[QODLink]
Middle East
Christian church rises in Arabia
A $15m Catholic church is being constructed in the desert outside Qatar's capital.
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2007 13:22 GMT

Work has begun on the construction of Qatar's first purpose-built church in the desert outside Doha, the country's capital.

Although the country's native inhabitants are entirely Muslim - and are prohibited by law from converting to another faith - the new Catholic church will cater to the large number of Christian migrants who have come to the Arabia Gulf state in search of work.

Costing about $15m, the new church is being
constructed outside Doha, Qatar

Roman Catholics from all over the Arabian Peninsula - many of them migrant workers - are helping to pay for the $15m building, which is scheduled to open at the end of the year.

Overseeing the church is Paul Hinder, the Catholic Church's Bishop of Arabia. A Christian in the heart of the Muslim world, his diocese is the entire Arabian peninsular, encompassing six countries.

He oversees churches in Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen and even in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam where Christianity is practiced behind closed doors.

Speaking about the Christian communities in Saudi Arabia, he said: "It's not an open church. Privately the Christians may gather in their houses in a very discreet manner."

"Of course it's not easy to be a bishop here [in the Gulf]," he said. "But at least regarding the church life it is full of vitality."

Spiritual satisfaction

Bishop Paul Hinder oversees churches in Qatar,
UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen and even in Saudi Arabia
Hinder said allowing Christians to worship freely could only bring benefits to the countries in which they are working.

"The more they [people] are satisfied spiritually the more they will continue to help develop the country, it's obvious," he said.

Hinder told Al Jazeera that often people are more active Christians during their one or two years labouring in the Arabian peninsular than they are when they are back home.

Certainly, turn-out at church services all over the Arabian peninsular is significant. Numbers in the congregations regularly beat those in congregations in Europe and even in the United States.

The majority of the two million expatriate Christians who attend these services are Filipinos, Lebanese and Indians who have come to the Gulf for work.

"We have to accept that we are expatriates in every sense of the word. We are a pure pilgrimage church," Hinder told Al Jazeera.

"The challenge is especially that we are a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-racial church composed of faithful from more or less all over the world."

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.