Catholics in UAE await arrival of Pope Francis

Pope Francis is visiting the UAE on invitation from Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. (AFP)
Updated 03 February 2019

Catholics in UAE await arrival of Pope Francis

  • The historic papal visit is the first in a series of events to mark 2019 as the “year of tolerance” in the UAE
  • The visit coincides with a trip to the UAE by Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar in Cairo

DUBAI: Catholics in the UAE and around the Gulf are waiting expectantly for the touchdown of Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi on Sunday night — the first time a pontiff from the Church of Rome has set foot on the Arabian peninsula.
The visit coincides with a trip to the UAE by Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar in Cairo. It will be the first time two such senior leaders of Islam and Catholicism have met.
The historic papal visit is the first in a series of events to mark 2019 as the “year of tolerance” in the UAE. Francis will take part in the Human Fraternity Meeting in Abu Dhabi, where he will meet other leaders of the world’s great religions, “reflecting the values of  brotherhood, love and peaceful dialogue,” the organizers said.
The highlight of the visit will be an open-air service in Abu Dhabi, where the pope will celebrate mass before a crowd estimated at 140,000 watching in the Zayed Sports City Stadium and outside on giant TV screens.
Hundreds of coaches will leave Dubai on Monday evening with worshippers hoping to catch a glimpse of the Pope in Abu Dhabi, in what one observer described as a “Christian pilgrimage” in Arabia.
Leaders of other religions in Abu Dhabi include a representative of the Jewish community, and many Catholic expatriates living in Saudi Arabia are also expected to fly to the UAE for the historic event.
Raad Jaboouri Al-Sheikh, an Iraqi Catholic who has lived in the UAE for 17 years, told Arab News: “It is an amazing thing. I never expected to see this. He has visited other parts of the world where there are many more Catholics, so it is an honor he is coming to see us.”


Erdogan hit by more arms bans as pressure grows over Syria invasion

Updated 16 October 2019

Erdogan hit by more arms bans as pressure grows over Syria invasion

  • United States threatens more sanctions
  • Britain, Spain and Sweden joined Germany and France in suspending military exports

ANKARA: Three more countries halted arms sales to Turkey on Tuesday as pressure mounted on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the Turkish invasion of northeast Syria.

Britain, Spain and Sweden joined Germany and France in suspending military exports, and the US threatened Ankara with more sanctions unless Erdogan halts the offensive.

“We will keep our defense exports to Turkey under very careful and continual review,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said. “No further export licenses to Turkey for items which might be used in military operations in Syria will be granted while we conduct that review.”

Spain, a major arms exporter to Turkey, urged Erdogan to “put an end to this military operation” because it endangered regional stability, increased the number of refugees and threatened Syria’s territorial integrity.

“In coordination with its EU partners, Spain will deny new export licenses for military equipment that can be used in the operation in Syria,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Sweden also halted exports of military combat equipment. “Two permits that have been active have now been recalled,” it said.

BACKGROUND

Vice President Mike Pence will hold talks with Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday, and the UN Security Council will discuss the invasion.

Erdogan’s assault against Kurdish forces, launched last week, has prompted a chorus of international condemnation. “Many NATO allies are very critical and are condemning the military operation in northern Syria,” said Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, the Western military alliance of which Turkey is a member.

Russia’s presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, said Turkey had no right to deploy its forces in Syria permanently, and Moscow had not approved the operation.

US President Donald Trump imposed new sanctions on Turkey on Monday, and on Tuesday the US said more sanctions would follow unless the invasion was halted.

“The plan is to continue the pressure on Turkey as we evaluate our chances to return the relationship to normal, a major element of that return to normal would be a cease-fire,” a senior administration official said. “And by cease-fire what I mean is forces on the ground stop moving on the ground.”

Vice President Mike Pence will hold talks with Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday, and the UN Security Council will discuss the invasion.