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My Visit With the Pope: The Weeknd Manager SAL Talks Vatican Visit (Photos)

Pope Francis greets Wassim "SAL" Slaiby, his wife Rima and their daughter Rima during a visit to the Vatican.
Courtesy of SAL&CO

Pope Francis greets Wassim "SAL" Slaiby, his wife Rima and their daughter Rima during a visit to the Vatican.

If you ever text with Wassim "SAL" Slaiby, manager of The Weeknd, French Montana, Belly, Massari, and others, he often ends his message with the "praying hands" emoji.  

The man is grateful he fled the Lebanese civil war when he was 15 for a better life in Canada. In his early 20s, he and rapper Belly started CP Records and received validation from the Canadian music industry with a win at the 2008 Juno Awards for rap recording. In 2012, he began co-managing The Weeknd under his company SAL&CO, which officially became part of the Maverick consortium last May.

That same month: Slaiby married his long-time girlfriend, former Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih, in their homeland of Lebanon. They now reside in Los Angeles. Among their wedding gifts -- one from Pope Francis.  More blessings lay ahead for 2017: their daughter Rima Wassim Slaiby was born in January.

As The Weeknd continues his sold-out world tour, French Montana releases his new album, Jungle Rules, July 14, and Belly prepares to drop new music, Slaiby recently landed a face-to-face meeting with the Pope himself at the Vatican.

Billboard wanted to know what it was like to meet the pontiff and if they chatted about music.

How does one get to meet the Pope? 

I was fortunate enough to receive an invite. The head of the Vatican had heard about my wife and I, and the great difference our love was making in the world. Without recognition, we always offer help to our church and any child in need.

What are the protocols you needed to know before meeting him? 

The only protocol explained by our Priest was to make sure we dress in black. However our newborn was one of only eight females to meet the Pope in white. 

Are you religious?

I never refer to myself as religious, but a Christian Maronite with great respect for my religion and beliefs. 

Did you talk to him about music, managing acts, or The Weeknd? 

No, I was only there to kiss the hand of our beloved Pope and to receive his blessings for my family and I. 

What was the wedding gift? 

The wedding gift we received from the Pope was a small note blessed with divine graces in a large frame. The gift was dropped off by our priest Elias from our church in Beverly Hills. 

Describe the general experience. How long was the meeting and what was the Vatican like?

We were in the Vatican for about an hour. Our Pope began with a prayer. He continued to speak about giving back to our churches. He explained the importance of our younger generation and their involvement in the church.

The Vatican was remarkable, historic, and a true spiritual home. The best part was watching our daughter receive a kiss on her forehead from the Pope. I could never wish for a bigger blessing than the one we received. My family and I hope to return very soon. 

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