ABU DHABI // Queen Elizabeth II began her visit of the UAE yesterday - her first state visit to the Emirates in 31 years - with a tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Joined by her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and second son, the Duke of York, she was greeted at Abu Dhabi's Presidential Airport by General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Sheikh Mohammed shook hands with the Queen and Prince Philip, welcoming them to the UAE and spoke of the friendship between the two countries, the official WAM news agency said.
Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed also accompanied the royal party to the Grand Mosque, where the Queen donned a gold headscarf and toured the iconic building, before paying her respects at the tomb of Sheikh Zayed, the founder and late President of the UAE.
The Queen, who last visited in 1979 when she was greeted by Sheikh Zayed, prayed for the late leader's soul, recalling his "his deeds, wisdom and hallmark personality," said WAM.
The Queen toured the mosque's courtyards, pillars, roofs and domes, intricately carved from white marble, and listened to a description of the building's design.
As the head of the Church of England, she is considered the first leader of another religion to officially visit the Mosque.