January 31, 2019 / 3:12 PM / 3 months ago

UAE souvenir shops stock up for pope's visit

DUBAI (Reuters) - Souvenir shops in the United Arab Emirates are stocking up with Christian memorabilia to mark the visit of Pope Francis, who begins the first ever papal tour of the Arabian Peninsula on Sunday.

“I would like to keep some memory of some important events,” said UAE resident Sabu Thomas outside one store in Abu Dhabi. “When I saw the mug definitely I wanted to (buy) it.”

The main theme of the visit is inter-religious peace.

The freedom to practice Christianity is not always a given in the Gulf and varies from country to country. In the UAE and Kuwait, Christians may worship in churches and other places with special licenses. Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, bans the practice of other religions.

reporting by Tarek Fahmy; writing by John Stonestreet; editing by Robin Pomeroy

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