76% of the population in the United Arab Emirates are Muslim. Perhaps not surprising to most but a lesser known fact is that the nation also has more than 40 congregations with plans for the largest church underway which will hold 4,300 worshipers.
Rev. Thompson lives in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, and is senior chaplain of the new church called All Saints Anglican Church. He says that erecting such a facility is only possible because the U.A.E government has fostered an environment that allows people of different faiths to practice their beliefs. “Here in the United Arab Emirates, we have a tolerant climate… and we enjoy a peaceful and harmonious relationship with our Muslim neighbors,” states the UAE government.
Abu Dhabi’s royal family, the Al Nahyans, donated the land on which the church is building its facility. “The ruling family of Abu Dhabi gifted the land to us and that came about through a high-level delegation visit from the Church of England and we were very pleased to receive the gift of land for the Anglican community,” says Rev. Thompson.
“We have hundreds of different kinds of people [coming to the church],” continues the Reverend. “We have Koreans, we have Chinese, we have Pakistanis, we have hundreds of Indians, we have the Ethiopian Orthodox community, we have in effect, people from all over the world representing different languages and different Christian traditions.”