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Bahrain king receives Pope Francis during first visit

Pope Francis arrived in the Bahraini capital Manama yesterday in the first visit to the Gulf kingdom by the supreme pontiff.

Pope Francis arrived in the Bahraini capital Manama yesterday in the first visit to the Gulf kingdom by the supreme pontiff.

King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa welcomed the pope as his four-day visit began in an official ceremony, according to Bahrain's public broadcaster.

Pope Francis is scheduled to address in the "Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence" today, which started yesterday under the auspices of the Bahraini monarch.

This is the pope's first visit to Bahrain and second to the Gulf after a visit to the UAE in 2019.

The Cairo-based Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, the highest seat of learning in the Sunni Muslim world, announced yesterday that its Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb had also departed from Egypt to take part in the forum.

"The closing day of the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue will witness three keynote speeches, delivered by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and Pope Francis," it said in a statement.

About 200 figures, leaders and religious representatives from around the world are taking part in the event.

Diplomatic relations between Bahrain and the Holy See began on 12 January 2000.

Catholics make up the largest Christian community in Bahrain, which hosts 18 official churches.

READ: In Bahrain, Pope's message may get caught in Shia-Sunni rights divide 

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