Pope Francis met with the United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Monday, the start of a historic trip as the first head of the Catholic Church to set foot on the Arabian Peninsula.
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s Vice President and ruler of Dubai, also attended the meeting at the presidential palace in the capital Abu Dhabi, which took place after the pope was welcomed with military honours and a flying squadron.
Later, the pope will hold a meeting with a council of Muslim elders in the Sheikh Zayed Mosque before speaking at an inter-religious meeting attended by hundreds of representatives from different faiths.
On Tuesday, roughly 130,000 worshippers are expected to gather in a sports stadium, many coming from neighbouring countries, for an open-air Mass with the pope.
Francis, since becoming pope, has called for more dialogue between Muslims and Catholics.
The UAE is an Islamic country, with migrants, mainly from Asia, making up the majority of the population.(NAN)