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Pope Francis makes historic Middle East visit

Pope Francis welcomed by Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan upon his arrival in the UAE capital on Sunday.
Pope Francis is welcomed by Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, upon his arrival in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday. Photo: Andrew Medichini/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, becoming the first pontiff to visit the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam, amid efforts by the Vatican to promote tolerance and peace with the Muslim world.

Why it matters: The pope's visit comes as the UAE has backed a Saudi Arabian-led coalition in Yemen's civil war, exacerbating a dire humanitarian crisis, though the New York Times notes that Francis is not likely to mention Yemen publicly. His trip will focus heavily on the Emirates' commitment to religious tolerance in the region, which has seen Christians persecuted for their faith in recent decades.

Go deeper: The world's worst humanitarian crisis, by the numbers