ABU DHABI, The visit to Abu Dhabi beginning tomorrow of Pope Francis and Grand Imam Dr. Ahmad El-Tayeb, Sheikh of Al Azhar, draws attention to the leading position of the UAE in terms of interfaith and multi-culture dialogue and acceptance of 'the other', according to Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development � Abu Dhabi.
"On this historic occasion, I would like to welcome His Holiness the Pope and Sheikh of Al-Azhar to the United Arab Emirates," Dr. AlKhaili said. "This visit is of great importance as it promotes the ties of cooperation for which the UAE has long been famous across various sectors. It further affirms the moderate approach of the UAE based on the teachings of Islam and fosters the dissemination of goodness, friendship and peace to the world."
"The Year of Tolerance is an occasion to celebrate the values of tolerance that run in our blood and to pass all the principles that make our country a beacon of love among all segments of its society. Members of different faiths are given the opportunity to practice their rituals freely," he added.
The Papal Mass to be celebrated by Pope Francis at Zayed Sports City, is expected to be attended by over 135,000 Christian worshippers from both inside and outside the country, Dr. Al Khaili said.
"The name of the UAE's Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, is associated with tolerance and peace," he added. "He was the most remarkable ambassador for peace and a wise leader who was aware of the importance of sowing the seeds of peace throughout the globe and the importance of peace and tolerance in promoting and developing societies."
He went on to say that the participation of Pope Francis in the Global Conference on Human Fraternity at the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, can be seen as a recognition of the fact that the UAE is "a beacon of peace and a hub of love, brotherhood and living under one umbrella towards the service of the country, irrespective of religion, culture or nationality. "
The conference, he said, "promotes the dissemination of the values of tolerance, moderation and dialogue among all and focuses on the role of people in the development of the community."
Dr. Al Khaili expressed pride in the fact that the Department of Community Development - Abu Dhabi is the local government department responsible for the organisation of places of worship in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Source: Emirates News Agency