His Eminence Prof. Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Head of the Muslim Council of Elders (MCE) heads tomorrow to the Emirati Capital, Abu Dhabi, for a historic summit with Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church. The agenda of the joint visit of both the Grand Imam and the Pope includes attending a number of events within the UAE that declared 2019 to be “The Year of Tolerance”.
His Eminence the Grand Imam’s visit comes in response to the official invitation he received from HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE's Armed Forces, which was delivered to his Eminence by HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation during the latter’s visit to Al-Azhar Headquarter last December.
The Grand Imam-Pope visit to the UAE received unprecedented attention on the Arab and the international levels, as it is considered the first visit ever by a Pontiff to the Arab Peninsula. In addition, it clearly highlights the prominent status of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and the Grand Imam as the senior Islamic Authority in the entire Islamic World and the institution concerned, more than others, with highlighting and disseminating the tolerance and moderate course of Islam.
In light of this visit, an international conference under the title of “Meeting of Human Fraternity” will be held on February 3-4, and will be attended by a prominent group of the senior religious leaders and intellectuals from all over the world, which clearly shows the big role played by the UAE in sustaining the values of tolerance, dialogue and peace, especially in light of the fact that dozens of nationalities of different ethnicities and religions live in the UAE ruled by the values of citizenship and coexistence.
Last Thursday, HH Mohammed Bin Zayed has renewed his welcometo the Grand Imam and the Pope of the Vatican, saying: “We renew our welcome to the man of peace and love, Pope Francis, Pope of the Catholic Church, in the house of Zayed, and we are looking forward to the meeting that will gather him with his Eminence Prof. Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, hoping that peoples and generations will enjoy security and peace.”