U.S. group dispenses audio Bible in UAE labor camps

Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:13am EDT
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By Tamara Walid

DUBAI (Reuters Life!) - A U.S.-based Christian group is distributing audio versions of the Bible to migrant workers in labor camps across the United Arab Emirates to provide "spiritual support" amid the economic downturn.

The Gulf Arab state has long hired foreign workers, mainly from the Indian subcontinent, to work on construction sites and houses them in labor camps located in the desert.

Foreigners make up more than 80 percent of the UAE's 4.5 million population.

"Workers comprise the majority of the population and the recession has probably hit those folks the hardest," Malcolm Montgomery, a representative of Faith Comes By Hearing, told Reuters by telephone from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Montgomery said the group, which has set its focus on camps around Dubai, recognized "the plight of workers" in the emirate.

Dubai, a financial and trade hub that is part of the seven-member UAE federation, has been hard hit by a property sector slump and major job losses.

The once-booming emirate is more liberal than its Gulf neighbors and allows broader religious freedoms, with churches and temples permitted to operate in non-descript buildings.

Montgomery said his group works with the UAE's Bible Society to deliver scriptures to the poor and illiterate in their native tongue.   Continued...