Shia Islam in the United Arab Emirates

Shia Islam is practiced by a minority of Muslims in the United Arab Emirates. Around 15% of Emiratis belong to the Shia sect.[1][2] It is also practiced among expatriate Muslim communities living in the country, most notably Iranians,[3][4] as well as some Arabs, Pakistanis, Indians and other nationalities.[5] Shia branches such as Ismailis and the Dawoodi Bohras are present in the UAE.[1]


The UAE is a Muslim-majority country. Part Seven of the UAE Constitution declares Islam as the official state religion. In Dubai, the government appoints all imams, whether Sunni or Shia, as well as regulating religious sermon content preached in mosques. Shia mosques are designated by the government as private, but are able to apply for government funding upon request. Shia Muslims are granted freedom to worship, and maintain their mosques. Shias may also pursue family law cases through a special Shia council.[2] Most Shias are concentrated in the emirates of Dubai and Sharjah.[2]


Shia citizens in the UAE, a section of which are of Iranian origin, have historically been an important segment of the business community, as well as enjoying representation in the UAE's political establishment.[6][7]

In recent years, a small number of Shia Muslim expatriates have been deported from the UAE.[8][9][10] Some Lebanese Shia families in particular have complained of deportation for their alleged sympathy for Hezbollah.[11][12] According to some organizations, the number of such deportees is over 4,000.[13]


There are numerous Shia mosques in the country. Amongst the well-known are the Iranian Mosque in Bur Dubai and the Iranian Mosque in Satwa.[14]

See also


  1. 1 2 "United Arab Emirates". The World Factbook (CIA). 24 June 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 "International Religious Freedom Report for 2011: United Arab Emirates" (PDF). Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (United States Department of State). 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  3. Cavendish, Marshall (2006). Peoples of Western Asia. Marshall Cavendish Corporation. p. 535. ISBN 9780761476771. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  4. O'Regan, David (2004). International Auditing: Practical Resource Guide. John Wiley & Sons. p. 287. ISBN 9780471476955. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  5. "Sunnis and Shia: Islam's ancient schism". BBC. 20 June 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  6. Marschall, Christin (2003). Iran's Persian Gulf Policy: From Khomeini to Khatami. Routledge. p. 42. ISBN 9781134429912. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  7. Nasr, Vali (2007). The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 109. ISBN 9780393066401. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  8. "Shiites deported from Gulf lament injustice". Daily Star. 4 July 2013.
  9. "Concern over deportations from Gulf Arab states". 5 July 2013.
  10. "UAE urged to allow appeal on deportations". Financial Times. July 2013.
  11. "UAE deportations raise questions in Lebanon". Global Post. July 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  12. "Lebanese Shiites Ousted from Gulf over Hizbullah Ties". July 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  13. Ana Maria Luca (5 June 2013). "Hezbollah and the Gulf". Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  14. Thomas, Gavin (2003). Frommer's Dubai and Abu Dhabi Day by Day. John Wiley & Sons. p. 43. ISBN 9780470684597. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
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