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
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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.”


Iran commemorates war with parade of tanks, missiles

Updated 23 September 2019

Iran commemorates war with parade of tanks, missiles

  • Saudi Arabia and the US have accused Iran of a Sept. 14 drone and missile attack on oil facilities

JEDDAH: As Saudi Arabia prepared to celebrate its National Day with entertainment events, firework displays and cultural events, Iran staged a military parade in Tehran on Sunday with tanks, missiles and armored vehicles.

President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian military leaders saluted as ranks of soldiers marched past them in tight unison, followed by an array of military hardware.

Among the weapons on display in the parade, held to mark the anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, was an upgraded warhead for the Khorramshahr ballistic missile, said to have a range of 2,000km, and the Kaman 12 drone with a range of 1,000km. Speedboats and warships were shown in video footage on state TV.

Saudi Arabia and the US have accused Iran of a Sept. 14 drone and missile attack on oil facilities in the east of the Kingdom. After the attack the Pentagon ordered US troops to reinforce Saudi air and missile defenses.

In a speech at Monday’s parade, Rouhani denounced the US presence. “Foreign forces can cause problems and insecurity for our people and for our region,” he said.

“If they’re sincere, then they should not make our region the site of an arms race.

“Their presence has always brought pain and misery ... the farther they keep themselves from our region and our nations, the more security there will be.”

The US aims to avoid war with Iran and the additional troops are for “deterrence and defense,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.

“If that deterrence should continue to fail, I am also confident that President Trump would continue to take the actions that are necessary,” he said.