Claim: Peter Obi claimed that the catholic church in Dubai was built by the Emir of Dubai
Verdict: True. St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Dubai was built on land donated by the then Emir of Dubai, Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum in 1966.
Full text: The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi claimed the catholic church in Dubai was built by the Emir of Dubai. He made this claim during his speech at the Obi/Datti presidential campaign rally in Kano state on January 23, 2023.
While speaking on the theme of religion and ethnicity being used as a dividing tool among Nigerians, particularly during elections. Obi said “…let them not tell you about religion, they have said it for several years. Muslims are becoming poor, Christians are poor and they are telling you about religion, this election is not about religion… If you go to Dubai, the catholic church there is built by the Emir of Dubai and he is a Muslim. So why are they dividing us here….”
According to a United States Department of State report on the United Arab Emirates, “the country’s constitution designates Islam as the official religion. It guarantees freedom of worship as long as it does not conflict with public policy or morals”.
Nigeria as a nation is religiously pluralistic, (the three major religions being Christianity, Islam and Traditional Religion). Nigeria is a secular state. This has been indicated in the constitution since independence. Religion has been a dominant factor in Nigerian politics, especially in this post-independence era. In whichever way one sees religion, the fact cannot be denied of its interaction with politics in Nigeria.
Several debates, conversations and news have ensued around the theme of religion since the commencement of activities for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria. From the issue of the Muslim-Muslim ticket to the discourse on the marginalisation of the Christian community and so on. There has also been a thread of misinformation/disinformation floating around, clogging the wheels of progress made by fact-checkers.
On the 23rd January 2023, the presidential candidate of the Labour party while admonishing the people of Kano to shun ethnic and religious biases in the forthcoming election claimed that the catholic church in Dubai was built by the Emir of Dubai, a Muslim.
Verification: Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country in Western Asia. Checks by FactCheckElections revealed there are two (2) Catholic churches in Dubai and these are St. Mary’s Catholic Church and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.
According to the Gulf News article published in April 2017, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Dubai, was founded by Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, then Ruler of Dubai, in 1966 when he donated land for the construction of the church. The church was said to be inaugurated on April 7, 1967, by Shaikh Rashid himself.
Conclusion: St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Dubai was built on land donated by the then Emir of Dubai, Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum in 1966.