Abu Dhabi: The upcoming Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi represents a unique diversity and fraternity, a senior Hindu priest said here on Sunday.
“A Muslim country gave the land for the temple. It is being designed by an Irish Catholic and the consultant is a communist atheist,” said Sadhu Brahma Viharidas, who is in charge of the Middle East at BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha that will build and manage the temple.
He was addressing the opening session of the Global Conference on Human Fraternity at Emirates Palace in the capital.
Viharidas said the UAE is a unique example for tolerance.
“A foreign journalist once asked me whether tolerance in the UAE was only cosmetic?”
He replied that: “Not at all. It is not skin deep, tolerance is the soul of the UAE,” the priest said to the unending applause from the audience.
“Tolerance and human fraternity is not just a beautiful word or meaningful idea or value here. In the UAE, they are verbs and not nouns. Verbs means they are in action. We can write poetry and hold conferences but unless they are in action ... they are meaningless,” the priest said.
He said followers of all religions have to focus on improving the human relations. “If we upgrade the world, but downgrade human relationships, everything is worthless.”
The priest shared his touching experiences of meeting His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who donated the land for the temple.
Many prominent leaders addressed the first day of the conference. Dr Yousuf Bin Ahmad Al Uthaymeen, Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation; Dr James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute; Dr Olav Fyke Tveit, Secretary-General of the World Council of Churches; Ali Al Ameen, member of the Muslim Council of Elders also spoke in the opening session.
ABU DHABI, 4th February, 2019 (WAM) -- A UAE newspaper has said that this is one of those days that truly can be described as "historic", for never before has a leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics set foot on the Arabian peninsula, and Pope Francis is making history with his visit to the UAE, culminating when he celebrates mass in front of an expected 120,000 people in Abu Dhabi.
"The symbolism of the occasion and the combined with the significance of this ecumenical gesture, cannot be overstated and is an unprecedented endorsement of this nation’s commitment to tolerance, harmony and diversity," said Gulf News in editorial on Monday.
The paper added, "The UAE is a nation that is home to residents from some 200 countries, people that cherish the values and opportunities afforded here, living together in harmony and celebrating cultural diversity of our cultural differences. This cultural mosaic is held together by the value of tolerance, fostering understanding. While 2019 has been designated as the Year of Tolerance by the nation’s leaders, the visit of Pope Francis coincides with an interfaith conference, bringing together spiritual leaders to foster understanding and build interfaith dialogue and ecumenicalism."
"Together with Dr. Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif, they will lay foundation stones for a new mosque and a new church, literally providing the foundation stones for growth, new structures and a new understanding of the unique relationship between faiths that cherish respect, peace and improving the lives of those in need regardless of creed, colour or circumstance.
"The UAE is home to around one million Roman Catholics, and Pope Francis’ visit is significant moment for this large segment of our society. But the visit by the pontiff also comes at a time when this wider region is afflicted by extremists who seek to widen hatred and divisions."
It’s a point highlighted by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, welcoming Pope Francis, the paper explained. "The UAE receives Pope Francis at a time when we are in dire need of meeting on common human values, extending bridges of brotherhood and friendship, highlighting the points of similarity, uprooting factors of separation, defusing and fighting strife, hatred and religious and ethnic discrimination," Sheikh Mohammed wrote, while thanking His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for inviting His Holiness to participate in the Global Religions Dialogue Forum on Human Brotherhood.
"This visit should serve as a reminder to all of the ties that bind us in humanity, showing that we all share the same values of tolerance, peace and coexistence," concluded the Dubai-based daily.