Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi for Interfaith Conference

Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi for Interfaith Conference

Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi for Interfaith Conference

BBC Arabic's Murad Batal Shishani, who is in Abu Dhabi, says the Vatican hopes that the Pope's visit might loosen restrictions on the building of churches in the region, particularly in neighbouring Saudi Arabia where non-Muslim places of worship are forbidden.

The prince is an ally of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has reached out to Christian representatives overseas as part of attempts to open up the conservative kingdom. The UAE has a sizeable Roman Catholic population and Pope Francis has referred to the country as a model of co-existence, a cause he has championed throughout his nearly six-year papacy.

Shortly afterwards Francis departed for Abu Dhabi, where he will be a guest of Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

The pontiff will take part in an interreligious conference on Monday with Sheikh Ahmed.

Some have been queuing for passes for Tuesday's Mass.

Before heading to the Gulf, the pontiff urged warring parties in Yemen, where the UAE backs the government against Huthi rebels, to respect a truce agreement.

"I appeal to the interested parties and to the global community to urgently encourage compliance with the agreements reached, to ensure the distribution of food and to work for the good of the population".

"The population [in Yemen] is exhausted by the lengthy conflict and a great many children are suffering from hunger, but can not access food depots", the Pope said.

"The cries of these children and their parents rise up" to God, he said from the Vatican before heading to Rome's airport for his flight.

Adorable 'Toy Story 4' trailer reunites Woody, Buzz, and pals
All the other regular voices are back again: Tom Hanks , Tim Allen , Joan Cusack , Kristen Schaal , and Bonnie Hunt . Toy Story 4 opens in Australia on June 20 and in the U.S. and United Kingdom on June 21.

The Holy Father's arrival marks the very first time a Pope has set foot on the Arabian Peninsula.

The UAE is home to almost a million Roman Catholics, majority from the Philippines or India.

Francis' other main initiative in Abu Dhabi is a giant Mass on Tuesday in the city's main sports arena that is expected to draw some 135,000 people in what some have called the largest show of public Christian worship on the Arabian Peninsula.

On Sunday morning, hundreds of Catholics queued in drizzling rain outside St. Joseph's Cathedral in Abu Dhabi to get their passes. One told AFP news agency the Pope's visit "opens doors for conversations about tolerance that the whole world needs to hear".

The UAE welcomed the Pope's message on Yemen and believes the peace deal he referred to was a historic breakthrough, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash wrote on Twitter.

Gargash pointed out the difference "between those hosting a cleric of violence and terrorism... and those who host the pope and the Al-Azhar sheikh for a dialogue of love and communication".

Four Arab nations - Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - have been boycotting Qatar since June 2017 as part of a regional political dispute.

In Saudi Arabia, non-Muslims pray in secret gatherings in private homes and embassies.

Millions of Yemenis face imminent starvation, according to the UN.

Recommended News

  • Jussie Smollett Made His First Public Appearance Since His Alleged Attack

    Jussie Smollett Made His First Public Appearance Since His Alleged Attack

    Smollett said his attackers used the n-word and "f*gg*t", placed a noose around his neck, and poured bleach on him. And above all: "I fought the fuck back". "But guess what, it stops with the people that believe in love".
    As Polar Vortex Freezes US, Satellite Track It from Space

    As Polar Vortex Freezes US, Satellite Track It from Space

    Cook County's medical examiner's office said there had been four confirmed cold-related death this week in the Chicago area. Milwaukee's low was minus 25 degrees (minus 31 Celsius), and Minneapolis recorded minus 24 degrees (minus 31 Celsius).

    A New TOY STORY 4 Trailer Has Arrived

    These toys may not be young anymore, but clearly, they've got a lot of life in them yet. In the meantime, check out the Toy Story 4 trailer below.
  • Day for Australian banks as bombshell inquiry report set for release

    Day for Australian banks as bombshell inquiry report set for release

    It found shocking evidence of misconduct and greed in the Australian financial sector, at the expense of customers and businesses. Under particular threat are funeral insurers, with the commissioner recommending they be regulated as a financial product.
    Bahraini footballer pleads in court against deportation

    Bahraini footballer pleads in court against deportation

    The extradition case proceeded after the Thai Attorney-General's office considered the Bahraini request submitted last week. Jones said al-Araibi has not been able to sleep properly for days and has fallen sick from being in an overcrowded prison.
    I ‘set the table beautifully’ for next border wall fight with Democrats

    I ‘set the table beautifully’ for next border wall fight with Democrats

    "I've set the stage for doing what I'm going to do". "He told the attorneys that I'm not a subject, I'm not a target", he said. Read the full story from the interview here. "We're going to have a strong border".
  • 3 World Series Contenders Nobody is Talking About

    Despite being loaded on offense, the Cardinals have been inefficient in 2019 and rank near the bottom-10 in runs and home runs. Louis has title-winning pedigree and are loaded offensively, but thus far simply haven’t delivered consistent results.
    Supreme Court temporarily blocks Louisiana abortion clinic law

    Supreme Court temporarily blocks Louisiana abortion clinic law

    The state argued there was no need for a stay because the law would be implemented gradually. The high court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.
    Cleveland Cavaliers are trading Rodney Hood to Portland Trail Blazers

    Cleveland Cavaliers are trading Rodney Hood to Portland Trail Blazers

    Even when Cousins is on the floor with the second unit, they could still use a secondary playmaker. They'll trade Alec Burks before Thursday's deadline, who's playing on an expiring contract.
  • The US Open Final: Who Will Make it?

    The 34-year-old Swiss won the first two sets 6-4 and 7-5, forcing an injured and struggling Djokovic to retire in the third. If she’s at her best, then she’ll make it to the final and if she performs on the day the title will be hers.
    Ligue 1: Dembele stars as Lyon end PSG’s unbeaten run

    Ligue 1: Dembele stars as Lyon end PSG’s unbeaten run

    Leo Dubois teed up Dembele for the equaliser, as the ex-Celtic forward beat Alphonse Areola to the ball to nod into an empty net.
    Sensational England humble Ireland in Six Nations clash

    Sensational England humble Ireland in Six Nations clash

    Slade also stated he hopes to continue his partnership with Manu Tuilagi in the future. "Who knows, maybe it can carry on".

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.