It will be the first time a Pope has ever visited the Arabian Peninsula and the highlight of his visit is a Papal Mass for 135,000 people in Abu Dhabi on 5 February.
When His Holiness arrives in Abu Dhabi it will also mark the start of a series of meetings with His Eminence The Grand Imam of Al Azhar Dr. Ahmed At-Tayyeb – one of the world’s most foremost Muslims.
It is part of the broader Human Fraternity Meeting that includes meetings with UAE Government leaders, the Muslim Council of Elders and coincides with the Global Conference on Human Fraternity for 700 international religious representatives.
In a video message translated into English and Arabic ahead of his arrival, Pope Francis said: “Beloved people of the United Arab Emirates. I am pleased to be visiting your country in a few days. A country which strives to be a model for coexistence and human fraternity, a meeting point of different civilisations and cultures. A place where people find a safe place to work, live freely and where differences are respected.”
He said in the UAE he would be meeting the people of a nation that “lives in the present yet looks towards the future.” He quoted the late Sheikh Zayed, founder of the UAE, in his belief that the true wealth of a nation resides in its people.
His Holiness added: “I would also like to thank my dear friend and brother His Eminence Dr. Ahmed At-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar and all who played a role in making this meeting possible. I also extend my sincere gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan who invited me to participate in interfaith dialogue under the theme of ‘Human Fraternity.’”