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01/19/2019 UAE (International Christian Concern) –   Pope Francis is preparing for the first papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula next month by attending an international interreligious conference in the United Arab Emirates. He is scheduled to be in the UAE from February 3 – 5. On his last day, he will celebrate a public Mass.

No pope has ever visited the Arabian Peninsula before. Security in the Middle East has been a main concern, and is why the pope turned down a visitation to Iraq earlier this month. Heavy restrictions on the public practice of Christianity has also proven a barrier, preventing many Christians from enjoying religious freedom.

The Arabian Peninsula, including the UAE, is primarily Islamic. Expats make up a large portion of those who are Christian, although some local believers do exist. In each of these countries, conducting Christian outreach to Muslims is highly sensitive and can lead to imprisonment. For local and expat Christians throughout the Arabian Peninsula, discrimination remains rampant. In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, intense persecution has forced the church underground.

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