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Barnabas Update – February 15th 2019

130,000 Christians gather in Islamic UAE

Barnabas Fund, 5 February 2019

An event held in the United Arab Emirates on 5 February was attended by over 130,000 Christians; a startling occurrence in a region where Christian converts from Islam risk imprisonment for apostasy.

The UAE has one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world, mainly due to the inward migration of Christian workers. The country has around 700 Christian congregations, but mainly from the 81% of the population who are non-citizens.

The 48-hour papal visit to the UAE this month is unprecedented for the Arabian Peninsula and may signal a softening of the government towards the Christian community, estimated to number over one million.

Individuals belonging to non-Islamic faiths may worship in private in the UAE, but face restrictions on practicing their religion in public. Proselytizing to Muslims or preaching “against Islam” is prohibited by law and carries a prison sentence of up to five years.