An adviser to the UAE's National Media Council, Peter Hellyer has lived in the country since 1975. In this Feb. 4 interview with the Register, he discusses the Pope's historic visit, what it means to the people of the UAE, and how it might impact the region.
A British native, Hellyer also discusses his participation in a significant archaeological discovery in 1992: that of a 7th century Christian monastery on Sir Bani Yas Island near Abu Dhabi.
Pope Francis was given an official welcome today after his arrival in Abu Dhabi late last night.
The Holy Father walked into the presidential palace in the UAE capital at noon, accompanied by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The Vatican delegation was introduced to both the leaders.
Upon his arrival at the presidential palace, Pope Francis was accompanied by cavalry on Arabian horses and was accorded an official reception.
A 21-gun salute was fired in his honour, following which the Papal Anthem and that of the United Arab Emirates were played.