Pope wants ‘new page in history’ on first trip to Arabian peninsula

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Source: Reuters

BY Philip PullellaSylvia Westall

VATICAN CITY/ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Pope Francis is hoping to persuade a country enmeshed in a regional war that he has condemned to give Catholics more freedom when he becomes the first pontiff to set foot on the Arabian Peninsula.

Francis will spend less than 48 hours in the United Arab Emirates, which is fighting alongside Saudi Arabia in the Yemen war, and is due to make only two public addresses during the trip that starts on Sunday night.

Although short, the visit to the peninsula, home to two million expatriate Catholics as well as the holiest sites of Islam in Saudi Arabia, is a landmark one. The freedom to practice Christianity — or any religion other than Islam — varies across Gulf countries.

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