Pope Francis extended his warm greetings to the people of the UAE in a video message released by the Vatican on Thursday, ahead of his visit to Abu Dhabi next week.
He began the video, posted in Italian, with the Islamic greeting “salam alaikum” (peace be upon you all) before saying he was pleased to be visiting the UAE, a “country which strives to be a model for co-existence and human fraternity and a meeting point of different civilisations and cultures”.
He also thanked Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, for inviting him to “take part in a dialogue of religions”.
On Thursday, Sheikh Mohamed responded by welcoming the Pope to the country, saying that he is looking forward to the “historic” interfaith meeting.
“We are hopeful that generations to come will prosper in peace and security,” Sheikh Mohamed said on Twitter.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Tolerance, said it would be “an honour to welcome the Pope to the UAE” and that he would be visiting a country that had learned the value of tolerance.
He said the Vatican and the UAE each “embrace diversity and recognize the special talents of various population elements of the global society.”