Pope Francis Begins Historic Middle East Visit

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Pope Francis on Sunday made a public plea to the worldwide community to respect the Yemen ceasefire accord, hours before launching an historic visit to the United Arab Emirates, a prominent member of the Saudi-led coalition.

Pope Francis, on a historic visit to the United Arab Emirates, has urged religious leaders to work together to reject war, . denouncing violence committed in the name of God.

Through this inter-faith dialogue, UAE aims to strengthen its image of being the tolerant Muslim country which discourages radical Islamic ideology unlike its neighbour Saudi Arabia.

He also held talks Monday in Abu Dhabi with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb - imam of Cairo´s Al-Azhar.

The crowd was elated and appreciated Francis' words. People wearing white baseball caps emblazoned with the visit logo packed the stadium stands and snapped pictures on their smartphones.

He says the figure includes 135,000 tickets given out for seats at the Mass in the Zayed Sports City Stadium, as well as the throngs of people who crowded around it from the outside to catch a glimpse of the pope as he traveled by in his open-top popemobile.

In response, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said in a tweet that he "welcomed" the pontiff's prayers, calling on 2019 to be "the year of peace" in Yemen.

"There is no alternative: we will either build the future together or there will not be a future", he said.

"It's something new for the Muslim world, that within the discussion of dialogue, they're talking about inter-religious dialogue across the board", beyond basic Christian-Muslim relations, said Marco Impagliazzo, president of Sant'Egidio, a Rome-based Catholic organization active in interfaith relations who will be attending the conference. He also called on Muslims in the West to integrate in their host nations and respect local laws.

Rights groups, which have slammed the UAE over its intolerance of dissent, have also urged the pope to raise the issue of Ahmed Mansoor, an Emirati activist serving a 10-year prison term.

Muscat: Pope Francis has left the UAE following his historic visit to Abu Dhabi, the first of any pontiff to the Arabian Peninsula.

"I am not sure what will change: time will tell - hope, hope", she said. This is why we said that the UAE is the worthiest of hosting the Pope.

"It's a dream come true". "This is something that was not obvious three to five years ago".

The sheikh, during his address, called the pope "my dear brother".

"I feel renewed, positive, he is an inspiration for me and my family".

To Christians, he noted: "You are part of this nation".

Pope Francis' UAE visit will revive the strained Muslim-catholic leadership ties?

All Gulf states except Saudi Arabia allow Christian worship in churches or church compounds, and in other premises with special licences. There are more than 40 churches, nine of them for Catholics.

The Catholic Church believes there are a million Catholics in the UAE.

The pope will meet Muslim leaders and celebrate an outdoor mass for some 120,000 Catholics. This is being organised by the UAE Council of Elders where the pontiff will be projected as the "star of religous tolerance".

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