VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis plans to visit the United Arab Emirates in February to push for Christian-Muslim dialogue and peace in the first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula.
The Feb. 3-5 trip to Abu Dhabi centers around an interfaith meeting, the Vatican said Thursday. Francis will also have the chance to meet with political leaders as well as the UAE’s Catholic community, which is made up almost exclusively of foreign workers.
It’s the latest trip to be announced in what is shaping up to be one of Francis’ busiest years for foreign travel, with trips to Central America, North Africa and now the Gulf confirmed, and ones to Asia and East Africa under consideration.
While Francis has visited other Muslim-majority nations, including Egypt, Turkey and Jordan, the UAE trip will mark the first pastoral visit by a pope to the Arabian Peninsula. Pope Paul VI visited Iran in 1970.