In a historic moment for interfaith relations in the United Arab Emirates, Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the Gulf state on Feb. 3 for the first time.
The Vatican announced the visit in December, which saw Emirati leaders welcome the news with incredibly positive messages. The visit will notably mark the first time a pope visits the Arabian Peninsula.
Here is all you need to know about the public papal mass that'll take place in Abu Dhabi:
1. Time & Place of the visit
Pope Francis will land in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 3. The following day, he will attend an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in the evening.
2. Where to find tickets
All entries to the Zayed Sports City stadium must be ticketed; anyone without a ticket will not be admitted, according to the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia (AVOSA).
The stadium fits 120,000 attendees, which makes the public mass a limited-seat event for the 1 million Catholics in the UAE and others around the Arab region.
As for other residents of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia (AVONA) such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain, the number of seats will be extremely limited as this visit is for Southern Arabia.
For non-GCC residents, registration will take place through this link. All tickets are free of charge and all registrations will close on Jan. 21.
3. The purpose of the visit
The focus of this visit will be on the importance of interfaith dialogue between Christians and Muslims.
According to The National, Pope Francis has actively promoted interfaith relations with Muslims and expressed sympathy for oppressed minorities in the Arab world, unlike his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.
"May the visit be an important step in the dialogue between Muslims and Christians, and contribute to mutual understanding and peace-making in the region of the Middle East," the bishop who announced the pope's visit said in a video.
4. The UAE, serious about promoting tolerance, sent the invite in June
Home to a wide array of cultures and nationalities, the Gulf state has been exerting significant efforts to promote religious coexistence.
According to Pew, a US-based fact-tank, the UAE's Christian population currently stands at 13 percent, with the number increasing with continuous immigration; the majority of whom are foreigners working in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The Muslim-majority country includes around 40 churches, up from 25 churches in 2005.
In February 2016, Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi was appointed as the UAE's Minister of State for Tolerance, hailed as a world-first.
During the same year, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, visited Pope Francis at the Vatican in an effort to promote "peace and stability."
In June of last year, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, personally delivered the official invitation to the pope.