2020 WORLD WATCH LIST #47UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
2020 WORLD WATCH LIST RANK: 47
LEADER: President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
POPULATION: 9.6 million
CHRISTIAN POPULATION: 1 million
MAIN RELIGION: Islam
PERSECUTION LEVEL: High
PERSECUTION SOURCE: Islamic Oppression
Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Arabian Peninsula through:
• Prayer support
ABOUT UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Islam still takes precedence
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has put in considerable effort to ensure religious tolerance and to prevent discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, race, or colour. Nevertheless, Islam still takes precedence: non-Muslim religious practices must not violate public morals, non-Islamic evangelism is prohibited, and it is illegal for Muslims to change their religion. Websites critical of Islam, with information on other religions, or with testimonies of Muslims who converted to Christianity are blocked by the government.
The Emirati church of expats
Like some of the other countries in the region, majority of the population in the UAE is made up of expatriates. Only 10% of the residents are Emirati citizens. The Emirati church is mostly composed of foreign believers as well. They are free to worship in private but the government does not allow them to evangelize or pray in public. Christians are careful in their speech and conduct when in public or when there are Muslims around in case anything is construed as proselytizing. The online activities of Christians are monitored, a fact that most of them are aware of.
There are approximately 40 church buildings in the country, but over 200 church groups. New church buildings are rarely allowed to be built which presents a big problem for the growing churches.
Converts from Islam are pressured by family and neighbors to recant their Christian faith. These believers rarely reveal their conversion. There are also several converts among the migrant workers. If discovered, they could lose their jobs, or face pressure from their Muslim colleagues. But the situation is usually easier for them as they are away from their families.
• Pray for Christian converts who are afraid to reveal their faith in Jesus, that they will live courageously for the Lord, and may they be assured of His presence with them.
• When a Muslim woman converts to Christianity, she loses the little rights she has, especially the right to care for her children. Pray for all Emirati Christian women who are facing this.
• The local UAE church is very small and some believers are feeling discouraged as it doesn’t seem to grow. Pray that God will encourage these believers, and that He will add to their numbers.