Pope Francis, Grand Imam arrived in UAE

By Eudore R. Chand

ABU DHABI 2 February 2019: The UAE will host the largest and most diverse gathering of religious leaders, thinkers and faith representatives seen in the Arab World at the Global Conference on Human Fraternity in Abu Dhabi on 3-4 February organized by the Muslim Council of Elders.

An estimated 700 individuals are expected to participate at the meeting which will be the first of its kind and reinforcing the UAE’s role as a capital for tolerance and interfaith discussion and peaceful dialogue.

It coincides with the historic joint visit of His Holiness Pope Francis and his Eminence the Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb for the Human Fraternity Meeting from 3-5 February in the UAE capital.

The conference will have three key themes of discussion that are the Fundamentals of Human Fraternity; the importance of joint initiatives and dialogue for peaceful progress and the opportunities that exist for stronger cooperation to promote shared values in the future.

It is being coordinated by the Muslim Council of Elders who hope that this conference will be a springboard for developing stronger tolerance and harmony between all religions and faiths.

Global Stage

Dr. Sultan Faisal Al Remeithi, General Secretary of the Muslim Council of Elders said: “The Conference will provide a global stage for multiple faiths to discuss key issues relating to peaceful coexistence, tolerance and human values, driven by open interfaith dialogue”.

Home to more than 200 nationalities, the UAE has a long history of embracing those from multiple religious and ethnic backgrounds, and we are proud to be a hub that connects people from across the globe.

The important contribution that the UAE continues to make as a major contributor to the promotion of world peace was a key reason why the country was chosen by both His Holiness the Pope and His Eminence the Grand Iman as the venue for their landmark visit.

The visit marks the first time a Pontiff has visited the GCC, and is the first time any Papal visit has coincided with a religious figure as significant as the Grand Imam.

Papal Mass

Other events during the visit will include a Papal Mass given by Pope Francis on Tuesday, which is expected to attract up to 135,000 people, and a bilateral meeting between Pope Francis, the Grand Imam and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

The joint visit is a highly significant occasion for the UAE in 2019, which has been declared The Year of Tolerance, to further strengthen the nation’s role of encouraging stability and prosperity in the region. The country has a long and proud history of inter-faith dialogue and freedom of religious expression and the first Catholic Church in the country was established in Abu Dhabi in 1965. Archeologists have also found remains of a church and monastery on Sir Bani Yas Island dating back to the 7th Century.

Today there are a total of 76 Churches and other places of worship in the UAE and the Government has also donated land for the development of new places of worship within the country.

Dubai Gazette