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Published on : Saturday, May 13, 2017
The two-day visit of Pope Francis to Cairo on April 28-29 was very important for the Egyptian government. Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed told the local press that the pope’s visit at this time shows the world the real value of Egypt and would help renew tourism for the country.
On the first day of his visit, Francis met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb and Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Francis described Egypt as “Umm al-Dunya” (“Mother of the World”). He ended his speech saying “Blessed be Egypt my people,” quoting the Bible. The next day, Francis celebrated mass for Egypt’s Catholic community at the Air Defense Stadium in Cairo, and later met with the heads of Egypt’s tiny Catholic community at St. Leo’s Patriarchal Seminary in Cairo’s Maadi neighborhood.
The tourism sector in Egypt has declined significantly since 2010 due to political instability, according to a report issued by the World Tourism and Travel Council. “All Islamic and Christian religious institutions should invest in this visit to entrench the principles of equal citizenship, spread the culture of peace and work for the happiness of mankind,” said Egyptian Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa.
He added, “The ministry will work to build bridges of peace and spread a culture of tolerance with the whole world.”
Dina Tadros, a former adviser to the Ministry of Tourism for Coptic heritage said, “The pope of the Vatican improved the image of Egypt before the international community when he talked about our country in the speeches he delivered during his visit. The pontiff cited a verse of the Bible, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people.’ He even spoke in Arabic to say Egypt is ‘Umm al-Dunya’ and described Egypt as the ‘dawn of a civilization of peace and encounter.’”
Tadros said Egypt should benefit from Francis’ visit. Journalist Abdallah al-Sanawi said the pope’s visit is neither political nor economic, but will positively reflect on Egypt’s general political and economic climate.