Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman laid the foundation stone of the Beouth Islamic City, which includes a dormitory for up to 30,000 students, at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo on Saturday.
The king, who was accompanied by a number of princes and ministers, was received by Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb and a number of officials. He performed the greeting prayer at the 1,000-year-old Al-Azhar Mosque and was briefed on the mosque’s restoration project.
In 2014, Saudi Arabia had given funds to Egypt for the restoration work at the mosque and university, and for establishing a dormitory for foreign students. Later in the same year, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi allocated land for the new city in New Cairo’s fifth settlement district.
Meanwhile, King Salman met Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II on Friday, becoming the first Saudi king to do so, and was hailed by the Coptic of Egypt as an “exceptional leader.”
Reverend Paul Halim, the official spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church, said the church thanks King Salman and the Kingdom for its continued support for Egypt.
He said the visit of King Salman to Egypt and his meetings with Muslim and Christian clerics, public figures, intellectuals and economists indicate a new stage of relations.
“The two countries seek to rewrite the rules of joint Arab action. This new direction will send a message to the whole world that we are one Arab fabric,” he said.
“The meeting of the king and Pope Tawadros II also sends a strong message to extremists and terrorists who have distorted the face of religion. It also reflects the importance of dialogue between religions and cultures for serving mankind.”
The king is scheduled to meet Egyptian Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal on Sunday and deliver a speech there.
King Salman will on Monday receive an honorary doctorate from Cairo University, making it the 80th such honor so far. “The Ph.D. is in recognition of the king’s stature as a global figure with great influence on the Arab and international stage,” Cairo University President Jaber Nassar was quoted as saying by a local newspaper.
“King Salman is known for his outstanding role in serving Arabs, Muslims and Islam and for his support to Egypt and its people, in addition to his prominent role in supporting Cairo University, including the historic project to develop the hospitals of Cairo University,” he said.
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