ABU DHABI: Pope Francis met with Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the imam of Al-Azhar, and Emirati leaders on Monday on the first full day of his historic visit to the United Arab Emirates.
In a trip laden with interfaith symbolism and messages of religious tolerance, the Pope toured the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi where he met the Muslim Council of Elders.
Pope Francis then traveled to the Founder’s Memorial – a tribute to the UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, where he was expected to give a speech
Earlier, the pontiff arrived at Abu Dhabi’s presidential palace, where he was welcomed with a lavish military parade. Officers fired 21 shots in the air, while jets flew overhead leaving white and yellow trails – the colours of the Vatican City flag.
Pope Francis met Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Sheikh Mohammed said on Monday that UAE rulers were “delighted” to meet the pontiff “in our homeland of tolerance.”