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The Pope’s Visit To The Land Of Peace

Al-Etihad, UAE, February 3

There is no better country in the Arab world to host a papal visit than the United Arab Emirates. The arrival of Pope Francis to Abu Dhabi last week marked the first visit of a pontiff to a Gulf state—and it came at a good time. During his tenure as Archbishop, Pope Francis has proven in his statements, messages and speeches that he is a man of peace, dialogue, interfaith, and friendship to Muslims around the world. Similarly, the UAE, led by Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan al-Nahyan, declared 2019 as the year of tolerance and invested great efforts to empowering minority religions throughout the country. Dozens of communities across all religions have been supported by the state institutions and invited to participate in governing bodies such as the Council of Elders and the Forum for the Promotion of Peace. The UAE has also led the way in combatting poverty, disease, and environmental corruption, while spreading the message of moderate and enlightened Islam. The Pope is slated to meet with religious leaders in the UAE and the Muslim world, including representatives from Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan and key religious leaders who are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu. All of them have one message: peace, dialogue, coexistence and global citizenship. The message of tolerance that the UAE has been promoting for years is finally becoming a global message. In the last two decades Muslims and Islam have faced many challenges. The most extreme was the epidemic of fundamentalism and terrorism, which caused major imbalances within societies and nations, spreading terror throughout the world and generating a negative image of Islam. Our nations responded to this with great force and effectiveness. Scholars and intellectuals have gone out to combat the distortion of religious concepts and rebuilt themselves to counter this wave. The UAE was at the forefront of these efforts, succeeding not only in combating, but also in preventing, these kinds of ideas. The generous policies of welfare, youth care, civic engagement, and education have all led to positive changes on the ground. Pope Francis comes to the UAE as a friend and ally who is familiar with the state’s policies of tolerance and coexistence. This is why we said that the UAE is the worthiest of hosting the Pope. It stands out thanks to its message of peace and dialogue and call to overcome the obstacles of the present while working for a better future. The Pope is welcomed in peace to the land of peace. –Radwan al-Sayed