Dubai: An Indian Christian businessman, who built a mosque for Muslim workers in the UAE, is serving iftar meals to nearly 800 workers during the ongoing month of Ramzan.
Saji Cheriyan, 49, who hails from Kerala's Kayamkulam, built the mosque last year for Muslim workers living in a worker accommodation that he rented out to 53 companies in Fujairah.
He built the Mariam Umm Eisa (Mary, the Mother of Jesus) mosque after he saw workers spending their earnings on taking taxis to go to the nearest mosque to offer prayers during the holy month.
Ramzan this year began on May 7.
Cheriyan, who landed in the UAE in 2003 with just a few hundred dirhams, hosts iftar for about 800 people including workers and other senior employees of various companies at an air conditioned convention centre in the same complex, the Gulf News reported.
The mosque opened on the 17th night of Ramadan last year. So, I could offer iftar to the worshippers only for the remaining days. From this year, I would be doing it every day, he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
The iftar meal includes dates, fresh fruits, snacks, juice, water and biryani. I have made arrangements to offer different types of biryani so that they don't get bored eating the same dish every iftar, he said.
Abdul Qayum, a 63-year-old Pakistani bus driver, who had iftar on Wednesday, appreciated Cheriyan's efforts.
The world needs people like him. If there are no people like him, the world will end. We are praying for him. Allah will bless him.
Vajas Abdul Wahid, an Indian employed as assistant manager with a company, said there are employees of more than 50 companies living in the area.
"Senior employees and labourers are staying in separate accommodations. But, when we come here, we are all equal. We pray and have iftar together, he added.
The mosque in the East Ville Real Estate complex in Al Hayl Industrial Area can accommodate 250 worshippers at a time. Facilities for another 700 to pray in the interlocked courtyard of the mosque, which will be shaded by the time it opens, have also been arranged.
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Islamabad: Pakistan is ready to hold talks with the new Indian government to resolve all outstanding issues, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said.
Addressing an Iftar dinner in Multan on Saturday, Qureshi said both India and Pakistan should sit on negotiation table to solve issues for the sake of prosperity and peace of the region, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.
His remarks came two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday led his Bharatiya Janata Party towards a super-sized victory for a second term in office.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday congratulated Modi on his electoral triumph and expressed desire to work with him for peace and prosperity in the region.
"I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia," Khan tweeted in both English and Urdu.
In April, Khan said he believed there may be a better chance of peace talks with India and settle the Kashmir issue if Modi's party wins the general elections.
The results of India's general elections are very significant for Pakistan as the new government in New Delhi will determine the course of Indo-Pakistan ties, which were pushed to a new low after the Pulwama terror attack.
Just a day before the announcement of results, Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday exchanged pleasantries on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Foreign Ministers' meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. He conveyed to her Pakistan's desire to resolve all issues through dialogue.
Tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.
Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an IAF pilot, who was handed over to India.