UAE embassy in US hosts interfaith iftar online

Representatives of four religions brought together in virtual celebration of diversity

Participants stressed the importance of coming together amid the coronavirus pandemic. Picture courtesy UAE Embassy Washington DC
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The UAE embassy in Washington substituted its annual iftar this year with an online interfaith gathering on Wednesday, celebrating religious diversity in the US and attended by Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Sikh representatives.

UAE Minister and ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba reflected on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the peculiarity of this Ramadan and the need to bring people together.

“What corona can teach us is the importance of coming and working together,” Mr Al Otaiba said in his opening address.

The UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Noura Al Kaabi, gave a message of tolerance and inclusion, as the country inaugurated a synagogue and a Latter-Day Saints house of worship.

The UAE has also led the reconstruction of the Great Mosque of Al Nuri, which was destroyed by ISIS in Mosul, Iraq.

The event featured a live broadcast of the call to taraweeh prayers from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

The UAE’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Lana Nusseibeh, then told of the UAE’s engagement in the global fight against the pandemic, stressing the international co-operation needed in the struggle.

The UN’s High Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations, Miguel Angel Moratinos, described a harmonious integration of religions in the UAE.

“It is heartening to see religious leaders from across the faith spectrum joining today," Mr Moratinos said.

"I am very pleased that the UAE is building the Abrahamic Family House as an embodiment of interfaith harmony."

The Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi will include a mosque, church and synagogue.

Also taking part in the event were Reverends Navina and Andy Thompson, of St Andrew's Anglican Church in Abu Dhabi; Rabbi Bruce Lustig, of Washington; Surender Singh Kandhari, head of the Sikh gurudwara in Dubai; and the director general of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre, Yousef Al Obaidli.

The President of the Congress of Christian Leaders, Johnnie Moore, said the UAE was the “Switzerland of religions”.

Other guests paid tribute to the Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed, for instituting strong values of tolerance.

The event was planned for the eve of a special day of prayer on Thursday.

The day was announced by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity with the support of Pope Francis, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El Tayeb, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.