Rome/Abu Dhabi (Reuters) – Pope Francis embarks on a historic visit to the United Arab Emirates. Never before has a Catholic leader was visiting on the Arabian Peninsula.

From Sunday to Tuesday will visit the Pontiff Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. In the centre of the journey to the Islamic country, an inter-religious Meeting, which begins on Monday. Because hundreds of representatives of different religions to participate. Francis promotes since the beginning of his term in office, the dialogue of Muslims and Catholics.

It is to wait but also delicate issues on the Pope, such as, for example, the war in Yemen. The Emirates are a part of the Saudi Arabia-led military Alliance. In the case of the attacks, civilians always come back to talking about life. With voltage is expected to be whether Pope Francis will speak out on this directly. In the past, he had denounced the conflict.

In contrast to other Arab States such as Saudi Arabia, Christians are in the Emirates are free to practice their Religion and build churches. The Vatican speaks of about 900 000 Catholics in the country, about ten percent of the population.

A large part of the population, migrants, who came mostly from Asia to Work in rich cities such as Abu Dhabi or Dubai. The gap between rich and Poor and Migration in General are other themes that Pope Francis.

The Emirates want to demonstrate with the visit to the tolerance. Organisations such as Amnesty International, however, point also to human rights violations; activists are sitting in prison. Also, the death penalty – a measure that rejects Francis strictly applies in the Emirates.

Amnesty said that the Emirates were trying to make do with the Pomp of the visit, a painting of the tolerance. “It will take more than symbolic, to address the appalling human whitewash rights situation in the United Arab Emirates,” said middle East expert, Lynn Maalouf in a press release.

After the arrival there will be no appointments for the Pope to stand on Sunday. On Monday he will be received officially by crown Prince Mohammed bin Said Al Nahjan. After a Meeting with the Muslim Council of Elders in the Sheikh Said mosque. Finally, Francis is on the inter-religious Meeting in a speech. On Tuesday are expected to a trade show in a sports stadium, around 130 000 of the faithful – many of them should arrive from the neighboring States.

dpa