With the magnificent Burj Khalifa and the irresistible Dubai mall, UAE has a world of its own to offer to the millions of tourists and immigrants who flock to this Middle Eastern country every year. Because of this, the UAE is a conflux of various religions, existing and expanding simultaneously. Islam is the prominent religion practised in the country. Apart from being the largest religion, it is also the official religion in Dubai, UAE. Around 76% of the population in the country are Muslims. Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity are some of the other religions existent in the UAE. A small percentage of the population belongs to Jainism, Judaism, and other religions.
Islam in Dubai
The constitution of UAE enshrines Islam as the official religion of the UAE. It was introduced in the middle east with the opening of Mecca in Saudi Arabia and spread with the arrival of Prophet Mohammed in UAE in A.D. 630.This major religion in Dubai takes up three-fourths of the country’s population, with roughly four-fifths belonging to the Sunni branch. Followers of the Shiite branch of Islam exist in Dubai and Sharjah. Ibadi Muslims are majorly immigrants from Oman, and a hint of Sufi culture is also visible in UAE’s religious customs. Sharia laws guide personal matters like marriage, divorce, etc. Though the penal code of UAE is not completely based on Sharia laws, it derives many components from the same. In cities like Abu Dhabi, Sharia laws govern many disputes. Some aspects of these laws are:
- Punishments like flogging and stoning are considered legal according to Sharia laws and are meted out to both genders in cases of criminal offences.
- Homosexuality is illegal and is considered a capital offence.
- Punishments like amputation and crucifixion are regarded as legal.
- Though the Islamic laws are supposed to be followed by only the Muslim population living in the country, the tourists have to be particular regarding the religious sentiments of the country. Certain activities like public display of affection such as kissing can lead to deportation from the country.
The government of UAE attempts to keep the heritage of the place alive and growing by celebrating its festivals and events such as Qasr Al Hosn Festival, Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival, and Sultan bin Zayed Heritage Festival with great gusto.
Some mosques to visit in UAE: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre, Abu DhabiGrand Bur Dubai Masjid, DubaiAl Farooq Omar Bin Al Khattab Mosque, Dubai Al Rahim Mosque, Dubai
Christianity in Dubai
Christians represent around 13% of the country’s population. The population of this religion in Dubai seems to be growing with increasing immigration to UAE. Both Catholics and Protestants have a significant presence as of now. Christians in UAE belong to different denominations, from Baptists to Anglican and Coptic. There are roughly 40 churches and there exists a freedom of providing Christians with land to build churches in the country. According to the rules of the Emirates, apart from providing land for the construction of churches, there is also waiving off of the costs of water and electricity. The major Christian festivals are tolerated to be celebrated publicly.
Protestant Churches in Dubai: Christian Brethren, the Coptic Evangelical Church and the Evangelical Alliance Church
Roman Catholic Churches in Dubai: St.Mary's Catholic Church
Hinduism and Sikhism in Dubai
Among the other religions in Dubai and UAE, Hinduism has one of the highest representations. Hindus constitute around 6-10% of the total population. The Hindu businessmen from India had played a major role in the development of Dubai and were thus granted to construct a temple in Bur Dubai by a former Emir. The temples are equally shared by Sikhs of the region as well. There is a special Sikh temple in Jebel Ali.
Apart from worshipping in public temples, Hindus and Sikhs practice their religion in their private homes too.
Hindu Temples in Dubai: Shiva Temple, Za'abeel Road
Gurudwaras in Dubai: Gurunanak Darbar Sikh Gurudwara
Buddhism in the UAE
A close look at the other religions in Dubai and UAE makes one understand how the country is not only tolerable but also welcoming to diverse religions. Buddhism is another religion with high representation. Currently, around 300,000 Buddhists are estimated to be living in the country. They have their own temples and places of meditation. People from any religious affiliation are allowed to enter and soak in the energy from these auspicious grounds. The monks have humble accommodation in these temples, where they preach their teachings to the gathered and eager crowd. People are also at liberty to donate food, etc. to the monks.
Judaism in the UAE
The Jewish community is small in UAE yet one with their own religious fervour and commitment. They follow their practices in the synagogue in Dubai which is an exhilarating spot for the Jews in the midst of the predominantly Islamic country. Visitors are allowed to enter and offer their prayers.
Thus, the United Arab Emirates holds the position of being the home to a multitude of religions, with tolerance and acceptance granted to even the minority religions in Dubai, UAE.