More than 150,000 people attended this historic event: the first public Mass in a Gulf country and also celebrated by a pope.
“No. I’ve never imagined. It’s a dream come true for me.”
“Back home we have all our family members watching, we are sending the live-stream there, so they can watch it. He is the face of Jesus himself, so we are happy to see him here and receive his blessings.”
The Zayed Sports City, materialized Pope Francis’ dream of the culture of encounter. Not only did Christians attend the ceremony, but 4,000 Muslims also did.
The United Arab Emirates granted a holiday to all those who participated in the celebration. It was a milestone in a country where there is freedom of worship, but not religious freedom. This means people cannot change their religion. However, for this Mass and the pope’s visit, the country looked to the Christian community.
“I reside in Dubai. I’ve come all the way from Dubai to see the pope since last midnight,12, and we reached on at 2 o’clock and we were waiting for him since then. I feel blessed, overwhelmed, happy. We feel very happy”.
I am from India. I live in Dubai, I have come to see this, I am very excited. We never thought this could happen here. We are blessed to be here and have this occasion.”
From Dubai this young couple also came. Although Brianca is almost nine months pregnant, she does not hesitate to travel with all her family to Abu Dhabi.
“I think it´s fantastic.”
“I think it’s really nice, that’s what they say. Pope Francis is somebody that we never had before. He is a kind of humble person. We are quite thankful to him that he is here.”
Of the 9.5 million inhabitants of United Arab Emirates, nearly one million are Christians. Those who attended this Mass can say that they have witnessed a historic visit and a decisive step in relations between Muslims and Christians.