We are Christians living here in the Dubai which is one of the major Arabian Gulf cities located in the United Arab emirates. The culture here is completely different than any of the other Middle East countries such as Egypt where I am originally from, or Lebanon, Jordan or even Syria or Northern Africa. It is an extreme multi-cultural cosmopolitan city where people from literally everywhere in the world live and work.
Life here is work-driven as people work more than 10 hours everyday. Life after work is all about shopping, clubbing, eating and drinking in many fine dining places across the tourist attractive city. Further, luxury and extravagance spending is what we can describe the vast majority’s behaviour in Dubai. In regards to religious life, Friday is the big worship day for everybody of all beliefs. Christians rush to churches from 7:00 am where they share buildings, halls, chapels and rooms in 90 minute slots throughout the day. What’s more, many hotel ballrooms are rented to receive thousands of christian worshippers every Friday when church buildings are not enough. For example, the church I go to on Friday, runs alone 6 consecutive meetings in two ballrooms at two different hotels in order to serve a huge congregation every week.
In Dubai, Islam is supposed to be what mainly govern the laws and economics here. Nevertheless, unlike Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries, life is completely different. In other words, tourism, properties sales and business investment drive the government functions with tolerance in providing religion and social freedom. Further, they called this year 2019 in Dubai “ The Year of Tolerance” as we started it with the Catholic Pope Francis who held a big mass in Abu Dhabi attended by thousands and covered by all Media channels world wide. This is also too obvious in giving much freedom to pray and worship as churches and temples are spread all over the country, women’s freedom in clothes and hair dressings, musical shows and parades in malls, Dubai opera, Jazz bars, freedom to eat and drink ( pork and alcohol), etc. However, talking about politics, politicians and governors here is a hot potato and severely punishable. Otherwise, you feel in Dubai like living in Europe or America.
On the contrary, back home in Egypt , churches are still celebrating the weekly services on Sundays. However, unlike I was used to when I was young, Sunday is no longer a holiday as it always was in Egypt. Friday is getting more popular as a worship day again.
In the Middle East whether in the Gulf where its demographic and socioeconomic is completely different than the old Arab nations, evangelism in public is not very common as you can see in Africa, for example. It is getting more and more difficult with the domination of radical Islam.
Despite all, the numbers of the converted is increasing day by day and the light of Christ finds the way to millions of honest seekers for God. Media and satellite programs played a big role in delivering the massage of the Gospel to the millions in the Arab nations and summer outreach trips were also a significant channel to deliver the Bible to Arabs specially the refugees. The work of God is guiding the church in the Middle East into an imminent revival especially in Egypt. With this in mind, we always pray for God’s will to come into our nations here in Dubai and in our home countries.