Abu Dhabi: Pope Francis will arrive in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday, becoming the first pontiff to visit the Arabian peninsula. The Pope has been invited by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan to take part in an interfaith conference, reports the BBC.
The landmark trip will also feature a Mass on Tuesday that is expected to draw 120,000 people.
In a tweet on Saturday, the Crown Prince said: “We welcome Pope Francis to the UAE. This historic visit will deepen the values of tolerance, understanding and interfaith dialogue.
“We are bound by our humanity, our common values and belief in the future of humankind. Welcome to the UAE in this, our year of tolerance,” the Gulf News reported.
However, this is not the first meeting between a Pontiff and a Gulf Cooperation Council ruler.
In 2007, the late King Abdullah met Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican, the first-ever meeting between a Pope and a reigning Saudi King.
The UAE is home to nearly one million Roman Catholics, mostly from India or the Philippines.