2022 FIFA World Cup - coming to Qatar
Christians in Qatar are asking us to pray for:
Qatar is an absolute monarchy ruled by relatively young Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani who came to power in June 2013 after his father, Sheikh Hamad, handed over the leadership to him. Economically, Qatar has rich gas reserves but is also trying quickly to diversify by investing heavily in research, development, finance, health, education and infrastructure. It continues to develop quickly as it prepares to host the 2022 Football World Cup.
Qatar’s population has more expatriates than local citizens. Of its roughly 2.57 million people, only 12% are Qatari nationals. In 2010, foreign workers accounted for 94% of the economically active population in the country. With the increase of many nationalities in this tiny nation, there have been clashes between the local and foreign cultures which have caused concern to both Qataris and expatriates.
The strict Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam is dominant in Qatar, but there is also a small number of Shi’ite Qataris. Many Shi’ites have become successful businessmen, but they are not prominent in government for reasons of security and/or prejudice. Because of the influence of Wahhabism, Qatar has one of the most conservative societies in the world. While expatriates enjoy normal lifestyles, Qatari society is far more restrictive, especially for local women.
Christianity has been tolerated in Qatar among the expatriates for some time as long as Christians keep their faith to themselves. Unofficially, churches have been allowed to exist. After the government granted permission and gave land for a church complex to be shared by several churches, there is now a Church Compound, ringed with State Security, that hosts all denominations of Christian gatherings - Catholic and Protestant. This represents a far more lenient and tolerant attitude by the Qatari government than was known a decade ago. It also makes watching Christians easier since the house churches are becoming fewer.
Due to past and present restrictions, Qataris have had very little exposure to Christian truth. Most Qataris have never met a real Christian with whom they could communicate at a meaningful level. This is beginning to change.