Next week’s historic visit to the UAE by Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, "directly reflects the tolerance practiced for centuries by the people of Abu Dhabi and the rest of the United Arab Emirates," according to a leading local Indian businessman.
Mohan Jashanmal, who first arrived here with his wife in 1964, told the Emirates News Agency, WAM, that he recalled that at the consecration in 1965 of St. Joseph’s church in Abu Dhabi, the first Catholic church in the Emirates, the ruler of the time, Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan, sat in the front row of the congregation.
"From the time of the pearl industry, which goes back hundreds of years, Muslims and Hindus and other communities lived here together.
"All practiced and followed their own religious paths with harmony and understanding. The UAE practiced tolerance in the past. It practices it today, and I am sure it will continue into the future," he said.
"I remember," he added," that the late Sheikh Zayed told me," Jashanmal, you can be a Hindu, a Christian, a Muslim or a follower of any other faith. We believe in this country that the path laid down for all these religions is that of behaving well towards others."