In pictures: Pope arrives in the UAE in landmark visit

The Pope was welcomed by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and Grand Imam Ahmad Al Tayyeb



Images courtesy: WAM

Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church, arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening marking the first time a pontiff has set foot in the GCC.

He was received at the airport by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as well as Sheikh Ahmad Al Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al Azhar Al Sharif.

During his visit, the Pope will hold meetings with Sheikh Mohamed and Sheikh Ahmad as part of an interfaith meeting. He will also visit the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and celebrate an outdoor mass which around 135,000 Catholics are expected to attend.

In a statement, Sheikh Mohamed welcomed the two religious leaders to the UAE and said their visit is especially important in promoting the values of fraternity, peace and peaceful coexistence.

The Pope’s visit is also significant because it reinforces ties of friendship and cooperation between the UAE and the Vatican, he said.

“The UAE has been, and will continue to be, a beacon of tolerance, moderation and coexistence. It will be a key participant in the dialogue of civilisations and cultures and will continue to oppose intolerance and extremism regardless of its origin,” Sheikh Mohamed said.

The Pope’s visit to the UAE “sends a message to the whole world that the Arab region, the centre of the three monotheistic faiths, whose people have lived in harmony and peace for centuries, is unlike the often invoked image of extremism and terrorism,” he said.

The visit of the Pope also comes as the UAE observes 2019 as the Year of Tolerance.

Read: Everything you need to know about Pope Francis’ visit to the UAE

The Pope has said that his trip, which ends on Tuesday, is an opportunity to write “a new page in the history of relations between religions”.

The UAE is home to around one million expatriate Catholics, while another one million Catholics are believed to live in other countries in the region.

Also read: Pope to receive book about tolerance by Abu Dhabi reverend