United Arab Emirates Facts

Score: 60/ 100
Region: Middle East
Persecution Type: Islamic oppression
Persecution Level: High
Population: 9,542,000
Christians: 1,226,000
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Federation of monarchies
Leader: President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

Profile of Persecution

Violence 7%
Church Life 75%
National Life 67%
Community Life 57%
Family Life 78%
Private Life 77%

Unable to express faith publicly

Christian expatriates are free to worship privately in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but the government does not allow them to evangelize or pray in public. Because Emirati society is conservative, Christians exercise self-restraint in public. Converts from Islam often face pressure from family and community members to renounce their Christian faith. Converts tend not to reveal their conversion, which is why there are few reports of Christians being killed or harmed for their faith.

How Christians are suffering

Conservative Islamic society is the biggest threat to Christians in the United Arab Emirates. All converts risk losing inheritance and parental rights, being forced to marry, being fired or placed under pressure to work for “free.” Many seek asylum in another country. The government will act against any Christians attempting to speak openly about their faith, because evangelism is illegal and punishable under the law.

Examples of persecution

At least one female convert was threatened with forced marriage and some converts were forced to flee to another emirate because of pressure.

There were also some converts who were placed under financial pressure and forced to renounce their faith.

Because Islamic education is compulsory for all students within state schools, the children of converts must participate in Islamic education classes.

Population and number of Christian statistics: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2019).


Pray for United Arab Emirates

  • Imagine that your fellowship group has had the same three members for a long time. The passion and the hope to have an impact for Christ in society can diminish. Pray God blesses the Emirati believers with new brothers and sisters with whom to share fellowship.
  • Pray for leaders of the UAE to rule with wisdom and tolerance and to allow citizens to change their faith.
  • Pray that the government will be able to keep the country safe from insurgents and terrorist groups. One important way to do this is to provide policies that encourage young people to be motivated to work hard for the good of their country.

Stories from United Arab Emirates

May 19, 2020

Don’t waste COVID-19: Lessons from believers in the Arabian Peninsula

Christians in the West have had to discover how to worship God in isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. But for believers in the Arabian Peninsula, being a secret Christian is nothing new. Read More


March 6, 2020

A ‘living death’: How Christian women experience persecution

A new 2020 Open Doors in-depth report focusing on gendered persecution surfaces some disturbing realities for Christian women and girls in the top 50 countries where women are highly persecuted for their decision to follow Jesus. Read More


January 15, 2020

Every day, 8 Christians killed for their decision to follow Jesus

In-depth research for Open Doors' 2020 World Watch List shows that at least eight Christians, largely in Sub-Saharan Africa, die at the hands of persecutors (extremists, family members and state authorities) each day. Read More


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