Middle East Misconceptions

“My mama always said life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” – Forest Gump

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Although Dubai is well known across the globe for tall buildings and unimaginable luxury, many people still have questions concerning everyday life. Some of the questions I am normally asked are:

  1.  Don’t you have to cover up completely?
  2.  Isn’t it hard to be a Christian there?
  3.  Are ALL the police cars really lamborghinis?

Oddly enough, the answer to all of these questions is no. In this post, I want to focus on being a Christian while living in a Muslim country. In Dubai, there are numerous mosques, but not many evident church buildings. The mosques’ loud speakers broadcast prayers 5 times daily in Arabic, so it’s obvious that when you visit Dubai you are in a Muslim country. However, what people usually don’t see is how many Christians actually live in Dubai. There are countless churches and services every weekend, but you rarely see a dedicated church building. Instead, most churches meet in hotel conference rooms, the church compound in Jebel Ali, or at schools. Some churches meet several times on Fridays to accommodate different work schedules. Yes, unlike the United States, church services are on Fridays because the weekend in the UAE (and most of the region) is Friday and Saturday!

Honestly, in some ways living as a Christian in Dubai is even easier than in the United States. Amongst Muslim friends, I feel comfortable telling them I just came from church or talking about different book ideas stimulating from friends in church. I never hear or see any type of annoyance at the fact that I put my faith first in my life, unlike some reactions I felt back home in the United States from some friends and co-workers. My experiences in Dubai have been filled with examples of Christian acceptance. Even to the point that the rulers of Dubai allowed Hillsong, a Christian band, to host a 2 day concert in an outdoor tennis stadium.

 

Although I know being a Christian in Dubai doesn’t have to be a secret, it was still amazing to see a packed stadium worshipping the name of Jesus. With lyrics such as these (see below), I never thought that would be widely played in a public place.

 

What a beautiful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

You have no rival, You have no equal
Now and forever, Our God reigns
Yours is the Kingdom, Yours is the glory
Yours is the Name, above all names

-What a beautiful name it is – Hillsong

Its amazing construction projects, multitude of culturally diverse expats, and tolerance towards Christians, Dubai surprises me everyday.

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