It was Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, who had announced in December (2018) that 2019 would be officially proclaimed as the ‘Year of Tolerance’, as he invited Pope Francis to visit Abu Dhabi…
The first leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics accepted his invitation, and arrived in the West Asian country on February 3 for a three-day visit. Only History can speak whether this visit was historic, or not… Experts have conjectured that the trip of Pope Francis to West Asia as a major turning point in the field of global geopolitics!
Religious Extremism, Politicisation of Religion and Terrorism in the name of Religion have become common phenomena in today’s world… Hence, clashes between civilisations have also become inevitable in Europe and other parts of the globe.
The Arab world, too, faces the heat. In this prevailing situation, a meeting between two religions has certainly sent a strong message to the global community… and both the host and the guest naturally deserve special appreciation for this effort.
It was said that the ideal environment for a peaceful coexistence could only be created by maintaining cordial relations between various cultures, and also by building an atmosphere of discussions.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, receives Pope Francis at the Presidential Palace
On February 4, the Pontiff visited the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and attended a private meeting with members of the Muslim Council of Elders, after which the International Interfaith Meeting – the primary cause for the Pope’s visit to the UAE – took place at the Founder’s Memorial. At the International Interfaith Meeting, Pope Francis was presented with a copy of Celebrating Tolerance written by the Reverend Andy Thompson, MBE. The book is the first of its kind, published to coincide with the Year of Tolerance. It features a foreword from His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, the UAE Minister of Tolerance. Before leaving for Rome on February 5, the Pope paid a private visit to the Cathedral in Abu Dhabi and also attended the Holy Mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium.
Ahmad el Tayyeb with Pope Francis
Peace is important for the UAE (and the entire Arab world) not only because of religious purposes, but also due to diplomatic and economic purposes. The UAE opened the floodgates for more overseas investment decades ago… and, neighbouring Saudi Arabia, too, did the same… The region has realised that it is important to accept different cultures in order to maintain a steady economic growth. The most important precondition of economic prosperity is the acceptance of various beliefs. The presence of a large number of Hindu temples and churches in the UAE is the fine example of this acceptance, which allowed Pope Francis to attend the Holy Mass in Abu Dhabi. Virtually, activities of various terror outfits, such as the ISIS, have made this world a virtual Hell. That is why the Pope’s meeting with the Grand Imam of Al Azhar and the Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, Ahmad el Tayyeb, in the UAE was so significant!
However, some people have expressed concern over the meeting between the Pontiff and the Egyptian religious scholar, as they believe that the Vatican-Mecca connection could pose a serious threat to other religious communities in the coming years. One is left in the dark as to whether Vatican and Mecca have the future plan to jointly colonise the World.
The global community expects that good sense will prevail and both Vatican and Mecca would strive tirelessly to ensure Peace!
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