Head of the Catholic Church Pope Francis has described the UAE as a “country that is striving to be a model for co-existence, human fraternity, and meeting of faiths and civilizations” ahead of his visit to the Emirates February 3-5.
In a video message released by the Vatican, the Pope stressed that the UAE was a “country where so many people find a safe place to live and work with freedom that respects differences”.
He said he was “delighted to be meeting with a people who live out their present and look forward to the future”.
Quoting the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE, the Pope said: “True wealth lies not just in material possibilities. The real wealth of a nation is the individuals who hear the sound of their future.”
Pope Francis thanked Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces for inviting him to the UAE while also extending his gratitude to the UAE authorities for their “excellent cooperation, great hospitality and brotherly welcome”.
He went on to express his gratitude to “my brother and dear friend Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar” who will be taking part in a Human Fraternity dialogue with Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi.
“Faith brings us together even in the face of differences. It also keeps us away from hostility and indifference. I am happy on this occasion, granted to me by God, which will create a new chapter in the history of relations between faiths,” Pope Francis added.
No fewer than 135,000 attendees are expected to access the Mass on February 5, just as Father Michael O’Sullivan, the UAE Papal visit coordinator on behalf of the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia, said: “We have been working closely to ensure the most efficient way to help the tens of thousands of our parishioners who wish to participate in the Mass reach Abu Dhabi by buses.