The Vatican News reported that Pope Francis is scheduled to travel to the United Arab Emirates in February. Pope Francis will visit Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates from 3 to 5 February 2019 to attend an interfaith meeting on “Human Fraternity”.
Greg Burke, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, said on Thursday that the visit highlights Pope Francis’ commitment to building a culture of encounter.
The theme of the visit is “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”.
“That’s the Pope’s intention in going to the United Arab Emirates. How all people of goodwill can work for peace will be a major topic on this trip” said Burke.
He added that like the Pope’s 2017 apostolic journey to Egypt, this visit “shows the fundamental importance the Holy Father gives to inter-religious dialogue”.
Pope Francis visiting the Arab world, he concluded, “is a perfect example of the culture of encounter”.
A press release published by the Vatican Press Office specified that the Pope’s visit comes in response to the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and to the invitation of the Catholic Church in the United Arab Emirates.
According to Open Doors the United Arab Emirates is relatively tolerant towards Christian expatriate communities. They are free to worship in private but the government does not allow them to worship, preach or pray in public. Evangelising Muslims is strictly prohibited. Emirati law does not recognise conversion from Islam to Christianity, and the legal punishment is death. Converts from Islam face intense persecution and many dare not reveal their new faith. The Emirates ranks number 40 on Open Doors 2018 world watch list of the 50 countries where it is most dangerous to follow Jesus.