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Holy See and United Arab Emirates establish diplomatic relations

 The Holy See and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), announced on Friday that they have decided to establish diplomatic relations, with the aim of "promoting bonds of mutual friendship and of strengthening international cooperation." The UAE will assign an ambassador to the Vatican and the Vatican will send a papal nuncio to the UAE. The joint communique states that the agreement was signed on the part of the Holy See by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, and for the United Arab Emirates by Abdulaziz Nasser Al-Shamsi, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the UAE to the United Nations. A note attached to the communique recalls that the United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven independent emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Al-Fujayrah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Qaiwain) located along the central-eastern coast of the Arab peninsula, and has Abu Dhabi as its capital city. It has a surface area of 83,600 square kilometres and a population of more than four million including a large percentage (more than 70 percent) of foreign workers, mostly from other Middle Eastern countries, Pakistan, India, Philippines and Bangladesh. The official language is Arabic. The majority of UAE citizens is Muslim, which is the official religion of State. "The constitution," the note reads, "affirms the principle of religious freedom and Christians are able to perform their public religious activities in churches and parish centres." The United Arab Emirates forms part of the Apostolic Vicariate of Arabia, which is under the pastoral care of Bishop Paul Hinder OFM Cap.and has its headquarters in Abu Dhabi. The note says: "there are more than a million Christians, mostly Catholics, of more than a hundred nationalities who contribute to the social wellbeing of the nation. There are seven churches in the country where Mass is celebrated in various languages and rites. The expectation exists that the authorities, who maintain cordial relations with the Catholic Church, will approve the building of new centres of worship. Various religious congregations offer educational services in seven schools." Source: Fides