Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, has extended his warm greetings to the leadership and people of the United Arab Emirates ahead of his visit to the country on February 3rd-5th, 2019. He described the UAE as a "country that is striving to be a model for co-existence, human fraternity, and meeting of faiths and civilisations."
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 His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for inviting him to "take part in a dialogue of religions titled ‘Human Fraternity’." He also extended 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."
Dr. Al Tayeb is also taking part in the ‘Human Fraternity’ dialogue.
Pope Francis thanked them all for "their courage and determination in stressing that faith in God unites us all and never divides."
"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.
He concluded by saying that he looked forward to "meeting with the Zayed family at the Zayed home, home of prosperity and peace, of co-existence and collaboration."