Pope Francis will be the first pontiff to visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE) when he makes an apostolic journey there from February 3-5, 2019.
According to a December 6, 2018, Vatican statement, the visit comes in response to the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the Catholic Church in the United Arab Emirates. The Holy Father will participate in the International Interfaith Meeting on “Human Fraternity”.
Pope Francis received the Crown Prince at the Vatican on September 15, 2016. The office of Prince Mohamed bin Zayed said, in tweets published after the audience, that the UAE “values Pope Francis’s efforts to confront violence and extremism,” and said he and the Pope discussed “enhancing bilateral ties, and issues of common interest.”
The theme of the February visit is “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace” – and that’s the Pope’s intention in going to the United Arab Emirates, according to Greg Burke, director of the Vatican Press Office.
“How all people of goodwill can work for peace will be a major topic on this trip,” Burke said. “This visit, like the one to Egypt, shows the fundamental importance the Holy Father gives to inter-religious dialogue. Pope Francis visiting the Arab world is a perfect example of the culture of encounter.”
Although the UAE is a majority-Muslim country, about 10 percent of the population is Catholic, many of those faithful being foreign worker from Catholic nations such as the Philippines.