Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi wishes Christians across the world peace and happiness in Christmas message

The UAE 'founded in the spirit of tolerance, love and co-existence' says Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - September 15, 2016: HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (L), meets with His Holiness Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome (R), in the Papal Library at the Apostolic Palace. 
( Ryan Carter / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi ) *** Local Caption ***  20160915RC_C164701.jpg
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In a Christmas message, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces offered congratulations from the UAE to Christians across the world in the "spirit of tolerance, love and co-existence".

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa has announced that 2019 will be the Year of Tolerance, and Pope Francis will visit the Emirates in February for the first time, in what will be a milestone moment for interfaith relations and Catholics in the Gulf.

It is thought there are about one million Christians in the UAE, roughly 10 per cent of the country's population. Many are Catholics from the Philippines, India and different African nations, though there are many Christian churches and religious denominations in the Emirates.


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Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Tolerance, said the UAE's focus next year will be to promote peaceful co-existence and an open, respectful dialogue among the country's diverse population.

The Grand Imam of Al Azhar has been invited to participate in the UAE's Global Conference for Human Fraternity in February, to coincide with Pope Francis's visit.

The invitation to the pontiff was extended jointly by Sheikh Mohamed and the Catholic Church in the UAE, and follows a visit by the crown prince to the Vatican in 2016.