pool and badminton courts, reading hall and room for cultural activities.

Meanwhile, work on a crematorium in Sharjah, which is also part of the wide-reaching community project, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Four hectares of land were donated by Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, Ruler of Sharjah, for the crematorium, which will cost about Dh10m.

Land for the community hall was granted by Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid, Ruler of Ajman.

The Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi donated Dh800,000 to the construction of both projects.

There are more than 1.8 million Indians in the UAE, most of whom live in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

"The embassy donated a token amount of Dh300,000 to the construction of the new community centre in Ajman and Dh500,000 to the crematorium," said MK Lokesh, the Indian ambassador to the UAE.

"We have received the approval from the Indian government recently to donate this amount."

Sheikh Humaid laid the foundation stone for the Ajman Indian Association on January 11 last year in a ceremony attended by Mr Lokesh, Sanjay Verma, the consul general of India, and members of the Indian business community.

This is the first community centre of its kind in Ajman, which is home to about 200,000 Indians.

More donations towards the crematorium project are expected from community members and well-wishers in the UAE, the ambassador said.

The embassy has raised about Dh1.5m through the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) since 2009 for various community welfare activities.

In the past three years, the mission's funds have gone towards providing shelter, emergency medical care, airline tickets and legal expenses for Indians in the UAE. It also helped to pay for the repatriation of bodies.

"We are regularly spending the money on different community related activities but I love to spend on such good facilities like a crematorium and community centre that would benefit our people on a larger scale," Mr Lokesh said.

"The Ajman centre is expected to serve a larger number of people as most of the Indians are residing in the Northern Emirates of the country."

He thanked the Rulers of Sharjah and Ajman for their generous gifts to the Indian community.

"Construction on the 10-acre site donated by the Ruler of Sharjah is going on and expected to be completed in the coming five months," said YA Rahim, president of the Indian Association Sharjah.

Mr Rahim said the facility will serve the Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists in the community. Work on a graveyard for Indian Muslims and Christians is also under way.

Mr Rahim said he appreciated the contributions of the Indian government but community members should also donate.

anwar@thenational.ae