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ICC Note: Qatar is an oasis of religious freedom (relatively) in the region. This is a wonderful first step towards full religious freedom. There is still no freedom of Muslims to convert but in contrast to neighbor Saudi Arabia , this is really encouraging.

Christian Church Rises in Arabia

John Terrett, in Doha , Qatar

3/27/07 Qatar (for the full story go to Al Jazeerah) 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.

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.

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

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 .