New York, November 13, 2017
Maronite Patriarch lands in Saudi Arabia in historic first visit
This visit is considered historic because it marks the first Maronite Patriarch to visit the kingdom and is occurring in the midst of soaring tensions in Lebanon as part of the larger regional Saudi-Iranian proxy war. The importance of the visit of one of the Middle East’s most prominent minority religious figures to the Kingdom cannot be understated.
During his trip, Patriarch al-Ra’i is scheduled to meet with the Lebanese expatriate community at the Lebanese Embassy’s headquarters in Riyadh today. Tomorrow, the Patriarch will be meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
There are believed to be at least 2 million Christians, mostly migrant workers from the Philippines, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, in the country. There are no official churches in Saudi Arabia, with Christians generally only worshiping in private homes that are often targeted in raids.