x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Al Salaam mosque an edifice of hope

Rotterdam's mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, presented a far more powerful vision of civilisation than the Netherlands' far-right parties' condemnation in welcoming the new mosque built by Al Maktoum Foundation.

Rotterdam's new mosque was opened last week, after 10 years of wrangling over its construction. Built by the Al Maktoum Foundation at the expense of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, the UAE Minister of Finance, it now stands as a symbol of peace and is appropriately named Al Salaam.

Those committed to a more nuanced understanding of the world will appreciate the sincere measure for what it is: a gesture of good faith between nations.

Of course, some might disagree. The notorious far-right Dutch ideologue Geert Wilders has already lashed out at the mosque, saying it was a "horrible thing" that belonged in Saudi Arabia. Apparently, Mr Wilders does not know the difference between the UAE and its neighbours, despite more than 40 visits to Israel; certainly, he does not know what a mosque really is.

Such shrill voices shouldn't distract us from the larger picture of a new world built on cooperation and understanding. The Netherlands has too often been a flashpoint for intolerance, with Mr Wilders often at the forefront.

But Rotterdam's mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, showed us a better example: "We are proud of this civilisational landmark which all we worked together to accomplish," he said. Surely, Mr Aboutaleb and his friends have a far more powerful vision of civilisation.