Fanack Home / United Arab Emirates / Human Rights in the UAE / Religious Freedom

Religious Freedom

The official religion of the UAE is Islam, but the government is generally tolerant of other religions and religious groups in the country, including Hindus and Christians of all denominations. There are several religious buildings (Hindu temples and Christian churches) that are built on land grants from the government, and they function freely. Groups without such privileges are allowed to worship in private houses or use the facilities of other groups.

To retain its Islamic identity, the government requires Islamic studies for all students in public schools and for all Muslim students in private schools. As elsewhere in the Muslim world, the government also prohibits Muslims from converting to other religions, whereas conversion from other religions to Islam is encouraged. According to the popular, strict interpretation of Sharia (Islamic law) in the region, the maximum penalty for converting from Islam to another religion is death, but there is no evidence that such a penalty has been applied in any such cases in recent years.

Non-Muslims who engage in proselytizing activities are subject to criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and deportation. In August 2009, a foreign Christian organization distributed audio Bibles and held discussion sessions in Dubai labour camps, but no arrests were reported.

The government monitors religious groups, including Islamic groups. All Friday sermons are drafted and distributed to Sunni and Shiite imams by a special committee, and adherence to the scripted content is monitored. The Emirate of Dubai has approval-authority over preachers in private mosques. The government prohibits or censors certain religious publications and sometimes blocks websites containing what it considers objectionable religious information. These included sites with information on the Bahai faith, Judaism, criticisms of Islam, and testimonies of former Muslims who had converted to Christianity.

© Copyright Notice

Please contact us in case of omissions concerning copyright-protected work. The acquired copyright protected images used on/as featured image of this page are: dotshock ©Shutterstock



"The heritage of knowledge is more valuable than gold."
Yahya ibn Abi Kathir (769-848)

We are a Dutch not for profit organisation (NGO), financed solely by individuals who share our belief in the importance of publishing and disseminating reliable, unbiased information on the Middle East & North Africa region. To represent the voice of the region’s people, we carefully echo the region’s heartbeat by offering fact-checked and therefore credible information.

Your support is greatly appreciated and helpful!