United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven small principalities situated along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf between Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman. Covering an area of 76,000 sq km (29,000 sq miles) UAE has a population of about 2.6 million. During the third century B.C. Umm an-Nar’s culture prevailed in the region. Alexander the Great’s conquests for Greece left a Hellenistic influence. The Portuguese came to the Gulf before 1500 and began controlling trade in the Far East. For centuries the people of the these Emirates lived as seagoing traders on the shores of the Persian Gulf but piracy became a problem in the early nineteenth century opening the door for the British to establish a protectorate in the area that soon came to be known as the Trucial States. In 1971 they became independent and known as the United Arab Emirates governed by a single advisory board known as the Federal National Council.
Only about 1% of land in the UAE is arable so most food stuffs and raw material must be imported. Almost 90% of export revenue comes from the production of gas and oil. The port in Dubai is one of the world’s largest maritime facilities and has attracted companies from nearly sixty countries. UAE is a force of moderation in the Arab world and maintains strong ties with the USA and the UK.
Arabic is the official language of UAE though English is understood by many. The Muslim faith accounts for 96% of the population with the remaining 4% being Christian, Hindu and other faith traditions.
Congregations from the a cappella Churches of Christ are known to meet from time to time in the United Arab Emirates consisting of expatriates who have gone there to work. Open worship is not permitted and the evangelism of Muslims is forbidden. Because of this, entrance into the country must be through a field other than religion. From 1989 to 1993 the Allen Thyssen family and a few others met for worship in a home. During the first Gulf War this congregation entertained a number of US servicemen who came into port.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Lynn, Mac, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.
For online directories of a cappella Churches of Christ see: