Religion in Dubai

Islam is the official religion of the UAE and the majority of Emiratis are Muslim. However, the government is a lot more liberal in this respect than some of its neighbours; the right to freedom of religion is respected, and there is very little interference in the practice of other religions in Dubai.

Non-Muslim religious groups can own their own land and build houses of worship, where they can practice their religion. However, it’s illegal to proselytise in the UAE and to spread the ideas of any religion apart from Islam through any form of media or the distribution of religious literature. Those caught doing this can face criminal prosecution, imprisonment and deportation.

Nevertheless, non-Muslim groups do openly advertise religious functions such as holiday celebrations, religious gatherings and fundraising events in the local printed media and across social media platforms. Non-Muslim celebrations such as Christmas, Easter, Diwali and Onam are also marketed by some retail outlets offering specials and selling decorations and foods for these occasions.

There are Christian churches, and Hindu and Sikh temples. There are no Jewish synagogues and a very small population of Jews in Dubai, who generally practice their religion in private.

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims and non-Muslims alike are required to refrain from eating, drinking and smoking in public during the fasting hours (sunrise to sunset) out of respect for the Islamic practice. Those not complying with this may face prosecution.

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