HAVANA, 20 Sept. Saudi Arabia will fund a mosque in Cuba serving the island’s Muslim community, according to Havana’s envoy to Saudi Arabia.In an interview broadcast on Saudi state TV, Vladimir Gonzalez, said: “Because of this donation from the Saudi side, today we can say that we’re building in Havana the first mosque in our country.”
“We have a small Muslim community in our country; they are very organized. I’m honored to facilitate their life as Muslim people in Cuba,” he added.
Up until now Cuba’s Muslim community, estimated to be no more than 9,000, has been praying either at home or in makeshift prayer spaces.
Currently, Friday prayers are conducted at Casa de los Arabes (The Arab House) which primarily serves Muslim diplomats and tourists. It is said to have once belonged to a wealthy Arab immigrant who lived in Cuba during the 1940s and was built according to Andalusian architectural designs.
“Saudi Arabia was the first Arab nation that established diplomatic relations with Cuba,” Gonzalez said. Riyadh’s diplomatic relations with Havana date back to 1956.
In 2015 it was reported that both Turkiye and Saudi Arabia had expressed interest in building the Caribbean country’s first purpose-built mosque. At the time President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Ankara had applied for permission along with Riyadh to Cuban officials but was still awaiting a response.
Last year, a delegation from the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) visited Cuba and inaugurated a project to rehabilitate the water and sewage system in central Cuba. The delegation also inspected the King Salman Mosque project in Havana, which according to Arab News will cost $9.3 million.