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

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.”

Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

Syrian children are pictured at a refugee camp in the village of Mhammara in the northern Lebanese Akkar region on March 9, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 57 min 7 sec ago

Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

  • UN official stresses ‘urgent need to ensure’ their ‘safe, voluntary and dignified return’
  • Some 215,000 Syrian students are currently enrolled in Lebanon's schools 

BEIRUT: Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about reports that Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon face torture and murder.

This coincides with a debate in Lebanon about whether Syrian refugees should return without waiting for a political solution to the conflict in their country. 

UN Special Coordinator Jan Kubis stressed after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday the “urgent need to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees home, according to international humanitarian norms.” 

Kubis added: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible. Another very important message was also to support the host communities here in Lebanon.”

Mireille Girard, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on Monday said: “The reconstruction process in Syria may not be enough to attract refugees to return. We are working to identify the reasons that will help them to return.”

She added: “The arrival of aid to the refugees is an element of trust that helps them to return. Their dignity and peaceful living must be ensured.”

Social Affairs Minister Richard Kouyoumdjian said the Lebanese General Security “issued lists containing the names of refugees wishing to return to their homes, but the Syrian regime accepted only about 20 percent of them.”

He added: “The solution is to call on the international community to put pressure on Russia, so that Moscow can exert pressure on (Syrian President) Bashar Assad’s regime to show goodwill and invite Syrian refugees to return to their land without conditions, procedures, obstacles and laws that steal property and land from them.”

Lebanese Education Minister Akram Chehayeb said: “The problem is not reconstruction and infrastructure, nor the economic and social situation. The main obstacle is the climate of fear and injustice in Syria.”

He added: “There are 215,000 Syrian students enrolled in public education in Lebanon, 60,000 in private education, and there are informal education programs for those who have not yet attended school to accommodate all children under the age of 18.” 

Chehayeb said: “As long as the displacement crisis continues, and as long as the (Assad) regime’s decision to prevent the (refugees’) return stands … work must continue to absorb the children of displaced Syrians who are outside education to protect Lebanon today and Syria in the future.”