Sun 03-02-2019 19:09 PM
by Nour Salman
ON BOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT, 3rd February, 2019 (WAM) — Pope Francis began his second papal voyage outside of Italy earlier this afternoon, when his flight departed Rome’s Fiumicino Airport for the six-hour journey to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.
The Catholic Pontiff is visiting the UAE at the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The Pope’s Apostolic Visit, from 3rd-5th February, is taking place early in the UAE’s Year of Tolerance, which has been designated as the theme of the year by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. His visit will coincide with one by the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al Azhar, Dr. Ahmed el-Tayeb.
The timing of the two visits underlines the UAE’s position as a global capital for the promotion of tolerance and humanitarianism.
The visit is the first ever made to the Arabian peninsula by the Head of the Catholic Church, and builds on the positive relationship that already exists between the UAE and the Vatican.
As is customary, the Pope will send telegrams to the various nations over which he will be flying as he travels to the UAE. His first telegram to Italian President Sergio Mattarella read: “At the moment in which I leave Rome for the United Arab Emirates, as a pilgrim of peace and fraternity among peoples, I extend to you, Mr. President, my deferential greeting, along with abundant good wishes for the Italian people, to whom I impart my blessing.”
WAM/Nour Salman/Rasha Abubaker