The Vatican has opened a diplomatic mission in the UAE. Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, a close aide to Pope Francis and substitute of the Secretariat of State at the Vatican, inaugurated the Apostolic Nunciature in Abu Dhabi at a ceremony on Friday.
Speaking at the ceremony, Archbishop Parra conveyed the Pope's "cordial greetings and spiritual closeness" to everyone in the UAE. He also expressed the Pope's best wishes for the recent celebration of the 50th anniversary of the country's founding, Vatican News has reported.
"The presence of this new Apostolic Nunciature is a further sign of the Holy Father's solicitude and concern for all the people in this land," he said. "The diplomatic mission represents the good bilateral relations that already exist between the United Arab Emirates and the Holy See."
The Vatican established diplomatic relations with the UAE 15 years ago, at which time the nearest Apostolic Nunciature was in Kuwait.
The inauguration coincided with International Day of Human Fraternity, which commemorates the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity in Abu Dhabi in 2019 by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al-Tayeb.
Among those in attendance at the embassy's opening was the Minister of Culture and Youth, Noura Bint Mohammed Al-Kaabi; a high-level delegation sent by Pope Francis; Bishop Paul Hinder, the Apostolic Vicar for Southern Arabia; and top government officials.
Late last month, the Vatican expressed its solidarity with the UAE following the retaliatory attacks by Yemen's Houthi-aligned army over its involvement in the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Saudi Arabia's southern neighbour. The Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, offered his condolences to the victims in a telephone conversation with Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. Parolin praised the UAE as a "leading model of global human solidarity."
Bin Zayed said that the UAE is keen to develop its relations with the Vatican on various levels, reported The National.