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

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

  1. Very cool that Hillsong came to Dubai. This is a nice blog Rachel!

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  2. Mitchell Leach II May 9, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    This is awesome and very enlightening! Thanks and I’m extremely proud of you as well.

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    1. Thanks Mitchell! I appreciate it!

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  3. Hi Rachel. I came accross your blog while searching for a Hillsong network church in Dubai, any recommendations?
    Thanks

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    1. Hi Mondy, thanks for visiting. There aren’t any churches specifically in the Hillsong network that I know of. Ones that might be similar are City Lights, Redeemer, Gateway, Gatekeepers and Fellowship of the Emirates. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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  4. […] similar to living in the United States. Dubai is welcoming (in some ways more welcoming than home: link) to expats of different religions. There are numerous churches across the city who mostly meet in […]

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  5. I loved this article! I posted it on my class discussion board for my World Religion class. We are on Islam this week and people automatically assume because I am a Christian that I cannot practice my faith UAE. I got to Abu Dhabi in June so unfortunately I missed them, but they did come to my church in El Paso, TX and I was blown away by the concert, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

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    1. Thanks Vanessa! Whenever I travel back home, I always get surprised reactions when I tell people how many churches and practicing Christians there are in Dubai. Do you live in the U.S or the UAE? When I was in college, I attend the Passion conference in LA (https://268generation.com/passion2019/). This year it is in Atlanta, but it was an amazing experience to be around so many young people worshipping God. Check it out! 🙂

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