Pope Francis makes history with UAE visit

Pope Francis makes history with UAE visit

There is no fitting word to describe but – Historic!

The Catholic church’s Pope Francis is the first pope that was able to visit the Arabian Peninsula.

Pope Francis will be attending an interfaith meeting in the UAE as part of his outreach to Muslims.

Roman Catholic's Pope Francis visits United Arab Emirates, viewed as historic since he is the first Pope to set foot in the Arabian Peninsula the birthplace of Islam (photo credit to Philstar)

The historic visit of the pope in the United Arab Emirates  will include an open-air mass for 135,000 of the Muslim country's million Catholic residents.

Last Sunday when he touched down in Abu Dhabi said he came "as a brother, in order to write a page of dialogue together, and to travel paths of peace together.”

In this visit the Pope is expected to raise the issue of Yemen, devastated by the war in which UAE is a key player, with Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

Yemen is home to what the United Nation calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, triggered by the intervention of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies in a war between the government and Huthi rebels. 

It is estimated that more than 10 million Yemenis now risk imminent starvation because of the war.

UAE dubbed 2019 is "year of tolerance"

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb -- imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's prestigious seat of learning -- greeted the pope with an embrace on as the pontiff arrived in Abu Dhabi.Also there to greet the Pope, was the emirate's crown prince.

There will be an open air mass in a stadium in the capital, which local media dubs as the largest public gathering event in the country. Estimated number of attendees was pegged at 135,000.

UAE has eight Catholic churches, and the gulf state is home to a nearly 1 million Catholics, migrants from Asian countries make up about 65% of that number.

UAE has dubbed 2019 as its “year of tolerance” but rights groups have criticies UAE’s role in the Saudi-led alliance against the Huthis in Yemen which has resulted to an estimated 10,000 killings.

Right groups has urged the Pope to tackle the issue of Yemen with the UAE officials.

Pope addresses Yemen war

Before leaving the Gulf State last Sunday, Pope Francis urged warring parties in the Yemen conflict to respect a truce agreement in allowing food deliveries in the affected areas.

"The population is exhausted by the lengthy conflict and a great many children are suffering from hunger, but cannot access food depots," Pope said.
"The cry of these children and their parents rises up to God."

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Report from PhilStar

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