When we lived in Dubai, I had planned to do a post about Christian churches in Dubai after visiting the Catholic church, St. Mary’s. I thought many people may be surprised to know that there is a degree of religious tolerance in the UAE, and Christians (as well as people of many other non-Muslim religions) can and do worship openly. Unfortunately, the idea lingered in my drafts folder and I never got around to writing it or taking the photos.
When I went to St. Mary’s I was really surprised by how many people attended the church. Parking was difficult to come by and the courtyard was absolutely filled to the brim on a sweltering day with people from all over the world, although the majority seemed to be Filipino or South Asian. Only when the call to prayer came floating through the courtyard did I remember I was in the Middle East. St. Mary’s offers masses in English, Arabic, Tagalog, French, Konkani, Malayalam, Tamil, Sinhalese and Urdu. Confessions can be conducted in all the languages of the masses, plus Kannada, Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, Italian and Hindi. The congregation of St. Mary’s certainly reflects Dubai’s diversity.
I may have never been able to bring my “Christian Churches in Dubai” post to fruition before we left, but I just came across an interesting article (linked below) that seems to do the job for me! In addition to what the author describes, other Christian groups such as Gateway Church or Redeemer Church of Dubai that don’t have their own dedicated space to worship will use hotel ballrooms as a meeting space.
Read the following BBC article to learn more about religious tolerance in the UAE.