A FAMILY owned furniture manufacturer has completed a contract to fit out the first crematorium widely open to expatriates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
As part of the £80,000 deal North Yorkshire based Treske Ltd made furniture for the new crematorium chapel at Al Foah, outside Al Ain, the fourth largest city in the UAE.
It is the first crematorium in the city, which is home to 400,000 expatriates, and only the second in the UAE, with the other facility in Dubai subject to strict restrictions.
The 40-year-old family owned business, based in Thirsk, supplied oak and beechwood furniture including seats, an altar, lectern and two-metre wall-mounted cross, amongst other fittings.
Treske, employing 25 staff and with a £1.6m turnover, has previously exported church and domestic furniture to countries including Japan and the US, with exports representing about seven per cent of the company's turnover.
Treske's managing director, Justin Bartlett, said: "We are confident that this initial order to The Gulf will lead to more and are currently working on an enquiry from Abu Dhabi.
"We now have big ambitions to increase exporting to 20 per cent of our business in the next few years.
"As we had never previously exported to The Gulf, we contacted Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce for advice, which was very useful."
Head of York and North Yorkshire Chamber, Susie Cawood, says: "Exporting by successful manufacturers is crucial for the UK's fragile economy."
Although Al Ain enjoys religious freedom under the UAE constitution, and has several churches where expatriate Christians worship, cremation has been virtually impossible in the wider region as it is generally prohibited for religious reasons.
The UAE's only existing licensed crematorium at Dubai strictly adhered to resident visa requirements which meant that even expatriates which had spent many years in the country were not able to have their funerals there.
Repatriating bodies for cremation or burial in the UK can be exorbitantly expensive.
The chapel is to be handed over by the Al Ain Municipality next month and is expected to be blessed and officially opened by The Bishop of Cyprus and The Gulf, The Right Rev Michael Lewis, after which it will be used for regular services.
In 2009 Treske manufactured 282 oak seats for a refit of Ripon Cathedral.