Bridging Faiths: Sikhism’s UAE Odyssey

Surender Singh Kandhari,  Chairman, Al Dobowi Group and his wife, Bubbles Kandhari are the pioneers of Sikhism in the UAE. Their journey began with a childhood promise and a palm reader’s prophecy, leading to the establishment of Gurudwaras in the Middle East. Through challenges and triumphs, their dedication to community service and interfaith harmony shines brightly.

What inspired you both to embark on the journey of establishing gurudwaras in the UAE?

It all started more than 58 years ago when my grandfather Atma Singh, who himself had helped build a Gurudwara in Vijayawada, in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, in 1956, told his eight-year-old grandson Surender Singh Kandhari, that one day he too must help build a Gurudwara when he grew up.

I was just eight-years-old at that time and it struck me as a bit odd that my grandfather should ask me to do something as huge as that.

Then strangely, when I was 12-years-old and studying at Hyderabad Public School, an itinerant palm reader told me that by the age of 45, I would become a priest. I promptly told him “no” as I wanted to run our three generation old family business in automotive spare parts in India. I had no intention of giving it all up. However, that incident stuck in my mind and often made me think about what my grandfather said to me years ago.

The idea of the Gurudwara germinated 13 years ago with the growing need of a proper place of worship for the Sikhs, who until January 2012 shared space in the temple premises in Bur Dubai.

A Gurudwara is not just the house of God for us, it is the life force that ties the whole Sikh community together and our lives revolve around it.  That was missing here. I decided to do something about it and along with other prominent members of the Sikh & Sindhi community in the UAE spearheaded the community’s efforts to build a Gurudwara in Dubai.

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