A first-of-its-kind event took place on 5 February in Abu Dhabi. Over 120,000 Christians filled a stadium for the first Papal mass ever held in the Arabian Peninsula.
This event may be a sign of improved freedom for the Christian community of 1.2 million people.
Many people migrate to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) due to business and labour opportunities in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Of the country’s population of 9.5 million, only around 11% are citizens.
A Growing Church
The arrival of Christian workers has given the UAE one of the fastest-growing Christian populations in the world.
This fast growth means that there is not enough space for large congregations to gather. There are more than 700 Christian congregations, but only 45 authorised church buildings.
Despite the growing presence of Christians, the UAE is the 45th most dangerous country to follow Jesus according to the 2019 World Watch List.
Christians who are not citizens can be deported for sharing their faith. All public worship is closely monitored by the government.
Banned From Leaving Islam
Expatriate Christians experience a reasonable level of religious freedom in the UAE. However, the situation is different for those who leave Islam to follow Jesus.
They are often severely persecuted for their faith and can face a prison sentence of up to five years.
- Praise God that He is working in this nation to build up His church.
- Pray that Christians moving to the UAE will be bold in sharing the gospel.
- Pray that persecuted Christians will continue to live out their faith and find strength in the Lord.
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