The UAE has dubbed 2019 its "year of tolerance", but rights groups have criticised the country for its role in Yemen, where an estimated 10,000 people have been killed since the Saudi-led alliance including the UAE joined the government's fight against the Huthis in 2015. The pope received a traditional military welcome that included a flyover by UAE military aircraft.
A handful of women in traditional black abayas could be seen carrying Vatican City flags as men in long white gowns walked to their seats.
During the visit, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan gifted the pontiff the act of notary that dates back to June 22, 1963, for a donation of land to build the first church in the UAE.
In his homily, delivered in Italian and translated into Arabic with English subtitles on giant screens, Francis made a direct reference to the sufferings many endure. There are more than 40 churches, nine of them for Catholics. Majority are from the Philippines and India and have left family behind to come for jobs in the Emirates where they can face precarious work conditions.
The pontiff met the Dubai Ruler and Vice-President, and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed along with various other state diginatries inside the palace. They also agreed to seek ways to "achieve peace, stability and development" for all people.More news: Former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho lands surprise job
The document urged tolerance, declaring they "call upon ourselves, upon the leaders of the world as well as the architects of global policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing". "I am thinking in particular of Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya", he said at an inter-religious meeting at the UAE Founder's Memorial.
The document pledges that the fight against extremism must be fought in the name of "all victims of wars, persecution and injustice". He said that, as representatives of the world's major religions, they have a "duty to reject every nuance of approval from the word 'war'".
The senior religious figure's calls come amid hard-line Islamists targeting and persecuting Christians in the Middle East.
Four Arab nations - Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - have been boycotting Qatar since June 2017 as part of a regional political dispute. "You are not minorities", he said during his speech at the ceremony. He also called on Muslims in the West to integrate in their host nations and respect local laws. George Grow was the editor.
One member of the congregation held a large pink poster reading: "We the Catholics of Yemen love you". Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.