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JEBEL ALI, Dubai, UAE "This is an answer to our prayers," enthused John Joseph Nallor of the Marthoma Church at the opening of the Bible Society in the Gulf's new Bible centre in Jebel Ali on October 30. His joy at the creation of this facility, the first of its kind in the United Arab Emirates, is shared by all those who have been striving for many years to make affordable Scriptures more readily available in the region.

After the opening of the Jebel Ali Bible Centre on October 30, 2003 people rushed to purchase a Bible or book of their choice. Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The opening ceremony, attended by representatives from various denominations present in the UAE and by the Rev Miller Milloy, United Bible Societies Associate General Secretary, Europe-Middle East, graphically portrayed the interconfessional nature of the Bible Society. Executive Secretary Hrayr Jebejian welcomed the guests by telling them, "This is your home. Each and every one of you should think of it that way." Later, church leaders participated in prayers of dedication and 39 people representing different countries and languages paraded holding a copy of the Bible in their mother tongue. Seeing these people in their national costume and hearing them read from the Bible and sing with great emotion was "a feast to the eye and to the heart a foretaste of heaven!" according to Babu Ganta, the Society's Information and Church Relations Officer.

The new Bible centre is the fruit of collaboration with the Dubai Evangelical Church Centre, its neighbour. Its bookshop will supply resources for the Christian community in the area, while its Scripture interaction unit, equipped with latest multimedia technology, aims to bring together people of all ages and backgrounds to encounter the Scriptures in a wide range of languages and to receive assistance with understanding them.
With the UAE being home to more than 300,000 expatriate Christians, the needs that the centre will be seeking to meet are extremely varied. In particular, it will be looking to serve the many expatriates who are unable to read and work in low-paid jobs. For this reason, samples of the MegaVoice unit, which uses solar or battery power to play pre-recorded music and Bible Selections (see World Report 379/19), will be available at the centre. It is hoped that, with financial support from churches, it will be possible to offer MegaVoice units in many different languages.

The Bible Society has also responded to requests from the evangelical churches in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain to establish similar outlets, thus making the Scriptures more readily available to the Christian community in these places too. Churches and individuals are now being invited to sponsor the cost of fitting out these outlets with display units.

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