Dubai's well-known churches and Riyadh's secret populace throughout the Gulf are waiting for Pope Francis's historic visit to the United Arab Emirates next week.

Catholics pray at the Catholic Church of Sacred Heart, a worshiper who is waiting for a historic visit to Pope Francis on January 18, 2019 in the United Arab Emirates, Manama, Bahrain. The movie was taken on January 18, 2019. Retores / Hamad I Mohammed

He believes that Pope's first tour of the Arab Peninsula will accommodate more than two million immigrant Catholics from India and the Philippines.

They want UAE churches to be allowed to build them in good transportation and ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia.

The tour comes as a push showing UAE's other principles of endurance and social reform elsewhere in the bay.

"The UAE has always been: contacting people, religions, goods and cultures, a cradle of diversity between the east and the west," said the UAE government spokeswoman, Jaber Al Lamki.

Muhammad bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, invites the pontiff to meet Vatican in 2016. Lamky said that the Catholic population in the UAE was "surprising" and that it was time to plan.

The Vatican says this trip will focus on inter-religious dialogue and peace.

"It helps the Gulf and the whole world to understand each religion," said Claudia Rumi, Columbia's mathematician.

They attend a meeting with other religious worship houses for a group near the port of Jebel Ali in Dubai and 120,000 Catholics attending the Pope's group at the Abu Dhabi Sports Stadium.

Most UAE citizens are Sunni Muslims, but they work in foreign, offices, schools, homes and construction sites. Half of the Gulf of the Gulf is living in the UAE.

Priests, worshipers and two diplomats have sanctions, even though the UAE is already the most tolerant Gulf nation in terms of religion than Islam.

According to law, authorities are prohibiting non-approved religious gatherings and non-Muslims should not be converted. Churches do not ring hours and do not show visible crosses according to church building agreements, say church officials.

There are only nine Catholic churches in the UAE. Pews will be packed over the weekend, while Parisian outsiders sometimes broadcast the mass on the screen.

Father of the French parish priest of St. Francis Church of Dubai, Father Reinhold Sohner, said that some parishes had long traveled to the church.

"It's good that the Pope knows about our realities, and he knows our problems," Sahar said.

Security checkpoint

While the Pope only goes to the UAE, Catholics are closely watching their visits on the peninsula elsewhere, who are hoping for more acceptance.

Cathar churches have the opportunity but Catholics say they are restricted to their worship place.

The first Catholic church in Qatar, the 3,000-seat Church of the Lady of the Rosary, was built in a federal outside of the capital known as the Religious Complex on the outskirts of the capital in 2008. It has a permanent security checkpoint.

"We are free and can celebrate the group, but you can do these things only in this complex," said parish priest Roly Gonzaga.

The Qatari Foreign Ministry has not immediately responded to the request for comment.

Churches in Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain are also permitted, but ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia is banned.

Some Catholics in Riyadh take part in private homes and embassies where authorities often ignore their presence.

The Saudi government's Communications Office has not responded to the request for immediate comments.

One worshiper said he had given the password to the hidden gatekeeper to attend a regular Consulate service.

"It's kind of safe and protected but I do not talk to my colleagues about that," she said.

Christian Representatives Saudi Arabia's recent influence has prompted Christians to change.

Last year, King Salman met the Vatican's Pontifical Council leaders for a religious conversation in Riyadh. Lebanon Christian Marionite also visited the church to discuss religious tolerance and oppose militancy, according to the Saudi state media.

King Prabhu Mohammed bin Salman has promised to encourage interpretation dialogue as part of their domestic reforms.

They want "the middle road, open Islam to the world and all religions, traditions and people." He met the Anglican church leaders in London last year and visited Egypt's largest Coptic cathedral.

Slideshow (15 pictures)

Catholic Tony El-Rahi, who moved from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia in 1994, said the attitudes between the regular Saudi authorities were changing with reforms.

"They should go with the flow," he said.

They say Catholics do not fly comfortably. But his family allowed Christian iconography to be photographed in his home, and he never feared the religious police who had their wings loose the rules of strict ethics.

Eric Connet in Doha, Stanley Carvalho of Abu Dhabi, Reuters Television in Dubai and Philip Pollle in Vatican City; Edited by Anna Willard



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