Visit by Pope Francis, Grand Imam of Al Azhar to Sheikh Zayed mosque symbolises inter-faith dialogue

ABU DHABI, 4th February, 2019 (WAM) – As part of his visit to the United Arab Emirates, which began yesterday, His Holiness Pope Francis, the Head of the Catholic Church, today visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, with His Eminence the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb.

The visit to the UAE’s largest mosque is the first time a Pontiff has visited a mosque in the Arabian Peninsula and is seen as marking marks another step in the country’s long history of encouraging multi-faith and intercultural dialogue.

The visit was part of the official programme for the visit by the Pope and the Grand Imam as they both participate in the Human Fraternity Meeting that coincides with the Global Conference on Human Fraternity, which has attracted 700 participants around the world from different faiths.

The Conference has three key themes of discussion which are fundamental elements of human fraternity and form the central message of the UAE’s multi-faith outlook: the importance of joint initiatives, dialogue for peaceful progress and the opportunities that exist for stronger cooperation to promote shared values in the future.

The historic visit, during the UAE’s Year of Tolerance, is the first time a Catholic Pope has ever visited the UAE and the first time a Pontiff has undertaken an official visit alongside a Muslim religious figure as significant as the Grand Imam.

The construction of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque began in November 1996, with the internal prayer halls first opened for worship during Eid Al Adha in 2007.

WAM/Tariq alfaham

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