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Pope Francis’s historic visit to UAE concludes

Pope Francis became the first ever pope to set foot in the Arabian Peninsula this week. He touched down in Abu Dhabi for the 48-hour trip during which he met leading Muslim clerics.

And delivered an open-air mass to more than 140,000 Catholics at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium.

The Emirati leaders have praised the pope ahead of his hour-and-a-half long mass, which was delivered in a combination of Arabic, English, and Latin.

On Monday, the Pope took part in a multi-religious conference sponsored by the UAE-based Muslim Council of Elders, an organization aimed at promoting a moderate brand of Islam to counter religious extremism.

Pope Francis and the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Alzhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb on Monday met in Abu Dhabi, embraced each other and called for peace. The two religious leaders signed a statement with their hopes for world peace and human understanding.

The document was signed in the name of “all victims of wars, persecution, and injustice; and those tortured in any part of the world, without distinction”.

It said: “We resolutely declare that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood.”

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Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan welcomed Pope Francis on Sunday in a grand ceremony.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi has given the Pope the 1963 deed of gift for the land where the first church in the UAE was built.

Mohamed bin Zayed bid farewell to Pope Francis after a three-day official visit, and also praised his role in establishing the foundations of peace, fraternity, and humanitarian dialogue.

Saman Siddiqui

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