Swami Brhamavihari,senior preist of Baps during the Global Conference on Human Fraternity at Emirae in Abu dhabi yesterday Photo Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: The upcoming Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi represents a unique diversity and fraternity, a senior Hindu priest said here on Sunday.

“A Muslim country gave the land for the temple. It is being designed by an Irish Catholic and the consultant is a communist atheist,” said Sadhu Brahma Viharidas, who is in charge of the Middle East at BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha that will build and manage the temple.

He was addressing the opening session of the Global Conference on Human Fraternity at Emirates Palace in the capital.

Viharidas said the UAE is a unique example for tolerance.

“A foreign journalist once asked me whether tolerance in the UAE was only cosmetic?”

He replied that: “Not at all. It is not skin deep, tolerance is the soul of the UAE,” the priest said to the unending applause from the audience.

“Tolerance and human fraternity is not just a beautiful word or meaningful idea or value here. In the UAE, they are verbs and not nouns. Verbs means they are in action. We can write poetry and hold conferences but unless they are in action ... they are meaningless,” the priest said.

He said followers of all religions have to focus on improving the human relations. “If we upgrade the world, but downgrade human relationships, everything is worthless.”

The priest shared his touching experiences of meeting His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who donated the land for the temple.

Many prominent leaders addressed the first day of the conference. Dr Yousuf Bin Ahmad Al Uthaymeen, Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation; Dr James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute; Dr Olav Fyke Tveit, Secretary-General of the World Council of Churches; Ali Al Ameen, member of the Muslim Council of Elders also spoke in the opening session.