Pope Francis to visit UAE in February
DELIGHTED TO WELCOME SYMBOL OF PEACE AND TOLERANCE — MOHAMMAD BIN ZAYED
We welcome the news of Pope Francis’ visit to the United Arab Emirates next February — a visit that will strengthen our ties and understanding of each other...’’
Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid |
Pope Francis will visit the UAE in February to attend the International Interfaith Meeting on ‘Human Fraternity’, it has been announced in Abu Dhabi and the Vatican yesterday.
The historic visit — the first to a GCC country — is at the invitation of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and will take place from February 3 to 5.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, welcomed the visit in a tweet: “We welcome the news of Pope Francis’ visit to the United Arab Emirates next February — a visit that will strengthen our ties and understanding of each other, enhance interfaith dialogue and help us to work together to maintain and build peace among the nations of the world.”
In a tweet, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed said: “The UAE is delighted to welcome His Holiness Pope Francis on the upcoming visit to the UAE. He is a symbol of peace, tolerance and the promotion of brotherhood. We look forward to a historic visit through which we will seek dialogue on the peaceful coexistence among peoples.”
More than a million Roman Catholics and other Christian expats living in the UAE are excited about Pope Francis’ first visit to the UAE in February.
The historic visit — the first to a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country — is at the invitation of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and will take place from February 3 to 5.
Pope Francis will be in the UAE to attend an International Interfaith Meeting on Human Fraternity, it was announced in Abu Dhabi and the Vatican yesterday.
The UAE established diplomatic ties with the Vatican in 2007 and is home to over 40 churches — substantially more centres of worship than all the other GCC countries combined.
Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, tweeted: “We have the honour to welcome His Holiness Pope Francis, Pope of Peace, Love, and Knight of the Human Brotherhood on the land of love and tolerance of the UAE.”
It is estimated that there are over one million Roman Catholics and other Christians in the UAE, most of them guest workers from other countries. The majority of these Christians are Catholics, and there are seven Catholic churches in the country.
The Pope’s visit, Shaikh Abdullah said, is in accordance with the UAE’s policy and efforts, under the leadership of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to establish and support strong foundations of brotherhood and peaceful coexistence, both regionally and globally. “Pope Francis’ acceptance of the UAE invitation strengthens these efforts and will further promote interfaith dialogue,” he added.
Reverend Canon Andrew Thompson of St Andrew’s Anglican church in Abu Dhabi told Gulf News the Pope’s visit will be a historical event.
“It is both a tribute to the ruling family, and their longstanding commitment to fostering a society of coexistence and acceptance — and to the flourishing and faithful Roman Catholic community who have been part of the UAE’s story,” he said.
Greg Burke, Director of the press office of the Holy See, said, “The theme of the visit is ‘Make Me a Channel of Your Peace’ — and that’s the Pope’s intention in going to the United Arab Emirates.”
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