Abu Dhabi crown prince 'delighted' to meet pope during first-ever visit to Gulf
AP, , Monday 4 Feb 2019


Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince says he and Dubai's ruler were "delighted" to meet Pope Francis for a meeting amid the pontiff's trip to the United Arab Emirates.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan tweeted pictures of the meeting on Monday in what he described as "our homeland of tolerance.''

Sheikh Mohammed tweeted: "We discussed enhancing cooperation, consolidating dialogue, tolerance, human coexistence & important initiatives to achieve peace, stability and development for peoples and societies.'' He did not elaborate.

Earlier, Pope Francis has assured the people of the United Arab Emirates of his prayers and "the divine blessings of peace and fraternal solidarity.''

Francis signed a book of honor on Monday at the presidential palace in Abu Dhabi, where he met for private talks with the Emirati capital's powerful crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Frances wrote in his characteristic tiny script, in English, of his "gratitude for your warm welcome and hospitality.''

The Emirates put on a remarkably grandiose welcome for Francis, complete with an artillery salute and military flyover.

Pope Francis arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. His visit represents the first papal trip ever to the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam.

The highlight of Francis' day comes on Monday afternoon when he is to meet privately with a group of Muslim elders and then addresses faith leaders in a show of religious tolerance in a Muslim region known for its restrictions on religious freedom.

His 40-hour trip to Abu Dhabi culminates on Tuesday with the first-ever papal Mass on the Arabian Peninsula _ a gathering expected to draw some 135,000 people in a never-before-seen display of public Christian worship here.Pope Francis is opening his historic visit to the United Arab Emirates by meeting with the federation's leader and a group of Muslim elders .

After that, he will address an unprecedented gathering of faith leaders in a show of religious tolerance in a Muslim region known for its restrictions on religious freedom.

*This story has been edited by Ahram Online

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