UAE’s gift to Pope Francis sells as NFT to raise funds for Afghanistan

  • MORROW Collective
  • NFT
  • 2 February

Woven by Afghan women from FBMI’s enterprise Zuleya, The Pontifex Carpet was originally gifted by HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, to Pope Francis on a visit to the Vatican in September 2016 where the two leaders met to discuss strengthening existing diplomatic links and promoting inter-religious harmony.

The historic Pontifex carpet, which was immortalized as an NFT (non-fungible token), sold for 25 Ether or about $81,886 late on Friday afternoon 15th of January 2022 to raise funds for Afghanistan.

The gifted carpet was from Zuleya’s Tolerance range designed to replace the infamous Afghan war rugs and is a lasting symbol of peace and harmony.

The original physical version of the Pontifex Carpet remains in Pope Francis’ possession, but in order to immortalise the artwork, Zuleya have created an NFT from the original design that will raise funds for women and families in Afghanistan.

The 272cm x 183cm physical version of the carpet remains with Pope Francis But Zuleya – Fatima Bint Mohammed Bin Zayed Initiative’s (FMBI) retail arm – created a 187 cm x 125cm replica to be gifted to whoever buys it as an NFT.

“This is perhaps the most iconic NFT to be sold in the Middle East,” said Musfir Khawaja, co-founder of nftOne, the DIFC-headquartered regional marketplace where the NFT was listed. “The buyer will get the physical replica of the carpet besides an ornate gold frame on a 165cm digital canvas with the NFT loaded on it.”