Pope Francis in UAE: Making the world a better place

Pope Francis in UAE: Making the world a better place

Pope Francis landed in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates last Sunday night as the first pontiff to visit the Arabian Peninsula. He departed Tuesday, shortly after celebrating a historic Catholic mass with 135,000 people.

The unprecedented nature of this papal visit is awe inspiring. Never in the history of Christianity and Islam has the bishop of Rome travelled to the birthplace of the Muslim faith – let alone celebrated a public mass.

Beyond the historic implications, Pope Francis’ visit to the Arabian Peninsula marked a significant step toward advancing the principles of coexistence and religious freedom – a goal he and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque, codified in their joint declaration following the visit.

The United States applauds His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, and the UAE government for their invitation. The UAE is host to people from over 200 nationalities who are free to practice their faiths, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.

Bridging tolerance and understanding with the Muslim world has been a central priority of Pope Francis’s pontificate. He has on five occasions met with Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb and visited sacred Islamic sites such as Al-Aqsa Mosque in Israel and the Blue Mosque in Turkey.

The pope’s trip to the UAE built off the well-received visit to Saudi Arabia by the late Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran in 2018, who headed the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Earlier this year Pope Francis told the ambassadors accredited to the Vatican that his visit to the UAE and upcoming trip to Morocco “represent two important opportunities to advance interreligious dialogue and mutual understanding between the followers of both religions in this year that marks the 800th anniversary of the historic meeting between Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kāmil.”

A few days prior to his journey to the Arabian Peninsula, Pope Francis expressed to the news media how hopeful he was that through interreligious dialogue his visit could usher in “a new page in the history of relations between religions, confirming that we are brothers and sisters.”

The power of this sentiment – that through tolerance and understanding the great religions of the world can find common humanity – cannot be understated. These values of religious diversity and dialogue are also unequivocally shared by the United States under President Trump’s leadership.

On his first presidential trip overseas in 2017, President Trump visited religious centers of each Abrahamic faith – Saudi Arabia, Israel and Vatican City.

In his speech in Riyadh to the Arab Islamic American Summit, the president advocated for religious tolerance, freedom and dialogue: “For many centuries the Middle East has been home to Christians, Muslims and Jews living side-by-side. We must practice tolerance and respect for each other once again – and make this region a place where every man and woman, no matter their faith or ethnicity, can enjoy a life of dignity and hope.”

The United States understands that through interfaith engagement and dialogue, as well as respect for religious freedom, countries and regions once beset by division and violence can become more peaceful, secure and prosperous.

We congratulate His Holiness Pope Francis on his historic visit to the Arabian Peninsula and look forward to continuing our important work together to advance religious freedom around the world.


Author: Alain St.Ange

Alain St Ange has been working in the tourism business since 2009. He was appointed as the Director of Marketing for Seychelles by President and Minister of Tourism James Michel. He was appointed as the Director of Marketing for Seychelles by President and Minister of Tourism James Michel. After one year of After one year of service, he was promoted to the position of CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board. In 2012 the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands regional Organization was formed and St Ange was appointed as the first president of the organization. In a 2012 cabinet re-shuffle, St Ange was appointed as Minister of Tourism and Culture which he resigned on 28 December 2016 in order to pursue a candidacy as Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation. At the UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu in China, a person who was being sought after for the “Speakers Circuit” for tourism and sustainable development was Alain St.Ange. St.Ange is the former Seychelles Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine who left office in December last year to run for the position of Secretary General of the UNWTO. When his candidature or document of endorsement was withdrawn by his country just a day before the elections in Madrid, Alain St.Ange showed his greatness as a speaker when he addressed the UNWTO gathering with grace, passion, and style. His moving speech was recorded as the one on the best marking speeches at this UN international body. African countries often remember his Uganda address for the East Africa Tourism Platform when he was a guest of honor. As former Tourism Minister, St.Ange was a regular and popular speaker and was often seen addressing forums and conferences on behalf of his country. His ability to speak ‘off the cuff’ was always seen as a rare ability. He often said he speaks from the heart. In Seychelles he is remembered for a marking address at the official opening of the island’s Carnaval International de Victoria when he reiterated the words of John Lennon famous song… ” you may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one. One day you will all join us and the world will be better as one”. The world press contingent gathered in Seychelles on the day ran with the words by St.Ange which made headlines everywhere. St.Ange delivered the keynote address for the “Tourism & Business Conference in Canada” Seychelles is a good example for sustainable tourism. This is therefore not surprising to see Alain St.Ange being sought after as a speaker on the international circuit. Member of Travelmarketingnetwork.

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