Tickets now available online for historic Pope Francis’ mass in the UAE

Pope Francis is set to visit the UAE on Feb. 3 to 5. (File/AFP)
Updated 11 January 2019
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Tickets now available online for historic Pope Francis’ mass in the UAE

  • The mass will take place at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi
  • Residents can register through the official website of the Papal visit

DUBAI: Attendees to the papal mass in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 5 can now register online, a Catholic church body in the region has announced.

Residents from the UAE, Oman and Yemen who would like to attend the mass can register through the official website of the Papal visit, according to the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia (AVOSA), a Catholic church jurisdiction covering the three Gulf nations.

The mass will take place at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi on the last day of Pope Francis’ UAE trip. The stadium has a capacity of over 40,000 people.

A few reserved seats will also be allocated for residents from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain. A “very limited” number of tickets will be issued to non-GCC residents on a first-come, first-served basis.

“As this is a visit to the AVOSA, tickets are reserved primarily for the local faithful. However, we understand that this is a rare opportunity for people living nearby to see the pope,” AVOSA said on its website.

“Details on distribution policies are being worked out. We will have more information regarding this on our website very soon,” the statement added.

The February visit will be Pope Francis’ seventh trip to a predominantly Muslim nation, including Palestine, Jordan and Egypt, with the 82-year old pontiff employing those visits to call for inter-religious peace.

Crown Prince Mohammed had 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.”


Israel spyware firm can mine data from social media: FT

Updated 19 July 2019
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Israel spyware firm can mine data from social media: FT

  • An Israeli cybersecurity company has developed spyware that can scrape data from the servers of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft products
  • Pegasus harvests not only data stored on a device, but also any information stored in the cloud, including a user’s location data, archived messages and photos

JERUSALEM: An Israeli spyware firm thought to have hacked WhatsApp in the past has told clients it can scoop user data from the world’s top social media, the Financial Times reported Friday.
The London paper wrote that NSO group had “told buyers its technology can surreptitiously scrape all of an individual’s data from the servers of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, according to people familiar with its sales pitch.”
An NSO spokesperson, responding in a written statement to AFP’s request for comment, denied the allegation.
“There is a fundamental misunderstanding of NSO, its services and technology,” it said.
“NSO’s products do not provide the type of collection capabilities and access to cloud applications, services, or infrastructure as listed and suggested in today’s FT article.”
In May, Facebook-owned WhatsApp said it had released an update to plug a security hole in its messaging app that allowed insertion of sophisticated spyware that could be used to spy on journalists, activists and others.
It said the attack bore “all the hallmarks of a private company that works with a number of governments around the world.”
It did not name a suspect but Washington-based analyst Joseph Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said at the time that the hack appeared related to the NSO’s Pegasus software.
It is normally sold to law enforcement and intelligence services.
Friday’s FT report, citing documents it had viewed and descriptions of a product demonstration, said the program had “evolved to capture the much greater trove of information stored beyond the phone in the cloud, such as a full history of a target’s location data, archived messages or photos.”
NSO says it does not operate the Pegasus system, only licensing it to closely vetted government users “for the sole purpose of preventing or investigating serious crime including terrorism.”
The group came under the spotlight in 2016 when researchers accused it of helping spy on an activist in the United Arab Emirates.
NSO is based in the Israeli seaside hi-tech hub of Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. It says it employs 600 people in Israel and around the world.
Pegasus is a highly invasive tool that can reportedly switch on a target’s cell phone camera and microphone, and access data on it, effectively turning the phone into a pocket spy.
“Increasingly sophisticated terrorists and criminals are taking advantage of encrypted technologies to plan and conceal their crimes, leaving intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the dark and putting public safety and national security at risk,” the company statement said.
“NSO’s lawful interception products are designed to confront this challenge.”