From the pontiff's message to Egyptians before the visit to his itinerary!
Things are heating up in Cairo this week as toughened security measures are imposed in most areas around the capital ahead of Pope Francis's visit on Friday, with Zamalek taking the lion's share of security priority - especially around the Vatican Embassy in which the Pontiff will be staying for the two-day duration of his visit. Yesterday, The Vatican's official YouTube channel published a video message from the Pope to the people of Egypt, in which he expressed his gratitude for the kind invitation he received to visit the country. Pope Francis will be the second Roman Catholic Pope to ever visit Egypt, according to an Associated Press report in 2000 on Pope Paul II's visit to the country.
Pope Francis will touch down in Cairo at 2 PM on Friday, after which his entourage will be heading down the airport road to the Al-Itahadiya palace to meet with President El-Sisi. The Conference of Peace taking place at Al-Azhar will be his next station later on in the afternoon. The Roman Patriarch will then head towards Abassiya to meet Pope Tawadros II at the seat of his papal-ship, St. Mark Cathedral.
After the long busy day, Pope Francis will finally get to rest at his residency in the Vatican's Embassy in Zamalek, with his full-delegation staying at the Nile Ritz-Carlton. The Bishop of Rome will be holding 10 AM Saturday mass (expected to be attended by 21,000 people) in New Cairo's Air Defense Stadium on Mosheer Tantawy's Axis, after which he will meet with priests and clergy.
"To the beloved people of Egypt, Al Salamo Alaykom," is how Pope Francis commenced his message to Egypt yesterday, which coincided with Sinai Liberation Day, a national holiday in Egypt. "With a delighted and thankful heart I announce that in a few days I will be visiting your beloved country, the cradle of civilisation and the gift of the Nile."
Pope Francis, who is set to meet the country's key political and religious figures, will be staying at the Holy See embassy in Zamalek, in which security measures reportedly reached the level of house-to-house visits in some areas. "I thank everyone who is working in order to make this visit a reality," Pope Francis says in the video, adding that he sends his prayers and condolences to all the Christians of the Middle East.
According to The Telegraph, Pope Francis rejected a proposition of moving in the Egyptian capital using an armoured car, saying that security isn't more of an issue in Egypt than most other countries. The patriarch chose instead to move in a regular vehicle.
According to photographer and political commentator Timothy E. Kaldas on Facebook, Zamalek is particularly organised and traffic is smooth today due to the police campaign on double-parking and traffic violators on the island in preparation for the visit.
In an initiative to assist with the expected parking fiasco in Zamalek over the weekend, Uber announced it will be providing discounted trips to the island on Friday, applicable with the promo code ToZamalek.
Seems like the papal visit will be the centre of everything that's happening in Cairo next weekend, make sure to plan ahead when moving outside of your area.