“The Peace Visit” Documentary Film Highlights the UAE’s Religious Diversity and Commitment to Interfaith Cooperation and Coexistence
Washington, DC (16 July 2019) – Last night, interfaith leaders from Washington, DC and the United Arab Emirates gathered at the National Geographic Headquarters for an exclusive premier and discussion of The Peace Visit, a documentary film produced by National Geographic, which highlights the historic visit of Pope Francis to Abu Dhabi in February 2019. The event took place on the sidelines of the US State Department’s second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.
In welcoming distinguished guests to the event and introducing the film, National Geographic Partners Chairman Gary Knell remarked that Pope Francis’ visit to the UAE was a first for any pontiff, and represented an historic meeting of faiths in Abu Dhabi.
“His landmark trip attracted worldwide attention, with all of the grandeur and formalities that come with a papal visit set to the stunning, dramatic backdrop of the Arabian Peninsula,” said Knell. “But, this trip was more than just pomp and circumstance – it had a clear purpose: to promote tolerance across not only the Middle East, but the world.”
The film will be distributed by National Geographic Partners later this year.
Following a screening of The Peace Visit, a panel discussed the film and the broader impact Pope Francis’ visit had on the UAE and the region. The panel was moderated by Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, and included Scott Hellier, director of The Peace Visit; Reverend Andy Thompson, chaplain of St. Andrew’s Church in Abu Dhabi; and Reverend Johnnie Moore, commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Each of the panelists was present at Pope Francis’ mass in Abu Dhabi, and they shared their experience and thoughts on the lasting impact the visit will have to promote peace and coexistence among humankind.
The UAE has a longstanding commitment to promoting the values of tolerance and coexistence among all people. The first Catholic Church opened in Abu Dhabi in 1965 – before the UAE was founded. And the Vatican moved the See of Southern Arabia from Aden to Abu Dhabi in the 1970s. Today the UAE is home to more than one million Catholics and people of countless other faiths who worship freely.
“In the UAE, people with different beliefs can live, work and worship together,” said UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba. “Reverence, respect and compassion are core common values among all people. Prayer is both uniting and unifying.”
Ambassador Al Otaiba and senior diplomats from the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC attended the event. Also in attendance was a delegation of senior UAE officials who are participating in the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, led by Dr. Ali Nuaimi, Chairman of Hedayah. Dr. Al Nuaimi was joined by Hedayah Executive Director Dr. Maqsoud Kruse, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Director General Dr. Yousif Alobaidli, Evangelical Church of Abu Dhabi Pastor Jeramie Rinne and Jewish Community of the Emirates President Ross Kriel.