As millions of Christians flee the Middle East and Christianity’s original homeland becomes increasingly bereft of Christians, an odd anomaly is occurring.
Christianity in the Gulf states is surging. Amid a shocking exodus in neighbouring countries, this strictly Islamic region has seen a jump in its Christian population.
Figures show that in both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Christianity was practically non existent just over a hundred years ago. There were only 80 Christians in the UAE in 1910 (0.1 per cent of the population) and 50 in Saudi Arabia, even less than 0.1 per cent, according to a recent study.
However one hundred years later in 2010, Christianity had exploded to 12.6 per cent of UAE’s population and 4.4 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s. Between the two countries alone there are now well over one million Christians. While by no means a majority, this represents a a significant growth in such a conservative Islamic region.
Indeed, this surge is not limited to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Throughout the Gulf, countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar have all seen dramatic increases to their Christian populations.
This growth is even more extraordinary when compared to the mass exodus of Christians from neighbouring Middle Eastern countries. Lebanon, for example, used to be a Christian-majority country with 77.5 per cent of the population identifying as Christian in 1910. Now that figure stands at 30.4 per cent. But even that is healthy compared to Turkey and Syria where Christianity has plummeted from 21.7 per cent and 15.6 per cent respectively to just 0.2 per cent and 2.7 per cent.
SOURCE: Harry Farley