Pope Francis arrived Abu Dhabi for the first time on Sunday, the pontiff’s speech scheduled at a giant mass at the capital city sports arena on Tuesday, BBC reported.
The pontiff will speak in front of around 135,000 people tomorrow, said official Vatican site. This papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula is hard to underestimate. Prior to his visit, none of his predecessors has visited an Arabian country where the official religion is Muslim.
After landing in Abu Dhabi Pope Francis was greeted by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. The main aim of the papal visit is to improve Christian-Muslim relations, according to the schedule, the Rome Catholic Church’s leader set two his priorities – in the Sunday to Tuesday trip he is going to promote interfaith dialogue and visiting Catholic areas.
Prior to travelling to the United Arab Emirates, in a video message on Thursday, the pontiff said: “Faith in God unites and does not divide, it draws us closer despite differences, it distances us from hostilities and aversion.”
The religious experts believe that papal visit to an Arabian peninsula could loosen restrictions on the building of churches in the region, particularly in neighbouring Saudi Arabia where non-Muslim places of worship are forbidden.
For Catholics who live in the UAE, pontiff’s visit is an extremely important event. That Arabian state is home to nearly a million Roman Catholics, most of them from the Philippines or India. Last weekend, some have been queuing for passes for Tuesday’s Mass, they believe the Pope’s visit opens doors for interconfessional conversations about tolerance that the whole world needs to hear.