On December 6, the Holy See announced that the pope will visit United Arab Emirates from February 3 to 5, 2019. “Pope Francis’ visit to the Arabian Peninsula is a key moment for dialogue between Muslims and Christians,” said Bishop Paul Hinder, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, which includes the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen.
Bishop Hinder added, “We welcome the pope with an open heart and pray with the words of St. Francis of Assisi: ‘Lord, make us an instrument of your peace.’ We hope that the Apostolic Visitation will be an important step on the path of dialogue between Muslims and Christians. May it also contribute to mutual understanding and peace in the Middle East.”
The visit responds to the invitation to participate in the inter-religious meeting on “Human Fraternity” of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates. Announcing the visit of Pope Francis, the prince declared in a tweet: “The pope is a symbol of peace, tolerance and the promotion of brotherhood. We look forward to our historic visit, through which we will seek dialogue and peaceful coexistence among people.”
This is the first time that a Pontiff has visited the Arabian Peninsula. The chosen theme of the Apostolic Vicariate of South Arabia is taken from the prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”