x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Sharjah's first crematorium opens after 4-year wait

It is hoped people living in Dubai and the Northern Emirates will be able to use the facility.

Y . A . Rahim , President of the Indian Association Sharjah, inside the condolence hall at the Sharjah crematorium.
Y . A . Rahim , President of the Indian Association Sharjah, inside the condolence hall at the Sharjah crematorium.

Preeti Kannan

Hindus and Sikhs in Shajrah will now be able to observe the last rites for their dead at the emirate's first crematorium.

Located in Al Juwaiza opposite the Sharjah Cement Factory, it became operational on Thursday and is the fourth such unit in the country.

"We are glad it is finally ready," said YA Rahim, president of the Sharjah Indian Association (SIA).

"We are doing this only for the community. There was a lack of such a facility in Sharjah.

"Earlier we used to cremate the traditional way, using wood."

Known as the Hindu Sikh Crematorium, the facility is on 10 acres of land gifted by Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, Ruler of Sharjah.

Land was given to the community four years ago but the first phase of construction started only last year.

"This is because of lack of permissions and lack of funds, we could not do this before," said Mr Rahim.

Last November, the Indian government contributed Dh500,000 and further funds were raised from Indian businessmen in the Emirates.

The facility houses one gas-fuelled incinerator but a second will be added in the next few months. Each incinerator can cremate up to three bodies a day.

A separate burial ground will also be allotted within the facility for children below the age of five to be buried, according to Hindu custom.

The SIA yesterday said the total cost would be Dh6 million.

The authority said the purpose of the crematorium was to ease the performance of last rites for residents from Sharjah and the Northern Emirates.

The cost of cremation is about Dh3,500 - almost half the expense of shipping a body home.

But it can be difficult to get permission to cremate or bury in emirates other than the one in which the deceased's residence visa was issued.

The association said it would ask for permission to allow the facility to be used for deceased individuals who had been living outside the emirate.

Mr Rahim said: "The main reason is Dubai's crematorium does not accept bodies from other emirates. We are trying to facilitate the cremation of bodies from the Northern Emirates.

"We hope the Government of Sharjah will not place any restrictions."

pkannan@thenational.ae