The morning sunlight; with its wings stitched,
Giving a smile to our faces;
Those old stories of brave hearts, paving way to our dreamlands;
At heaven’s abode, dressed in gold;
Like a goddess; stands DUBAI !!
(Extract from the song ‘Dubai’ from the malyalam movie ‘Jacobinte Swargarajyam’)
Dubai- a global city, business hub and the most populous state of UAE is home to over half a million Christians and counting. Shocking, yet true this Muslim majority state guarantees religious freedom with 35 Christian churches being granted land by the nation’s ruling families. Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Matoum- the then Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE granted permission and personally laid down the foundation stone at St Mary’s Church, Oud Metha in Dubai in the year 1966. When the parish outgrew the old church, the new St Mary’s church was built in 1989 to seat 1,700. St. Mary’s which now sits in the heartland of Dubai conducts seven masses in various languages that caters to 400,000 parishioners.
About 35 km southwest to the city of Jebel Ali – the world’s ninth busiest port, sits St Francis keeping pace with it’s ever growing parishioners. Stronghold to many converts, every week5 children get baptized on an average with over 50 marriages being solemnized every year. Regardless of other expensive ventures, the Church’s activities attract the people of Dubai when one is off work. As reported in Mattersindia Fr. Reinhold Sahner, parish priest at St Francis has said, “Christianity and Islam are entering into an astonishing level of cooperation in Dubai, but there is still one area that needs improvement which is inter-religious dialogue.” Besides Dubai, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar consists of 14 % Christians, while Oman and Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest cities(Mecca and Medina) are 6 % and 4 % Christian rich emirates respectively.
According to Wikipedia British preacher Rv. Andrew Thompson has said,” United Arab Emirates is one of the most tolerant places in the world towards Christians and it is easier to be a Christian in the UAE, than in the UK.” However,conversion to a non-Islamic religion is not recognized and is even punishable by death. But according to the US State Department’s 2014 “International Religious Freedom Report”, the death penalty is never applied. Fr. Sahner further added, “Filipino, Pakistani and African guest workers make up a very high percentage of this community. For them practicing their faith in our church is a piece of home.”
Home where my heart is form,
Home where you can be always be found,
Home where the heart can bloom,
Come to the place I call home.
Source:- Matters India, Boy Dubai, Wikipedia