Pope Francis leads the weekly general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
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Pope Francis, who has made boosting ties between Christianity and Islam a cornerstone of his papacy, will visit Abu Dhabi in February, the Vatican said Thursday, becoming the first ever pope to visit the Arabian peninsula. The pontiff, who turns 82 on Dec. 17, has already visited several Muslim countries, including Turkey in 2014, Azerbaijan in 2016 and Egypt in 2017 . The pontiff was invited to the majority-Muslim country by both Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and the local Catholic church.Nearly 80 percent of the population of the UAE is Muslim, while Christians constitute around 9 percent, according to the Catholic News Agency.Since then the Vatican's pontifical council for inter-religious dialogue has been working overtime to mend fences with Islam.
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