The visit by Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, to the country is a demonstration of the deep cultural relations between the UAE and the United Kingdom. As The National reported yesterday, the Prince of Wales, heir to the British throne, and the Duchess of Cornwall visited Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on Sunday at the start of their three-day tour of the country.
The visit highlighted the UK’s appreciation of the UAE’s mission to promote religious tolerance. The UAE sets a positive example for the region with its efforts to enhance dialogue and understanding between faiths. This was underlined when the mosque hosted a talk between Prince Charles and Bishop Paul Hinder of St Joseph’s Cathedral, one of two Roman Catholic churches in Abu Dhabi.
This also marks the beginning of the UK-UAE 2017 Year of Cultural Collaboration, which aims to strengthen cultural links between the two countries in several areas including arts, education, sports and science. A highlight of that collaboration is the presentation to the UAE of a digital copy of the 1,370- year old Quran belonging to the University of Birmingham.
These events mirror expanding cultural exchanges in recent years. During his visit in May, Graham Sheffield, the British Council’s global director of arts, announced plans to set up long-term programmes in the UAE focusing on artwork in public and outdoor spaces in an attempt to use arts as a means to build bridges of understanding between the two cultures. There have also been some pioneering cultural exchange events in London focusing on films and the creative industries in the emirates.
This collaboration makes sense considering the established links between the two countries. The UAE hosts more than 100,000 British nationals, according to Jeffrey Mountevans, Lord Mayor of the City of London, who visited this year and praised the economic ties that the two countries enjoy, with the UAE being the UK's 12th largest trading partner.