Pope Francis will visit the UAE in February: Vatican City

Pope Francis will visit Abu Dhabi to take part in an international “interfaith” meeting. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 06 December 2018
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Pope Francis will visit the UAE in February: Vatican City

  • Vatican said the pope had accepted an invitation from Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan
  • Francis has already visited Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Bangladesh and Azerbaijan, the Palestinian territories

ABU DHABI: Pope Francis will visit Abu Dhabi in the UAE in February, the Vatican said on Thursday, in his seventh trip to a predominantly Muslim nation to call for inter-religious peace.

The trip will take place from Feb. 3-5. The Vatican said the pope had accepted an invitation from Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the Catholic community there. He will attend an inter-faith meeting.

Crown Prince Mohammed said in a tweet that the pope "is a symbol of peace, tolerance and the promotion of brotherhood. We look forward to a historic visit, through which we will seek dialogue on the peaceful coexistence among peoples."

Pope Francis was quick in the months after his election in 2013 to make overtures to worshippers from other religions, inviting two old friends from Buenos Aires – a Rabbi and a Muslim professor – on a trip to the Middle East where he condemned religious hatred.

Francis has already visited Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Bangladesh and Azerbaijan, the Palestinian territories and used those trips to call for inter-religious dialogue and to condemn the notion of violence in the name of God.

“The theme of the visit is 'Make Me a Channel of Your Peace' – and that's the Pope’s intention in going to the United Arab Emirates. How all people of goodwill can work for peace will be a major topic on this trip,” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said.

The theme is taken from the opening words of the Prayer of Peace of Francis of Assisi, the saint whose name the pope took during his election ceremony.

“This visit, like the one to Egypt (in 2017), shows the fundamental importance the Holy Father gives to inter-religious dialogue. Pope Francis visiting the Arab world is a perfect example of the culture of encounter,” Burke said.

Bishop Paul Hinder of the Arabian Vicariate of Southern Arabia (UAE, Oman and Yemen) said: “I express my gratitude to the UAE government, which has made this visit possible. I urge the Christian community and our Catholic faithful that we respect and cooperate with the instructions of a special team, which is being put in place for the visit.

“The team will work closely with the government to ensure this visit goes smoothly and according to plan.

“The generosity of the UAE government has also been extended in making it possible to celebrate a Mass, which will be on February 5 at a public venue in Abu Dhabi. These are warm and kind gestures that we appreciate and acknowledge.”   

The pope's trip to the UAE will come ahead of a visit in March to Morocco.


Iran can expand range of ballistic missiles: Guards commander

Updated 10 December 2018
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Iran can expand range of ballistic missiles: Guards commander

  • The Iranian government has ruled out negotiations with Washington over its military capabilities
  • Last month, Hajjizadeh said that US bases in Afghanistan, the UAE and Qatar, and US aircraft carriers in the Gulf were within range of Iranian missiles

GENEVA: Iran has the ability to build ballistic missiles with a broader range, a senior commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Monday, according to the semi-official Fars News agency.
Iran’s missiles currently cover a range of 2000 kilometers (1,240 miles) and many “enemy bases” are within 800 kilometers of the Islamic Republic, Amirali Hajjizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards’ airspace division, was cited as saying.
US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program in May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. He said the deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.
“We have the ability to build missiles with a broader range,” Hajjizadeh said, according to Fars News. He added, “We don’t have limitations from a technical perspective or by conventions with regard to missile range.”
The Iranian government has ruled out negotiations with Washington over its military capabilities, particularly its missile program run by the Guards.
Last month, Hajjizadeh said that US bases in Afghanistan, the UAE and Qatar, and US aircraft carriers in the Gulf were within range of Iranian missiles.
In October, the Revolutionary Guards fired missiles at Daesh militants in Syria after the extremist group took responsibility for an attack at a military parade in Iran that killed 25 people, nearly half of them members of the Guards.