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Religious tolerance aids the Gulf’s expats and rulers

Tuesday, February 5, 2019


The pope’s trip highlights the efforts of several Gulf countries to brand themselves as religiously tolerant. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are also hoping that the promotion of tolerance will be good for their relations with the United States and Europe, changing perceptions that they have fostered radicalism.


  • Saudi Arabia will make its moves more slowly and cautiously than other Gulf states.
  • Saudi religious conservatives may object to visits by priests, although their objections are unlikely to be loudly voiced.
  • Abu Dhabi and Riyadh will highlight progress on religious freedom to distract from the Yemen war and (for the latter) the Khashoggi affair.
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