Pope happy about UAE visit

Pope Francis said he is looking to write a new page in the history of relations between religions with his visit to the United Arab Emirates from Sunday. In a video message to the Emirati people released today, he said, "I am happy ... to write on your dear land a new page in the relations between religions, confirming that we are brothers although different."

In the video message in Italian which was also also dubbed into Arabic, he thanked Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan for his invitation to participate in an interfaith meeting on human fraternity from February 3 to 5. The Pope said the visit would give him the opportunity to again see friend and dear brother Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of Egypt's top Sunni Muslim authority, whom he met on a visit in 2017.

Francis said he believes the interfaith meeting reflects the courage and willingness to affirm that faith in God unites rather than divides, brings together despite differences, and turns away from hostility and aversion. He added that the United Arab Emirates was a land that seeks to be a model of coexistence, human fraternity and the meeting of diverse civilisations and cultures, where many find a safe place to work and live freely in the respect for diversity.

"I look forward to meeting a people who live in the present with their eyes on the future," he added.