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Pope Francis celebrates public outdoor mass in Abu Dhabi

The Pope establishes an outstanding precedent. «I am visiting the United Arab Emirates as a brother, in order to write a page of dialogue together», he said.  Pope Francis arrives in Abu DhabiPope Francis arrives in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, Feb.4 (– On Tuesday, at 10:30am Pope Francis will hold mass at Zayed Sports City and then deliver his homily – a message, yet again, that would focus on tolerance, compassion and understanding – the very essence of Christianity, as seen in his tweet before he set out for the UAE.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the UAE Minister of Tolerance sees Pope’s visit as way to build bridges at a time of growing nationalism and insularism around the world. Al Nahyan was appointed the country’s first Minister of Tolerance in 2017. It is one of several unique government posts created in recent years. The UAE has declared 2019 it’s “Year of Tolerance.”

The Pope is scheduled to meet with leading Sunni Muslim clerics and other religious figures in an interfaith meeting in Abu Dhabi and celebrate Mass with Catholics living in the region. The UAE is home to around 1 million Catholics, including a sizeable Philippine community.

Foreigners make up the vast majority of the UAE’s population, but they are not allowed to take permanent residence or become citizens. Hindus, Christians and Jews are being permitted places of worship nowadays. Authorities have suppressed political dissent, however, jailing activists and curtailing human rights work. Rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, are blocked from conducting research in the UAE and political parties are banned.