Pope Francis will visit Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in February, the Vatican said yesterday. The pontiff was invited by both Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and the local Catholic church. Francis will take part in an international “interfaith” meeting during the trip, which will run from February 3 to 5.
The Vatican said the theme for the Abu Dhabi trip was summed up in the phrase “make me a channel of your peace” -- a quote from Saint Francis of Assisi, the pope’s namesake. The hope was the visit would “spread in a special way the peace of God within the hearts of all people of good will,” it said.
“This visit, like the one to Egypt, shows the fundamental importance the Holy Father gives to inter-religious dialogue,” spokesman Greg Burke said. “Pope Francis visiting the Arab world is a perfect example of the culture of encounter,” he added. The UAE prides itself on its religious tolerance and cultural diversity, and most Gulf Arab states have long allowed Christians to worship in churches.
Nearly 80 percent of the population of the UAE is Muslim, while Christians constitute around nine percent, according to the Catholic News Agency