A crowd builds up at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Dubai where tickets to Pope Francis' mass are being distributed.
PHOTO BY EXPAT MEDIA
DUBAI – Hundreds of people have formed long queues at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Dubai to get tickets to Pope Francis’ first papal mass in the UAE next week.
The pontiff will be in the UAE on a three-day visit starting on February 3. The visit, his first in the UAE, comes as the country marks 2019 as the Year of Tolerance.
The pope is scheduled to celebrate holy mass for nearly 120,000 people at Zayed Sports City Stadium at 10:30am on February 5, which has been declared a holiday for private sector workers with tickets to the papal mass. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation announced on Wednesday (January 30) that the holiday for ticket holders is part of the UAE’s commitment to the Year of Tolerance.
Tickets to the mass are free and are being distributed to parishes throughout the Arab region.
At St. Mary’s Catholic Church, officials said they have been allocated 43,000 tickets for distribution but more than 50,000 people have registered.
Long lines have formed in the church’s premises since ticket distribution opened on Monday. Officials said they are now distributing tickets on a first come, first served basis to those who registered.
Corina Remedios, a Dubai resident, said that she arrived at least two hours before the distribution centre opened on Tuesday.
“It took me five minutes to get my tickets but we had to stand in line if we wanted to get preference,” she told expatmedia.net.
“It’ really precious, we don’t get this opportunity anywhere,” she said, clutching her ticket to the papal mass.
A Filipina resident of Dubai’s Al Rigga area said she was already at the distribution centre at 3:30pm before it opened at 6pm on Tuesday.
Expatmedia.net spotted her patiently waiting in line outside the centre. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. [Now] you don’t need to travel to Italy to attend papal mass,” she said.
Divina Martinez, another Dubai resident, said she collected her ticket on Monday. She is attending the papal mass with her sister.
Martinez said she considered it a blessing to be given the chance to see the pope again. Her first time to see Pope Francis was during his visit to the Philippines in 2015.
“It’s a big thing specially since this is a Muslim country. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and this is the first time they allowed us Catholics to have this event here,” she told expatmedia.net.
Martinez said her boss at Karama salon, Zahabia’s Makeover Lounge, has allowed her to take a day off on Sunday to attend the papal mass in Abu Dhabi.
The Filipina said she and her sister will be catching the free bus service to Dubai at around midnight to arrive in the capital before the mass begins at 10:30am.
Her special prayer during the mass? “My family’s health, especially for my mum and grandma and for blessings,” she told expatmedia.net. PIA/Expat Media
1. If you have registered for tickets, proceed to the distribution centre at your parish
2. Present your parish ID number and Emirates ID
3. You will be given your ticket and a flyer that serves as transport ticket
St. Mary’s Church, Dubai
January 28 to 31: 6pm to 10pm
February 1: 8am to 10pm
St. Francis Church, Jebel Ali
January 28 onwards: 8am to 8pm
St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Abu Dhabi
January 30 to 31: 7pm to 10pm
February 1: 7am and 5pm
February 2: 7pm to 10pm
First bus will depart at 11:45pm on February 2 and will have regular trips until 3:15am on February 3.
Present your papal ticket and flyer at these hubs:
Al Nahda (Al Ahli Club)
Al Ghusais pond park
Safa Park (opposite MedCare Hospital)
Sunday, February 3
1pm Pope Francis departs from Rome airport to Abu Dhabi
10pm Pope Francis arrives in Abu Dhabi’s presidential airport terminal
Monday, February 4
12pm Welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace
12:20pm Pope Francis meets Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces
5pm Private meeting with the Muslim Council of Elders at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
6:10pm Interreligious meeting at The Founder’s Memorial
Tuesday, February 5
9:15am Private visit to St Joseph’s Cathedral
10:30am Pope Francis celebrates a holy mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium. Mass will also be streamed live on www.uaepapalvisit.org
12:40pm Farewell ceremony
1pm Pope Francis departs for Rome
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