SHAFAQNA – Pope Francis will make an historic visit to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in early February to attend an interfaith meeting, the Vatican announced on Thursday.
Pope is invited by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and the local Catholic church.
The Vatican announced the visit to the country on February 3-5.
“The visit would spread in a special way the peace of God within the hearts of all people of good will”, the Vatican said.
Pontiff to become first Catholic Church leader to visit the [Persian] Gulf region following Emirati crown prince’s invitation.
The theme of the trip is peace, with a logo featuring a dove carrying an olive branch, suggesting Francis will be making a strong appeal for Christian-Muslim dialogue and peace in the region, ALJAZEERA reported.
Gabriel Reynolds, professor of Islamic studies and theology at Notre Dame University, said the trip is a sign of Pope Francis’ “profound personal commitment to inter-religious dialogue”, catholicweekly told.
In the past, Pope Francis has already visited several Muslim countries, including Turkey in 2014, Azerbaijan in 2016 and Egypt in 2017,The National reported.
It is estimated there are about one million Christians in the UAE or roughly 10 percent of the country’s population. Most of them are guest workers from other countries. The majority of these Christians are Catholics, and there are seven Catholic churches in the country.
The UAE welcomed the visit
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai welcomed the visit with a tweet, , Gulf News reported.
“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.”
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said Pope Francis 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,” he said.