- Catholic News Service
- Feb 8, 2019
As Pope Francis embarks on the first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula, few may realize that the predominantly Muslim region carries an ancient Christian heritage.
Pope Francis is heading to the UAE this Sunday, and people are wondering what it could mean for the region and interreligious dialogue as well as the war in Yemen.
Pope Francis will have St. Francis of Assisi on his mind when he visits Abu Dhabi Feb. 3-5 and Morocco in late March.
“Al Salamu Alaikum,” Arabic for “peace be with you,” Pope Francis said at the beginning of a video message to the people of the United Arab Emirates, which he will visit Feb. 3-5.
Pope Francis’s visit to the UAE from Feb. 3 through Feb. 5 marks the first papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam. The pontiff will visit Abu Dhabi, the headquarters of the Catholic Church’s Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia, which covers the UAE, Oman and Yemen.
As the United Arab Emirates prepares to host Pope Francis in February, the country’s minister of tolerance said the first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula will contribute to building bridges at a time of growing nationalism and insularism around the world.