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Despite normalization with Israel, plans for Dubai synagogue at a standstill

, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Every Saturday, in secluded beach villas, hotel banquet halls and luxury apartment towers across Dubai, Jews arrive to worship at some of the world’s most hidden synagogues even as the United Arab Emirates encourages the dramatic growth and openness of its Jewish community.

Plans to build a permanent sanctuary for Dubai’s fast-expanding congregation have sputtered to a standstill, Jewish leaders say. The new community is running up against hurdles that religious groups long have grappled with in this federation, where the state’s official religion of Islam is closely monitored, non-Muslim practice is controlled and religious buildings are limited.

The fast-growing population of Jewish immigrants to the UAE — including an influx of Israelis after the countries normalized relations in 2020 and recently of Russians after the war on Ukraine — may feel freer than ever to express their identity in this autocratic Arab sheikhdom, which has sought

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