An official announcement issued by the Vatican Press Office confirms that Pope Francis will visit to the United Arab Emirates from 3 to 5 February, 2019. He will be the first Pontiff to visit the UAE.
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”.
The Pope received the Crown Prince at the Vatican on September 15, 2016. The office of Prince Mohamed bin Zayed said, in tweets published after that audience, that the UAE “values Pope Francis’s efforts to confront violence and extremism,” and said the Prince 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 the Director of the Vatican Press Office. Greg Burke.
“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 workers from Catholic nations such as the Philippines.
The logo of the visit is a dove bearing an olive branch. The colours of the dove, white outlined in yellow, are taken from the colours of the Vatican Flag. The colours of the flag of the United Arab Emirates are incorporated into the body of the dove, symbolising the visit of the Pope to the country as a herald of peace.