Saudi Arabia taking lead in interfaith dialogue

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says he wants to return Saudi Arabia to a ‘moderate Islam’ that is more open and tolerant of other faiths. (SPA)
Updated 23 September 2018
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Saudi Arabia taking lead in interfaith dialogue

  • The crown prince stressed the importance of respect between followers of all religions and the need to promote the positive values of coexistence and tolerance

JEDDAH: In 2007, King Abdullah held a groundbreaking meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. A year later, he invited religious scholars, media representatives, academics and intellectuals from around the globe to take part in three-day interfaith talks in Makkah. During that meeting, the parameters of the discussions Muslims should be having with people of other faiths were outlined. Since then, Saudi Arabia’s efforts to bring peace to the world have not stopped, nor will they end till the globe is free of terrorism and extremism. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said in interviews that he wants to return Saudi Arabia to a “moderate Islam” that is more open to the world and tolerant of other faiths. In November 2017, King Salman held talks in Riyadh with Lebanon’s Maronite Christian Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi.
Both men stressed the importance of the role of all religions and cultures in promoting tolerance, renouncing violence, extremism and terrorism, and achieving security and peace for the peoples of the region and the world. Al-Rahi later also met the crown prince.
In April this year, the king received at his office at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh the chairman of the Pontifical Council for Interfaith Dialogue at the Vatican, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, and his accompanying delegation.
During the meeting, they again stressed the important role that followers of all religions and cultures have to play in renouncing violence, extremism and terrorism, and achieving global security and stability. In March, Crown Prince Mohammed met political and religious leaders on the second day of his landmark visit to the UK. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion of millions of Christians, received the crown prince at Lambeth Palace in central London, where the two men talked for an hour.
They also viewed a selection of early texts from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths, including fragments of a Qur’an manuscript found in a Birmingham University library in 2015, which are thought to be among the world’s oldest.
The crown prince extended an invitation to the archbishop to visit Saudi Arabia, according to senior sources at the Saudi Embassy in the UK and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They added that the meeting had been “very positive and very pleasant.” Three weeks later, the crown prince met several US religious leaders in New York.
During those meetings, the crown prince stressed the importance of respect between followers of all religions and the need to promote the positive values of coexistence and tolerance. A few days before his trip to the UK, the crown prince met Coptic Pope Tawadros II at Cairo’s largest cathedral, and invited Egyptian Christians to visit Saudi Arabia, saying that all Coptic Christians are welcome.
Meanwhile, the secretary-general of the Muslim World League, Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, and the Vatican’s Cardinal Tauran signed a cooperation agreement in April for achieving common objectives. Islamic researcher Sheikh Ahmed Al-Ghamdi said interfaith dialogue is a necessary human, religious and cultural endeavor that will help to curb terrorism and extremism. A former president of the Makkah branch of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice — sometimes referred to in the media as the “religious police” — he believes that such discussions should be widened to include more followers of other religions to ease hostilities and thwart terrorism, sectarianism and racism.
“We need to widen the circle of interfaith dialogue between societies in order to spread acquaintance, create rapprochement and correct the distorted image of Islam,” he said.
“Dialogue between followers of all the divinely revealed religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — can bring peace to the world. Moreover, talking with followers of Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism and other religions can also widen the space for peace.


Formula E’s Felipe Massa races ‘fastest animal on planet’ in Saudi Arabia

Updated 10 December 2018
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Formula E’s Felipe Massa races ‘fastest animal on planet’ in Saudi Arabia

  • ABB FIA Formula E Championship listens to fans by pitting Gen2 car and Felipe Massa in race against a peregrine falcon in Saudi Arabia
  • Spreading his wings for the first time in Formula E machinery, 90-kilometers south-west of the Ad Diriyah, Massa’s mirrors loomed large with the claws of the peregrine falcon

RIYADH: Formula E driver Felipe Massa behind the wheel of a Gen2 racing car has gone up against a peregrine falcon in a straight fight in Saudi Arabia to outrun the fastest animal on the planet.

It’s not the first time the fully-electric Formula E car has been pitted against a member of the animal kingdom, with reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne racing a cheetah on the Western Cape of South Africa last year.

Narrowly edging out the fastest land mammal in 2017, Formula E fans asked for a re-match — but this time together with more stern competition. Listening to the feedback of fans on social media, it was the turn of the peregrine falcon, capable of reaching speeds in excess of 350 km/h (217 mph) when diving through the skies above Saudi Arabia.

Massa was in the Kingdom ahead of the 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix, which will see the racing legend line-up on the Formula E starting grid for the first time on December 15 at the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site on the outskirts of Riyadh.

For the battle of man and machine vs the natural world, the winged predator was trained to set its sights on a different kind of prey roaming through the desert — with a lure attached to the roll hoop of the advanced new-look Gen2 car.

Spreading his wings for the first time in Formula E machinery, 90-kilometers south-west of the Ad Diriyah, Massa’s mirrors loomed large with the claws of the peregrine falcon. But did he manage to shake off his opponent?

To watch Felipe and the falcon in flying formation, visit — https://youtu.be/ERxeaV60_7g

Felipe Massa, VENTURI Formula E Team driver, said: “It was an incredible experience for me to race against the fastest member of the animal kingdom — it’s not something I will forget in a hurry. I like the fact that this idea came from the fans, and Formula E listened and accepted the challenge.

“The footage from the drive is very special and it was a privilege to take part. I’m looking forward to returning to Ad Diriyah and to start racing. It’ll be my first race in Formula E and I’m eager to get behind the wheel again. I’ve missed racing and this series has shown to be one of the most competitive out there.”

The 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix is the opening round of the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship and the competitive debut of the Gen2 car and VENTURI Formula E Team driver Felipe Massa.

As well as Formula E action, exciting fan zones, entertainment and cultural attractions, plus unique dining and retail experiences will be awaiting ticketholders at Ad Diriyah, across three days, starting December 13.

That evening, December 13, will see Enrique Iglesias and Jason Derulo kick off the first of three incredible nights of music concerts for fans. The following day, December 14, Arab music legend Amr Diab and globally-renowned pop band Black Eyed Peas will delight the audience. And, on December 15, race day, following the exhilarating 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E Prix, US smash hit OneRepublic and superstar DJ/producer David Guetta will bring the event to an electrifying finale.

Only fans holding tickets will be able to access the entire Ad Diriyah site, including all the action, fun, and thrilling complimentary concerts.

Tickets are on sale at http://fiaformulae.com/Ad-Diriyah and are also available at Point of Sale units at Riyadh Park Mall, Oud Square and Doos Carting (only Grandstand tickets from Doos) and Seven Car Lounge.