Pope Francis said he was looking to write a new page in the history of relations between religions with his visit to the UAE next week, AFP reported Thursday (January 31st).
"I am happy ... to write on your dear land a new page in the relations between religions, confirming that we are brothers although different," he said in a video message to the Emirati people released Thursday.
In the message, in Italian but also dubbed into Arabic, the pope 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 3rd to February 5th.
He said the visit would give him the opportunity to again see "friend and dear brother" Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, al-Azhar's Grand Imam, whom he met on a visit in 2017.
Francis has made boosting ties between Christianity and Islam a cornerstone of his papacy.
The pope 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".
Francis also said the UAE was "a land that seeks to be a model of co-existence, 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.