Updated: July 12, 2021 12:46 PM GMT
Pope Francis with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (left) during his 2019 visit to the United Arab Emirates. (Photo: YouTube)
A Vatican foundation has honored Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan with a prestigious award for his contributions to education and charity.
Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Education, conferred a “Man of Humanity” award during a ceremony in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on July 6.
Crown Prince Zayed Al Nahyan received the award for his contributions to educational and humanitarian initiatives by the pontifical foundation Gravissimum Educationis.
Sheikh Shakhbout bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE minister of state, received the award on behalf of the crown prince at the Emirates Palace.
Prince Sheikh Mohamed provided humanitarian support to 135 countries and sent supplies on 200 flights during the pandemic, local media reported.
Cardinal Versaldi appreciated the UAE leadership for its role in supporting the spread of peace around the world. The cardinal also an agreement with the UAE minister of education to improve educational standard in Catholic schools in the country.
Popularly known as MBZ, Prince Sheikh Mohammed played a vital role in organizing the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Ahmed Al Tayyeb
“This is an important step, even if limited to the field of education and to activities that are the responsibility of the ministries concerned,” said Cardinal Versaldi, Vatican News reported.
Sheikh Mohammed, 60, has been the de-facto ruler of the UAE since his brother, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, suffered a stroke in 2014.
Popularly known as MBZ, Prince Sheikh Mohammed played a vital role in organizing the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Ahmed Al Tayyeb, grand imam of Al Azhar, in 2019, when they signed the groundbreaking Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.
Human fraternity has sustained nations and has provided nations “with the energy, dedication and resolve to persevere and to succeed,” the cardinal said at the award ceremony attended by ambassadors of various countries in the UAE.
In June 2020, Pope Francis personally thanked the crown prince for providing medical and food aid to indigenous populations in the Peruvian Amazon during the Covid-19 pandemic. The humanitarian assistance was undertaken in association with Gravissimum Educationis Foundation.
Pope Francis set up the foundation on Oct. 28, 2015, with an aim to support integral education and fraternal coexistence globally. Its network covers 216,000 schools, 1,260 universities and 500 faculties and ecclesiastical institutes around the world.
Abu Dhabi, capital city of the UAE with a population of 1.42 million, has two Catholic churches.
Islam is the official religion of the UAE. About 12.6 percent of its 10.75 million population is Christian, according to the Pew Research Center.