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Pope Francis will travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next year, making him the first pope to ever visit the Arabian Peninsula.
He will embark on a three-day trip to Abu Dhabi on 3rd February 2018 to attend an interfaith meeting, the Vatican announced.
The news was welcomed in a statement released by Bishop Paul Hinder, a leader of the Catholic Church in UAE, Oman and Yemen.
He said: "I wish that the short visit be a moment of deepening our faith and our adherence to the bishop of Rome who is the head of the college of all bishops.
"Please pray that the visit will be a spiritual event. Pray for the rulers of this country who make the visit possible."
Francis has promoted inter-religious dialogue during previous visits to other Muslim-majority nations - including Turkey, Jordan and Egypt.
He was invited to the UAE by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Catholic Church in UAE.
We welcome the news of Pope Francis' visit to the United Arab Emirates next February - a visit that will strengthen our ties and understanding of each other, enhance interfaith dialogue and help us to work together to maintain and build peace among the nations of the world.— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) December 6, 2018
Greg Burke from the Holy See Press Office said the theme of the visit will be 'make me a channel of your peace'.
He added: "That's the pope's intention in going to the United Arab Emirates; how all people of goodwill can work for peace will be a major topic on this trip."
The event Pope Francis shall attend has been named the 'International Interfaith Meeting on Human Fraternity'.
Open Doors, a Christian organisation which reports on persecution, describes the UAE as "fairly tolerant towards expatriate Christian communities" but warned Muslim converts encounter "a great deal of pressure to recant their faith."
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