The three days visit of Pope Francis to the UAE has attracted tremendous global attention, the kind of which has hardly been noticed in recent history. The event signified to overcome the modern boundaries of Islam/Arab vs Christian/ West and to welcome the regional and global peace and stability.
There are several important reasons behind the warm global reception to the Pope’s visit to the UAE. The visit came in the midst of the rising authoritarian, nationalistic regimes and xenophobic voices, terrorism, sectarianism, religious-secular-ethnic divide across major parts of the world, particularly in the “matured” land of democracy. The Pope’s visit revived the hope of togetherness and civility of life.
This was Pope’s first visit to the land of Arabia. Arabian Peninsula represents Islam. The visit had the favour of Saudi Arabia as UAE is very close ally of Saudi Arabia and took place in the context of growing Israeli-Saudi bonhomie in view of checkmating the Iranian threat or keeping the USA remained in Gulf through Jewish lobby, visit of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to Oman and gradual opening of Saudi Arabia to the idea of pluralism.
Arabia’s culture, people, religion, civilization, and language all were embraced by the Pope. The standing invitation of the UAE through Muslim Council of Elders headed by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayyib to celebrate UAE’s declaration of 2019 as “Year of Tolerance” signaled Arabia’s readiness to embrace other and to welcome all those who had left Arabia due to persecution or hardship.
In the UAE, the pope supervised an International Interfaith Meeting on Human Fraternity. “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” was signed with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyib in front of a Catholic Mass of more than 1.3 million Catholic Christians, mostly from India and Philippines. The Document is very important for encouraging human fraternity. It rejects political manipulation of religion and also indicates there is no place of terrorism and violence in religion.