Pope arrives in UAE for historic Gulf visit

Pope Francis became the first pontiff to visit the Arabian Peninsula on Sunday (February 3), just hours after issuing his strongest condemnation yet of the war in Yemen, where his host the United Arab Emirates has a leading military role.

Shortly before departing for Abu Dhabi, Pope Francis said he was following the humanitarian crisis in Yemen with great concern, using his regular Sunday address in Vatican City to urge all sides to implement a fragile peace deal and help deliver aid to millions of hungry people.

Television footage showed Francis being greeted on arrival by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who escorted him to meet Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar mosque, whom the pontiff embraced.

Both men will hold meetings with Pope Francis on Monday (February 4).

The pope will meet Muslim leaders and celebrate an outdoor mass for some 120,000 Catholics. He has said the trip, which ends on Tuesday (February 5), is an opportunity to write “a new page in the history of relations between religions”.

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