Christian expatriate’s act of kindness earns him admirers

FUJAIRAH, Saji Cheriyan's act of kindness of building a mosque has earned him the admiration of one and all and epitomised the UAE's spirit of inclusion and tolerance.

Cheriyan, a Fujairah-based Indian expatriate, built a mosque for blue-collar workers in Al Hayl industrial area and this Ramadan hosts an Iftar for them. Keeping with the festive spirit, the businessman, an Indian Christian, is fasting too.

"Workers had to pay between AED20 and AED30 as taxi fare to reach Fujairah city and pray at a mosque," Cheriyan told the English language daily 'Khaleej Times'.

"Others who could not afford it went to a nearby crusher unit. Therefore, last year, I built a mosque for them. I value and respect all religions. I believe that by giving, it will come back to you."

Cheriyan has also built an air-conditioned convention centre where he hosts hundreds of workers for the Iftar and breaks his fast with them. "These workers have toiled hard to build this nation. I find great satisfaction in feeding them during Ramadan. This is a feeling no money can buy. I have gone through hardships in my life so I understand the pain and needs of workers."

In 2004, Cheriyan landed at Dubai airport and instinctively picked Fujairah as a place to realise his goals.

"At the Deira taxi stand, I overheard people talking about job opportunities in Fujairah. I struggled for months without any money and walked miles in search of chances but did not give up."

Finally, the civil engineer got a small project and went through ups and downs, to eventually run the Middle East Group of Companies.

"Now I have enough money to lead a decent life. I will not be taking wealth along when I die, so I give to the needy," said Cheriyan who is supported by wife Elsy and children Sachin and Elwin. He is also planning 20 homes for the needy in his native place of Kayamkulam in Kerala, India.

Source: Emirates News Agency