Pope Francis arrives to hold public mass in UAE

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The UAE has a sizeable Roman Catholic population and Pope Francis has referred to the country as a model of co-existence, a cause he has championed throughout his nearly six-year papacy.

Shortly before departing for Abu Dhabi on Sunday, 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 the deal and help deliver aid.

Tens of thousands of people flocked to a sports stadium in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday to attend the first mass held in the Arabian Peninsula by a pope.

Sheikh Ahmed greeted the pope personally with an embrace on Sunday night as the pontiff arrived in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.

"We have to say it is really a big event for us which we never expected", said Sumitha Pinto, an Indian native who has lived in the UAE for almost 20 years.

Peter Hellyer, media adviser to the UAE's National Media Council, discusses the country's commitment to tolerance and shares his thoughts on the historic visit after living over 40 years in the country.

On Monday, the pontiff called for an end to war, injustice and inequality as he addressed hundreds of representatives from different faiths at an inter-religious meeting, among them Ahmed al-Tayyeb, Egypt's Grand Imam of al-Azhar, the world's largest Sunni Islamic centre of learning.

Gargash pointed out the difference "between those hosting a cleric of violence and terrorism. and those who host the pope and the Al-Azhar sheikh for a dialogue of love and communication".

ABU DHABI UNITED ARAB EMIRATES- FEBRUARY 05 Worshippers wait for the arrival of Pope Francis to celebrate Mass at Zayed Sport City
Pope Francis gets red-carpet welcome on 'historic' trip to UAE as he becomes first pontiff to visit Arabian Peninsula

Here are some stunning pictures from Pope Francis' visit to UAE from Tuesday.

The pope waved at an enthusiastic crowd carrying Vatican flags and banners as he drove into Zayed Sports City Stadium, where an altar with a large cross was set up for the unprecedented open-air service in a country where worship is normally allowed only inside churches.

HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid, Ruler of Dubai, took to Instagram to share photos from the document signing, which he captioned, "UAE today was proud to host the historic meeting of His Holiness Pope Francis and His Eminence Dr. Ahmad Al Tayeb".

Catholics believe the pope is the vicar of Christ on earth, so that participating in a papal Mass is particularly special.

The UAE has been involved in the Saudi-led military coalition in the war in Yemen.

That prompted 138 Muslim scholars to write a letter to Benedict and other Christian leaders emphasizing that world peace depended on harmony between the two faiths.

Meanwhile, many migrant workers - predominantly from South Asia, many of whom form a large part of the country's Christian population - continue to be vulnerable to forced labour inside the Gulf Kingdom, despite foreign nationals account for almost 90 percent of the UAE's population.

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