Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 12 December 2019

Papal visit: Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi to mark a historic day for inter-faith relations - as it happened

The Pope is speaking at an interfaith meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi

History was made on Sunday when the wheels of Pope Francis's flight from Rome touched down in Abu Dhabi. The Pope's first day in the UAE will be a moment for all faiths to meet and build strong relationships based on religious tolerance.

Here you will find live coverage of the Pope's visit from The National's reporters across the UAE, as it happens. All times UTC+4

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06:00 Tuesday's live coverage

Join us here for live updates, breaking news and all the best photos and videos from The National's team of reporters covering Pope Francis's Mass in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

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22:30 'One Human Family'

The National
The National

A powerful message from Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb.

We're wrapping up our live coverage of the Pope in the UAE tonight and leave you with our front page for tomorrow's edition above. Be sure to pick one up!

Tomorrow is the Pope's public Mass. We will be reporting live from tomorrow morning. Final preparations are taking place at Zayed Sports City.

Liz Cookman / The National
Liz Cookman / The National

The National's Nick Webster will be with faithful in Dubai making their journey's in the small hours. You can follow him on Twitter.

And finally, check our special page - The Pope in the UAE - for the latest news, video and photography.

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21:45 Three days with The Pope

The National's Sofia Barbarani looks at the first day highlights of Pope Francis in the UAE

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21:30 What is the Human Fraternity Document?

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - February 04, 2019: Day two of the UAE papal visit - HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Defence (C), His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church (R) and His Eminence Dr Ahmad Al Tayyeb, Grand Imam of the Al Azhar Al Sharif (L), arrive at the Human Fraternity Meeting, at The Founders Memorial. ( Mohamed Al Hammadi / Ministry of Presidential Affairs ) ---
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - February 04, 2019: Day two of the UAE papal visit - HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Defence (C), His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church (R) and His Eminence Dr Ahmad Al Tayyeb, Grand Imam of the Al Azhar Al Sharif (L), arrive at the Human Fraternity Meeting, at The Founders Memorial. ( Mohamed Al Hammadi / Ministry of Presidential Affairs ) ---

The Catholic Church and Al Azhar have pledged to convey the Human Fraternity Document to its authorities, influential leaders, persons of religion all over the world.

Read what they have pledged.

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21:05 Pope and Grand Imam of Al Azhar first recipients of Human Fraternity Award

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20:56 Sheikh Mohamed: Document aims to reinforce values of tolerance

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20:26 Pope Francis tweets: God is with those who seek peace

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20:15 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid: UAE proud to host historic meeting

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20:00 We must reject the word 'war'

The world must reject war and everything associated with it, the Pope said at the Founder's Memorial.

"Human fraternity requires of us, as representatives of the world's religions, the duty to reject every nuance of approval from the word 'war'. I am thinking in particular of Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya," the Pope said during an interfaith meeting in Abu Dhabi attended by Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, the world's top Sunni Muslim cleric.

In his speech, Dr Al Tayeb said he and the Pope agreed that all faiths should be free from the actions of those who commit violence in the name of religion.

"We have agreed that all faiths are free from all the armed entities that are causing terror, whichever faith, doctrine, or ideologies they have," he said. "These are criminals, blood slaughterers and aggressors."

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19:40 Vatican and Al Azhar sign 'Human Fraternity Document'

Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayeb greet each other as they exchange documents during the Human Fraternity Meeting at the Founders Memorial. AFP
Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayeb greet each other as they exchange documents during the Human Fraternity Meeting at the Founders Memorial. AFP

Pope Francis and Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb signed a Human Fraternity Document at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi.

The document seeks to encourage fraternal relationships between all people, bring an end to conflicts and help the poorest in society.

Speaking at the memorial Pope Francis said "hatred and violence" in the name of God cannot be justified, praising the value of education in reducing conflict.

Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb called on Muslims to protect Christian communities in the Middle East and Muslims in the West to integrate into their communities.

