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Pope Francis arrives in United Arab Emirates for first papal visit to Arabian Peninsula | UK News

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Pope Francis has arrived in the United Arab Emirates where he is seeking to improve Christian-Muslim relations.

His visit marks the first papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam.

The pope will speak at a giant mass in Abu Dhabi’s main sports area on Tuesday, which is expected to be attended by around 135,000 people.

Some have said it will be the largest-ever show of Christian worship on the Arabian Peninsula.

The Catholic Church believes there are one million Catholics in the UAE.

The pontiff shook hands with an Emrati boy upon arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport
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The pontiff shook hands with an Emrati boy upon arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport

The pontiff will be seeking to build on two of his priorities in the Sunday to Tuesday trip by promoting interfaith dialogue and visiting Catholic areas.

However, diplomatic protocol is likely to dictate that he leaves other concerns behind.

The Emirates’ support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, which has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, is likely not to be mentioned.

The UAE’s problematic record on human rights and labour violations at home are also likely to not be talked about – at least in public.

Unlike his other foreign trips, he will not deliver a political speech.

Pope Francis arrived in the capital Abu Dhabi to take part in a conference on inter-religious dialogue.

The pope spoke to reporters on the flight to Abu Dhabi
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The pope spoke to reporters on the flight to Abu Dhabi

It is sponsored by the Emirates-based Muslim Council of Elders, an initiative that seeks to counter religious fanaticism by promoting a moderate brand of Islam

It is the brainchild of Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni Islam learning that trains clerics and scholars from around the world.

The meeting will be the fifth between the pontiff and the sheikh.

There had been a freeze in relations between the Al-Azhar and the Vatican after Pope Benedict XVI linked Islam to violence.

The upcoming meeting between Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb suggests relations have thawed.

The pontiff paid homage to his “friend and dear brother” in a video message to the Emirates on the eve of his trip, and praised the sheikh’s courage in calling the meeting to assert that “God unites and doesn’t divide”.

He added: “I am pleased with this meeting offered by the Lord to write, on your dear land, a new page in the history of relations among religions and confirm that we are brothers despite our differences.”

The sheikh has described the upcoming meeting as “historic” and praised the “deeply fraternal relationship” between its imam and the pope, which it said even includes birthday greetings.

The pair are to address the Human Fraternity Meeting on Monday that has drawn not only Christian and Muslim representatives but hundreds of Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and other Christian faith leaders.

It is all part of the Emirates’ Year of Tolerance and its effort to show its openness to other faiths in a region otherwise known for severe restrictions on religions outside of Islam.

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British woman Faye Mooney killed by kidnappers in Nigeria | World News

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Kidnappers in Nigeria have shot dead a British woman and a Nigerian man, and abducted three others, officials have said.

Police and the British High Commission have named the woman as Faye Mooney and said they were aware of an incident which took place at a holiday resort on Friday but added that they would not speculate on a motive.

Her next of kin have been informed.

The Briton was working in Nigeria as a communications specialist for aid group Mercy Corps and had travelled to the northern city of Kaduna from Lagos as a tourist, police said.

In a statement, Mercy Corps said it was “utterly heartbroken” by the killing.

Police said Ms Mooney, who worked in the west African nation for nearly two years, had been attending a party before the incident.

A Kaduna state police spokesman said: “Some suspected kidnappers armed with dangerous weapons gained entry into a recreational resort called Kajuru Castle in Kajuru local government area shooting sporadically and in the process shot dead two persons, including an expatriate lady, and took away three others.”

Officers have not yet named the other person killed in the incident.

No individuals or groups have said they are behind the killing and police are yet to identify the kidnappers.

Northern Nigeria has been dealing with a Boko Haram and Islamic State insurgency and clashes between farmers and herders, in which hundreds have died.

In a statement, the British High Commission said: “We are engaging with the Nigerian authorities, and we understand an investigation is under way.”

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Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy wins Ukraine presidential election by landslide – exit poll | World News

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Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy has won Ukraine’s presidential election with 73% of the vote, according to an exit poll.

An exit poll showed Mr Zelenskiy had beaten Petro Poroshenko by a landslide with the incumbent winning just 25% of the vote.

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Gorillas appear to pose for selfie with park ranger in the Democratic Republic of Congo | World News

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A photo has emerged of what a park ranger claims to be a selfie with two gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ranger Mathieu Shamavu says the picture was taken at Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A spokesperson for the park told Sky News the pair both lived in a specially designed unit which cares for gorilla orphans who have been victimised by poachers or animal traffickers.

Mr Shamavu described his captivating composition as just “another day in the office”.

He is part of the park’s Elite Anti-Poaching Units And Combat Trackers group, which is tasked with protecting the animals.

A team of more than 600 rangers undergoes “intensive training, risking their lives on a daily basis to safeguard the park’s exceptional wildlife”, according to the Virunga National Park website.

Around one third of the world’s population of critically endangered mountain gorillas live in the park’s lush volcanic forests.

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The rangers have previously posted several photos of them exceptionally close to gorillas.

A Virunga National Park spokesperson said the pair were “friendly” because they were used to human contact in the Senkwekwe Centre for Gorilla Orphans.

Yvonne Ndege, a spokesperson for UNHCR Kenya, re-posted the image on Twitter, writing: “Selfie of the Year no question!”

Thousands of people responded to the image on Facebook, with one user saying: “Wow, that is an awesome office you’ve got there. Stay safe and thank you for the amazing work you do.”

Another user simply said: “Now that’s a selfie!”

With the photograph being shared thousands of times across social media, supporters have urged people to “make a difference” and donate to Virunga’s conservation efforts.

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