Pope Francis arrived in the United Arab Emirates for his historic visit, calling the rain in Abu Dhabi a “sign of blessing” for the interfaith meeting.
Last December, the Holy See announced that Pope Francis would make a three-day historic visit to the United Arab Emirates from the 3rd to the 5th of February. The visit comes after an invitation from the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to participate in an interfaith meeting about “Human Fraternity,” along with an invitation from the Catholic Church in the U.A.E.
Aboard the papal plane bound for Abu Dhabi on Sunday, the Holy Father called the rain in the dry country a “sign of blessing” for the upcoming meeting that he hopes goes well.
“This morning I received news that it was raining in Abu Dhabi, and there it is thought of as a sign of blessing. Let’s hope that everything goes like that.”
The Apostolic Visit marks the first time a supreme pontiff has ever set foot on the Arabian Peninsula – the theme of the historic visit: “make me a channel of your peace,” taken from the Saint Francis of Assisi Peace Prayer. The logo incorporates the flag of the UAE into a dove holding an olive branch, symbolizing the visit of the Pope to the country as a herald of peace.
When Pope Francis arrived, he was greeted by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan as he stepped onto Emirate soil. He then greeted the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayeb, a longtime friend and ally of the Holy Father in his quest to strengthen dialogue between East and West.
Monday, Pope Francis will visit one of the largest mosques in the country, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, to hold a private interfaith meeting with members of the Muslim Council of Elders. He will also preside over another interfaith meeting the Founder’s Memorial, a national tribute dedicated to the founding father of the U.A.E.
Pope Francis is set to celebrate the first ever papal Mass on the Arabian Peninsula in the Zayed Sports City Stadium on the last day of his trip. In attendance will be some of the U.A.E.’s one million plus Catholics living in the country, all expatriate workers.
You can learn more about Pope Francis’ visit to the United Arab Emirates on the official website here.