‘A palpable sense of excitement’ about Pope’s visit, says Indian Ambassador

ABU DHABI, 2nd February, 2019 (WAM) – “The world’s attention will be focused on Abu Dhabi as Pope Francis arrives here tomorrow for his historic visit,” according to the Indian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Navdeep Suri.

” There is a palpable sense of excitement amongst the sizeable Indian Catholic community in the UAE, as indeed among so many other expatriates who will attend the Papal Mass. Representatives of other religious groups from India are already here to participate in the inter-faith dialogue that will coincide with the Pope’s visit,” the Ambassador said.

Catholics from India represent one of the largest components of the UAE’s Catholic community.

“At a personal level,” Suri added, “I am looking towards the visit of the Pope to the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Mosque. It is one of our favourite places in Abu Dhabi and the Pope’s visit there to meet leaders of other religious communities is the highest tribute to the values of tolerance and respect for other faiths that were articulated by the late Sheikh Zayed. His legacy is being carried forward by the sagacious leadership of Abu Dhabi and is reflected in the UAE’s decision to celebrate 2019 as the Year of Tolerance. By identifying five key pillars of tolerance that embody some of the noblest human values and by utilising the visit of the Pope to build upon these values, the UAE has clearly signaled that its words are being matched by tangible actions.”

“We have seen the same spirit of tolerance in the manner in which the UAE’s leadership readily agreed to India’s request for a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi and the active encouragement and support that is being provided for the ambitious temple project,” he said.

“As the ambassador of a country that has embodied the same spirit of tolerance over the millennia, that has provided safe haven and refuge to persecuted communities from so many countries and one that is home to so many different faiths, I applaud the initiatives being taken by the UAE to pro-actively promote a culture of tolerance,” Suri added.

He went on to note that: “We are fortunate that we are also celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of India’s Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi – an iconic global leader who not only advocated but also practiced tolerance with unusual rigour. We are drawing up an extensive calendar of events that will enable us to work closely with our friends in UAE for our shared objective of making this world a more tolerant place.”

WAM/Hassan Bashir

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