Pope Tawadros II received on Monday 5 February Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman at the papal headquarters in Abbassiya, Cairo. Bin Salman started by stressing that Copts are dear to Muslims not only in Saudi Arabia but the world over. He applauded Pope Tawadros and Egypt’s Copts for their sense of patriotism and their self-restraint in face of the terror the Church was victim of in recent years. He extolled the Copts’ time-honoured peaceful nature and good cheer.
Pastoral visits to Saudi Arabia
The Pope, for his part, warmly welcomed the heir to the Saudi throne, saying that his visit brought joy to all Egyptians, and stressing that good relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia benefit the safety of the entire region. “We have been closely following the recent developments in Saudi Arabia,” he said, “and look at them with admiration.”
Pope Tawadros said the Coptic Church, whose history goes back to the first AD century, was a thoroughly Egyptian institution that had never fallen into foreign hands despite the fact that Egypt herself had come under centuries of foreign occupation.
He applauded the cordial relations between Saudi Arabia and the Coptic Church which, he said, go back several year. He reminded of King Salman’s visit to Egypt last year, during which he met the Pope at the Saudi Embassy in Cairo.
The Pope also remarked that, since 2012, the Coptic Bishop of Shubral-Kheima, Anba Marcos, paid three pastoral visits to Saudi Arabia to care for the Coptic congregation there, and was cordially received by Saudi authorities. Upon which Prince Mohamed Bin Salman extended an invitation to Anba Marcos to again visit Saudi Arabia, and said the invitation included all those present in the meeting.
The visit concluded with Pope Tawadros telling the Prince: “We welcome you; we are happy you’re here; and we say that this day marks a new page in our history,”
Deals, and visit to Cairo Opera House
Prince Bin Salman also met the Grand Imam of Azhar, Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayyeb and, together with President Sisi, opened al-Azhar Mosque which had undergone renovation. Al-Azhar institution is the world’s topmost authority on Sunni Islam.
Prince Bin Salman had arrived to Cairo on Sunday 4 March on a three-day visit to Egypt, the first he pays to the country since he became Crown Prince last June. President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi received him, and their talks focused on coordinating positions on regional conflicts. They also signed a number of deals including huge investment projects and the launch of a Saudi-Egyptian investment fund.
The Saudi Crown Prince visited the National Youth Academy in 6th October City, and the Suez Canal projects in Ismailiya. Together with President Sisi, he attended the theatrical performance Turn Yourself In at the Cairo Opera House.
In early 2018, Saudi Arabia said construction would soon begin on the kingdom’s first opera house. Until recently, musical concerts were banned in the country since two decades, along with music in restaurants and stores.
Egypt’s first opera house was built in 1869 but was destroyed by fire in 1971. In 1988, the present Cairo Opera House was built by the Japanese as an integral cultural centre.
6 March 2018