The building of a crematorium is not really news worthy, well not in the UK, however they are not that common in the middle east. Islam doesn’t allow the cremation of its followers – they must be buried. However the startling fact is in the United Arab Emirates 85% of the 8.2 million residents are from other parts of the world. And there were about 4,300 expatriate deaths officially recorded in the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai alone in 2010.
Many of these were from the Indian sub-continent, people from this region – usually men – make up many of the expatriate deaths in the country, accidents on the road and the construction industry take a significant toll. Currently the employer has to make a contribution to the repatriation of the deceased with the relative’s family making up the rest. But this can be very expensive for the families even if the company is a significant contributor. So a private company with high degree municipal authority support has built the cremation facility to cope with the demand, although oddly since completion in January there has not been much (12 people) – the company expects that as word spreads this will dramatically increase.
Apparently according to the spokesman for the crematoria it is not the facility itself that has caused bewilderment, in fact he adds the site has strong local support, it is coffins which provoke the largest amount of cultural bafflement. He says: “Many of my Emirati friends cannot quite grasp the reason why we non-Muslims go to great expense and a great lot of trouble to manufacture a box of high quality timber, fancy linings, fancy cushions etcetera, purely for it to go into the cremator and be burned or to be buried in the ground never to be seen again.
“This doesn’t quite come over as a practical exercise.”
Umm, he has a point I feel!