Pope Francis concluded his historic visit to the Arabian Peninsula with the first-ever papal Mass held in Zayed Sports City Stadium in the United Arab Emirates. The stadium has a capacity of about 43,000, while the Mass was expected to draw some 135,000 faithful.
The Catholic Church estimates as many as 1 million Catholics of the over 9 million people living in the UAE. Nearly all of them are foreigners many of whom have left behind families for work. The prayers during the mass were being read out in a variety of languages including Indian, Filipino (Tagalog), and French.
On Monday, the pope met with Emirati leaders and signed a document promoting “human fraternity” with Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar.
He also delivered a message of peace and cooperation in front of Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince and hundreds of imams, muftis, ministers, rabbis and swamis gathered in the Emirati capital.