Historical visit of Pope Francis to the UAE @Abu Dhabi, 3-5 Feb 2019
The visit coincides with the UAE’s celebration of the Year of Tolerance, which was declared by H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE in December 2018.
In a video message released by the Vatican on Thursday ahead of his visit, Pope Francis extended his warm greetings to the people of the UAE and described the emirates as a “country which strives to be a model for co-existence and human fraternity and meeting point of different civilisations and cultures”.
The Vatican said the pope had accepted an invitation from His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputry Supreme Commanader of the UAE Armed Forces and the Catholic community there.
Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed has tweeted welcoming the visit of the pope to the UAE.
“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,” he tweeted.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai welcomed the news with a tweet. “We welcome the news of Pope Francis’ visit to the United Arab Emirates – 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,” he tweeted.
More than one million Roman Catholics and other Christian expatriates living in the UAE are excited on the first visit of Pope Francis to the UAE.
Pope Francis will visit the UAE to attend an International Interfaith Meeting on ‘Human Fraternity’. The UAE is home to over 40 churches — substantially more centres of worship than all the other GCC countries combined.
Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive at the Abu Dhabi Presidential Airport on February 3, and will be greeted by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, along with key UAE dignitaries.
On February 4, there will be a welcome ceremony at the main entrance of the Presidential Palace, followed by an official visit to the Crown Prince at the Palace.
On the same day, the Pope will also visit the Grand Mosque and will attend a private meeting with members of the Muslim Council of Elders, after which the International Interfaith Meeting, the primary cause for the Pope’s visit to the UAE, will take place at the Founder’s Memorial.
At the International Interfaith meeting, Pope Francis will also be presented with a copy of Celebrating Tolerance written by the Reverend Andy Thompson, MBE. The book is the first of its kind to be published to coincide with the Year of Tolerance, and features a foreword from HE Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Tolerance. It will be presented to Pope Francis by Sheikh Nahayan.
On February 5, the Pope will pay a private visit to the Cathedral in Abu Dhabi followed by the Holy Mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium. A farewell ceremony will be held at the Abu Dhabi Presidential Airport, after which the Pope will depart back to Rome.
The Papal mass is the most awaited event from the three days of the Pope’s visit to the UAE, which is home to nearly a million Catholics all eager for a chance to catch a glimpse of the bishop of Rome.