ABU DHABI, 2nd February, 2019 (WAM) – The visit by Pope Francis to the UAE and his meeting with Dr. Ahmed Al Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar, “is a clear indication of the country’s position as the driving force behind the values and culture of coexistence and peace,” according to the director general of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research, ECSSR, Professor Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi.
Their meeting will take place during the Global Conference for Human Fraternity, which is also being attended by leaders of other faiths.
This highlights, he said, “the importance of the UAE in spreading the values of love, coexistence, brotherhood and peace.” The meeting, he added, is also of global significance, “in bringing together two of the world’s leading religious figures, who have nominated the UAE as a mutual base for spearheading activities of peace and harmony.”
The Pope’s visit, the first of its kind to the UAE and Gulf region, Professor Al Suwaidi said, will be notable for his participation in discussions with leaders of other faiths, in particular Muslims. This, he added, draws attention to what he described as “the UAE’s commitment in promoting dialogue across cultures and civilisations, both intellectually and institutionally, and in highlighting the shared values between religions such as tolerance, coexistence, and love.”
“Through this historic event,” he added, “the UAE will reinforce its stance against extremism and terrorism, combating it by strengthening the role of individuals and religious institutions in spreading the culture of peace, dialogue, and coexistence, in addition to achieving prosperity and well-being, regionally and globally.”
He noted that the visits by Pope Francis and Dr. Al Tayeb, following invitations by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, coincide with the decision of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan that 2019 should be the Year of Tolerance in the UAE.
“This blessed land,” Professor Al Suwaidi said, “is a country which hosts more than 200 nationalities all living and working without discrimination, regardless of religion, race, language, or colour. It was created to be a cradle for diversity, and a melting pot for all those who aspire to happiness, excellence, well-being, and stability.”