Pope Francis waves 2
Pope Francis waves to thousands of worshippers at the Zayed Sports City Stadium. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai: It was a precision-driven event of unprecedented proportions. Pope Francis, the Head of the Catholic Church celebrated a historic Papal Mass to 180,000 Catholics in the United Arab Emirates, which was televised around the world earlier Tuesday.

The scale of the gathering, which took place at Zayed Sports Stadium in Abu Dhabi, saw people travel hours and days to be part of the event.

There was no scope for error. And as the Gulf News team walked in through the entrance, as morning broke over the Capital skyline, there was no mistaking the air of efficiency.

The gates were manned with speed, security tight with mounted police in place and hundreds of volunteers helping people reach the right entrance or access the required facilities. And all of it done with a smile.

As per a press release issued on the event, there were “1500 paramedics, police and security staff on duty to ensure the safety and security of the people attending the Mass.

“Additionally, there were 100 Emiratis on duty managing gate security for the thousands who flocked to the event – the majority of whom traveled on the 2000 buses organised by the UAE Government in association with the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia (AVOSA), the territorial jurisdiction of the Catholic Church covering the UAE, Oman and Yemen.”

There was also global media covering this historic moment for the UAE and the world – 250 international journalists and 350 from within the country.

As for the mass itself, it was done with clockwork accuracy, right down to the minute, while never compromising the sanctity of the experience at any time. Elements of the 90-minute service were conducted in Italian, English, Arabic, Tagalog, Hindi and Korean.

The release added that it “was attended by nearly 20 per cent of the estimated one million Catholics living and working in the UAE. Organisers worked day and night to transform the stadium and surroundings into the largest outdoor place of Christian worship ever seen in the Arabian Peninsula.”

Once it concluded, volunteers ensured that people were guided to the various exit points and free bus services available – there wasn’t a single hitch, just like the entire experience.