Pope Francis to hold historic first mass in UAE
The Emirati Minister of Tolerance Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan said of the Pope's visit: "We are proud to welcome him as a friend, as an advocate for global peace and dialogue and as a representative of a great world religion."
"The visit of Pope Francis to the United Arab Emirates will reinforce the peace with which we have been blessed," he added.
Some 100,000 people are expected to attend the mass, held in Abu Dhabi on 5 February 2019.
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Around 85 percent of people living in the UAE are foreign workers, including half a million from the Phillipines, a deeply Catholic country.
Speaking of the Pope's visit, Sheikh Nahyan added: "We know that his visit will inspire us to redouble our efforts to nurture tolerance in the UAE and to avail our country of the opportunities created by the spirit of tolerance."
Christians are generally well treated in the UAE in relation to its Gulf neighbours. In Saudi Arabia, religions other than Islam may not be openly practiced and items belonging to other religions are banned.
However, apostasy - converting from Islam to another religion or atheism - is still punishable by death, as is blasphemy.
In 2016, Emirati authorities arrested and deported three people accused of "preaching a religion other than Islam" in Sharjah.
The two main internet services providers in the country are also forced by the government to block any content or websites critical of Islam or dedicated to other religions.