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Shaikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Tolerance (File Photo) Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: Pope Francis will become the first Catholic Pope in history to visit the Arabian Peninsula when he makes an apostolic journey to the UAE in February 2019, a journey eagerly awaited by hundreds of thousands of Catholics in this country.

According to Shaikh Nahayan Bin Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Tolerance, the Pope “will find a global society that treasures the theme of his visit —‘Make me a channel of your peace!’”

“We are proud to welcome him as a friend, as an advocate for global peace and dialogue and as a representative of a great world religion,” Shaikh Nahayan said.

“The visit of Pope Francis to the United Arab Emirates will reinforce the peace with which we have been blessed.”

A Roman Catholic bishop has been seated in the UAE since 1974. St Joseph’s Cathedral is the seat of the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, Bishop Paul Hinder. St Joseph’s was established nine years earlier, six years before Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan united the Emirates as a nation in 1971. Over one million Christians (about one-ninth of the current UAE population) live and work in our country. While many different Christian faiths worship in churches throughout the UAE, most of the Christian population is Roman Catholic.

Pope Francis will soon visit the UAE, and over 100,000 communicants are expected to attend his Holy Mass in Abu Dhabi on February 5, 2019.

“We, Muslims, recognise the importance of the impending visit by Pope Francis. He is signalling that tolerance, compassion, and dialogue enable understanding and peace. He is appreciating adventurous, good-willed Christians who are engaging Muslims and people of many other faiths. Pope Francis is admiring the beauty of a peaceful global community composed of people from some 200 countries. He is joining us all in praising our Creator for making each of us a unique individual and bridging our differences with universal values.”