With “As-Salamu Alaikum”, Pope Francis hailed Muslim ruled UAE

VATICAN CITY: As Pope Francis visit to UAE begins on Sunday February 3, he has extended his warm greetings to the leadership and people of the UAE.

The video posted in Italian by The Vatican on YouTube, on Thursday began with the Pope Francis’s Islamic greeting “As-Salamu Alaikum” (peace be upon you all) before saying he is “happy to be able to visit a “country which strives to be a model for co-existence and human fraternity, and a meeting point of different civilisations and cultures”.

In the three-minute clip, Pope Francis praises the Muslim ruled state and also describes the UAE as somewhere “where many find a safe place to work and live freely, while respecting diversity’. He said he was “delighted to be meeting with a people who live out their present and look forward to the future”.

Quoting the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE, the Pope said: “True wealth lies not just in material possibilities. The real wealth of a nation is the individuals who hear the sound of their future.”

While Pope Francis speaks in Italian, the video has been given English subtitles, and you can see the full message here:

He is also later seen thanking Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces as well as the extended UAE authorities for the “excellent collaboration” and “generous hospitality”.

“I am glad for the opportunity that God has given me, here in your land, where a new page of historic interfaith relationships will be written, that emphasises we are brothers despite our differences,” Pope Francis said in the video.

The video concludes warmly with “Thank you so much and see you soon” message by the Pope

Pope Francisis the first papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula. He will arrive in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, late Sunday night for his landmark three-day visit – from February 3 to 5.

The theme of the papal visit is, ‘Make Me a Channel of Your Peace’ will culminate in a public Mass for 135,000 people at Zayed Sports City.

The UAE prides itself on its religious tolerance and cultural diversity, and most Gulf Arab states have long allowed Christians to worship in churches.

Nearly 80 percent of the population of the UAE is Muslim, while Christians constitute around nine percent, according to the Catholic News Agency.

Many of the Catholics are workers from Africa, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and the Philippines, though some are locals.