"You are part of this nation... You are not minorities," he said told Christians during a speech in Abu Dhabi.

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18:46 'Human Fraternity Document' signed at Founder's Memorial

Pope Francis and Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb walked either side of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, hand in hand as they arrived at the Founder's Memorial in darkness and to peaceful music.

The signing of a "Human Fraternity Document" at the Founder's Memorial, is seen as a historic moment in relations between the Al Azhar and the Vatican.

It is to be a declaration of "good and honest intentions" and a "guideline for future generations," a video describing the document said.

The document will aim to foster peace, human fraternity and help the poorest and most in need.

Speaking at the Founder's Memorial, the Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb called on Muslims to protect Christian communities, and that Christians are part of Middle Eastern nations, not minorities.

"You are part of this nation... You are not minorities," he said during a speech in Abu Dhabi.

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18:30 Pope Francis arrives at the Founder's Memorial

Pope Francis will arrive at the Founder's Memorial – a tribute to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE shortly.

Pope Francis is expected to make a speech at the Founder's Memorial covering fraternity and the positive effect religion can have on the world.

The event at the Founder's Memorial is a part of the Human Fraternity Meeting, which has been taking place in Abu Dhabi this week.

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17:12 Private meeting with Muslim Council of Elders begins

In a landmark moment for interfaith relations, Pope Francis will attend a private meeting of the members of the Muslim Council of Elders.

The meeting is expected to take between 30 to 45 minutes.

The National's reporter, Sofia Barbarani, is at the Grand Mosque, at a uniquely quiet time.

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17:08 Pope Francis arrives at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

A convoy of cars, carrying Pope Francis in the Kia Soul has arrived at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Pope Francis was met by the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif University, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, who welcomed him to the mosque.

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16:55 Pope Francis' arrival is imminent

The live stream of Pope Francis' visit to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has now begun and his arrival appears to be imminent.

The pontiff will attend a private meeting with the Muslim Concil of Elders.

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16:30 Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque ready for Pope's arrival

Pope Francis will soon arrive at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque for a meeting with the Muslim Council of Elders, after which he will attend an interfaith meeting at the Founder's Memorial.

Watch the Pope's arrival and his remarks at the memorial on this blog.

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16:20 A gift for the Pope: the title-deed to the first church in the UAE

The gift is a letter from the late Sheikh Shakbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1963, providing land for the construction of the first Catholic church in Abu Dhabi. Ministry of Presidential Affairs
The gift is a letter from the late Sheikh Shakbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1963, providing land for the construction of the first Catholic church in Abu Dhabi. Ministry of Presidential Affairs

The Pope was given the title-deed to the first church in the UAE as a gift at the end of a meeting in the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid presented the Pope with a leather and wood box containing a document issued on 22nd June 1963 by the late Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the then Ruler of Abu Dhabi, granting a plot of land on the western side of Abu Dhabi to the Catholic Church.

St Joseph's church on Abu Dhabi's Corniche in 1965. Courtesy: St Joseph's
St Joseph's church on Abu Dhabi's Corniche in 1965. Courtesy: St Joseph's

The commemorative gift also contained a historical picture of Sheikh Shakhbut with Bishop Luigi Magliacani da Castel del Piano, then the Catholic Vicar Apostolic of Arabia.

The plot of land is thought to be the first church in the UAE, St Joseph's - then located on the Corniche.

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15:20 Pope Francis' message in the Presidential Palace guest book

"I invoke upon your highness and all the people of the United Arab Emirates, the divine blessings of peace and fraternal security," Pope Francis wrote in the Presidential Palace's Guest Book, after thanking the UAE for its warm welcome and hospitality.

Pope Francis' message in the Presidential Palace's Guest Book. Vatican News.
Pope Francis' message in the Presidential Palace's Guest Book. Vatican News.

