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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 February 2019

Cultures come together in spirit of peace ahead of papal visit

"Peace Gathering" in Abu Dhabi's Umm Al Emarat Park celebrated the UAE's multicultural society

The UAE's rich diversity was celebrated as cultures connected and faiths came together to deliver a global message of peace on the eve of the Pope's historic first tour of the country.

The Peace Gathering, held at Umm Al Emarat Park in Abu Dhabi on Friday, attracted visitors of all ages and a wide variety of beliefs and backgrounds to mark the papal visit.

Bishop Paul Hinder, Catholic Bishop to Southern Arabia, was among the guests, further signifying the strong presence of the Christian faith in the UAE.

Crowds were treated to a wealth of community events, live musical performances and film screenings as the countdown continues to Pope Francis's arrival in the UAE on Sunday.

The event opened with a welcome message by Sheikh Nayhan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Tolerance, who told visitors of the importance of the Pope's three-day visit.

"This is an important cultural event that highlights the values of tolerance, co-operation and human progress that have been an important part of the UAE’s development since its inception," said Sheikh Nayhan.

"The UAE is a country which is firmly rooted in its Arabic and Islamic beliefs and heritage.

"From this sound foundation, we are able to confidently and peacefully interact with those from other cultures and religions. This event is a continuation of our desire to better understand others, and to share our own culture with the world."

An inclusive spirit was on show throughout the festivities, as vocalists serenaded crowds with the help of sign language for the hearing-impaired.

Emirati Malid, a form of traditional Emirati chanting, was showcased by Fatimah Al Hashimi, while Abdullah Al Nuaimi performed a song accompanied by oud, piano and saxophone players and a gospel choir also took centre stage.

People held candles aloft in a show of solidarity as a final musical rendition brought the live performances to a stirring conclusion.

There was also a screening of the 2018 documentary, A Man of his Word, chronicling the life journey of Pope Francis.

Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, said the UAE as eager to uphold its values of tolerance and inclusivity for 'generations to come".

“The UAE offers a unique model of peaceful co-existence between its diverse community of residents that has warranted recognition and respect from the region and beyond. The UAE was founded on the values of justice, tolerance and acceptance of others, and we are keen to uphold these values for future generations," she said.

Updated: February 2, 2019 09:54 PM

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