Did You Know?

Our passion is to share the gospel of Christ with the people of the Arab world and initiate church-planting movements in partnership with local churches.

The Arab World

The Arab world is a short-hand way to refer to the countries connected by Arab culture and the Arabic language.

It covers the regions of North Africa, the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula.

The Arab League

There are currently 22 countries in The Arab League (also formally known as The League of Arab States). This association was set up in 1945. The nations included are:

Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine*, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
*regarded by the Arab league as an independent state


The population of the Arab world is around 380 million*, and more than half of the Arab world is under 25 years old**. Almost a quarter of the Arab world live in the most populated country of the region: Egypt.

*source: Economist 2013
**source: BBC world service, 2011


The Arab world has the fastest growing labour force in the world. But with an unemployment rate of 15%, 80 million new jobs are needed in the next five years to keep pace with demand. Unemployment affects all 22 member states of the Arab League, but mostly impacts young people. Fifty percent of the jobless are under 25, roughly double the world average. Women have an especially difficult time finding jobs.

Faith in the Arab World

Islam, Christianity, and Judaism were all founded in or near areas that are now Arab League countries. Faith lies at the centre of community life in the Arab nations. The vast majority would refer themselves as Muslims.

Muslims 90% –  The Majority of the Arab League’s Muslims are Sunni. However, in areas of Lebanon, Iraq and Bahrain large numbers of Shi’a Muslims form the majority.

Christians 6% –  Christianity is the second largest religion. More than 20 million Christians live in communities across Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Jordan and others.

Others 4% –  Places such as Morocco, Algeria, Yemen, Tunisia, Syria, Egypt and Iraq all have Jewish populations. Other minor religions such as Druze, Bahá’í, Mandeanism, Yazdanism, Zoroastrianism, Shabak and Yarsan have small followings in the Arab world.


Arabic is the official language in the Arab world, but other languages are often used in daily life and business (such as French and English). Currently, three major local languages other than Arabic are used widely: Kurdish in northern Iraq and parts of Syria, Berber in North Africa, and Somali in the Horn of Africa.

Arabic in the Arab world is divided into over 27 dialects. Almost every Arab state has at least one local dialect of its own. These dialects can be divided into 5 major branches,

  • the Peninsula Arabic (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates) Arabic of the Nile Valley (Egypt)
  • the Arabic of the Fertile Crescent (Jordan, Syria, Israel/Palestine, Lebanon)
  • the Maghrebi Arabic (dialects in Mauritania, Morocco, Libya, Algeria and Tunisia)
    other isolated dialects of Arabic

Mission Focus

The Arab world lies at the heart of the 10/40 window* and has been historically resistant to the gospel of Christ. In many nations of the Arab world it is illegal to convert from Islam to Christianity (or any other faith). Believers from a Muslim background are sometimes sent to jail or put to death to deter other seekers.

Over the last 1400 years, the Church in the Arab world has suffered persecution. Muslims who have come to faith in Christ often live in areas where there are no fellowships or in countries that do not have an indigenous church. In many places, it is illegal to hold Christian meetings or even own a copy of the Bible. New believers are reluctant to attend a church or visit a known Christian home due to fear of persecution. However, encouragingly there are a growing number of small house groups of believers meeting and studying the Word of God in secret.

Only a small amount of the whole Church’s resources is focused on leading Muslims to new life in Christ. Some estimate that there is only one Christian worker to every one million Muslims.

*The 10/40 Window is the rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia approximately between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude and includes the majority of the world’s Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. Read more background on the Joshua Project.