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15:00 Sheikh Mohamed presented with a gift depicting historic 1219 meeting

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - February 4, 2019: Day two of the UAE papal visit - His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church (R), presents a gift to HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (L), during an official reception at the Presidential Palace. ( Ryan Carter / Ministry of Presidential Affairs ) ---
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - February 4, 2019: Day two of the UAE papal visit - His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church (R), presents a gift to HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (L), during an official reception at the Presidential Palace. ( Ryan Carter / Ministry of Presidential Affairs ) ---

After his meeting with Sheikh Mohamed, Pope Francis signed the ‘Book of Honour’ and presented the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi with a framed medallion depicting a historic meeting between two key figures in Islam and Christianity.

The medallion depicts the encounter between St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan Malek Al Kamel which took place in 1219.

A Latin inscription of the Apostolic visit can be found around the border of the medallion, created by the artist Daniela Longo, whose imagery highlights the purpose of the trip, human fraternity and dialogue.

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14:35 A flying visit

In case you are flying while the public Mass takes place in Abu Dhabi tomorrow and are concerned you won't be able to watch it, fear not - as long as you are flying with Etihad.

Abu Dhabi's airline will have a live broadcast of the event on its in-flight entertainment screens and at its lounges worldwide.

Etihad is then flying the pontiff back to Rome’s Ciampino Airport on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

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14:30 The Grand Imam who shares a vision of peace

The arrival of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif University, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, is also of huge significance to the UAE's ongoing efforts to forge closer links between all faiths.

In the video below we explain who he is and why he is so important.

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14:20 Who is the Pope's Arabic translator?

When Pope Francis appears at his numerous public engagements there is often one man who is never far from his side.

Who is this person? It's Monsignor Yoannis Lahzi Gaid.

He's a Coptic Catholic priest, and is the Pontiff’s second personal secretary.

You can read more about him here.

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13:50 Sheikh Mohamed discusses tolerance with Pope Francis

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces has revealed what happened once they stepped inside the Presidential Palace.

He, along with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, discussed with the Pope "enhancing cooperation, consolidating dialogue, tolerance, human coexistence & important initiatives to achieve peace, stability and development for peoples and societies," according to this tweet...

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13:05 The Pope's car of choice ... a Kia

In a country full of some of the most stunning cars available to drive on regular roads, it was a more humble ride that Pope Francis used to arrive at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi.

Rather than a muscular Range Rover or Nissan Patrol, it was a Kia Soul that the pontiff stepped out from, having been escorted to the palace by a cavalry of horses.

You can read more on the car here.

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13:00 Sheikh Mohamed marks the official ceremony on Twitter

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12:00 Pope arrives

The Pope has now arrived at the Presidential Palace where he was greeted by Sheikh Mohamed.

A 21-gun salute was fired in honour of the pontiff, following which the Papal Anthem and that of the UAE were played as the Pope stood alongside Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed.

He then shook hands with a number of dignitaries before they filed into the palace.

Aircrafts fly over the presidential palace in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi during a reception for Pope Francis on February 4, 2019. Pope Francis arrived in the UAE on February 3, the first ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula, birthplace of Islam, where he will meet leading Muslim clerics and hold an open-air mass for some 135,000 Catholics. / AFP / Giuseppe CACACE
Aircraft fly over the presidential palace inAbu Dhabi. AFP

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Pope Francis' schedule in full:

Monday, February 4

12pm: Welcome ceremony at the main entrance of the Presidential Palace

12.20pm: Meets Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, at Presidential Palace

5pm: Private meeting with Muslim Council of Elders at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

6.10pm: Inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial

Tuesday, February 5 - Abu Dhabi to Rome

9.15am: Private visit to St Joseph's Cathedral

10.30am: Public mass at Zayed Sports City – with a homily by Pope Francis

12.40pm: Farewell at Abu Dhabi Presidential Airport

1pm: Departure by plane to Rome

5pm: Arrival at the Rome / Ciampino International Airport

Updated: February 5, 2019 08:14 AM

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