DUBAI (Rahnuma) Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) — the global religious and civic organization that is part of the Swaminarayan branch of Hinduism — has announced that it has selected Singapore-based architects Raglan Squire and Partners (RSP) to oversee the design and construction of the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, granted land for the temple in Al-Rahba — close to Abu Dhabi city.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the project during his visit to the UAE in February.
“India and the Indians here in the UAE recognize that the UAE shares our values of inclusiveness and mutual progress, and today’s event is representative of that,” Navdeep Singh Suri, India’s ambassador to the UAE, said at the signing ceremony in Dubai on Thursday. “The UAE has the highest spirit of tolerance and brings people of all faiths and cultures together to develop a monumental project in the UAE.”
“I am very pleased that a Singaporean firm was chosen for this auspicious project. We treasure and guard the same values as India and the UAE. The entire essence of this project serves as an example of how different faiths and nationalities can come together,” said Samuel Tan Chi Tse, Singapore’s ambassador to the UAE.
The agreement was signed by Dr. B.R. Shetty, chairman of Mandir Limited (a non-profit company working under BAPS), and Lai Huen Poh, global managing director of RSP Architects, Planners and Engineers.
Shetty explained that BAPS’ traditional architects — known as “sompuras” — and engineers will design the stone temple, called “mandir” in Sanskrit. Its exterior will be made of pink sandstone from Rajasthan and its interior from white marble handcrafted by artisans in India.
RSP’s experts from Singapore, India and the UAE, along with BAPS’ core team and other consultants, will develop the cultural and spiritual complex around the temple, which will reportedly include places for children’s activities, exhibitions, multiple prayer halls to serve the community, and a “pure-vegetarian” food court, among other facilities.
The main part of the complex is scheduled for inauguration during Expo 2020, which will take place in Dubai.