Britain's Queen Elizabeth II walks through the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi as part of a five-day state visit to the Gulf. Image Credit: AP

Abu Dhabi: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, arrived on Wednesday in the UAE.

General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan accompanied the monarch at the start of her second state visit to the UAE.

Shaikh Mohammad met the royal party earlier at the airport, welcoming them and affirming that this visit inaugurates a new stage in the bilateral and cooperative relations shared between both friendly countries.

The visit comes in response to an invitation extended by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

This is Queen Elizabeth's second visit to the UAE since 1979.

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Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, Reem Al Hashimi, Minister of State, Dominique Jeremy, British Ambassador to the UAE, and other members of the British Embassy, and other senior officials were also present.

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Shaikh Mohammad welcomed Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to the UAE, and affirmed that this visit inaugurates a new stage in the bilateral and cooperative relations shared between both friendly countries and peoples.

Later, Shaikh Mohammad accompanied Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to Shaikh Zayed Grand mosque and the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan's tomb.

The Queen’s accompanying delegation includes the Duke of York, and Foreign Secretary William Hague, and other senior British officials.

Queen fascinated by mosque mosaic

As Queen Elizabeth II walked briskly across the central square of Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque under a bright moon, she pointed down at the floor, fascinated by the intricate floral mosaics laid down.

An almost inaudible "wow" rose up from the crowd of media gathered next to the red carpet, on the clear, serene evening, as they caught the first glimpse of the petite Queen.

The Duke of Edinburgh and the Duke of York also visited the Shaikh Zayed Mosque last night and the royal party entered the mosque to pay respects to the late father of the nation Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Minutes before the Queen arrived, William Hague, foreign minister, was shown around the mosque.

The monarch wore a hat with gold head scarf tied under the chin, along with a long gold coat and trademark white gloves.

Queen Elizabeth was shown to a screened area where she respectfully removed her shoes before entering the mosque.

Shaikh Mohammad spent several minutes pointing out the architecture of the mosque to the Duke of York before they entered to pay their respects.

Inside the mosque, the Queen met three madrassa groups and listened to children reciting the Quran.  

The Queen is the Head of the Church of England: the visit is reflective of the multi-faith dialogue and tolerance that is common to both the UAE and UK, according to a statement released by the British Embassy. A total of 1.6 million Muslims reside in the UK.

With input from WAM