By: Mari León
The 2022 World Cup will be the Green Falcons’ sixth participation. As one of the strongest teams in Asia, they’ve won the Asian Cup three times, and became the only Asian Arab country in 1994 to qualify to the round of 16 in the World Cup. To qualify for Qatar 2022, they obtained 23 points and won seven matches, finishing first in Group B of the Asian Cup with only two draws and one defeat and leaving Japan and Australia in their wake.
Saudi Arabia celebrates Saudi National Day on September 23, commemorating the unification of Najd and Hijaz — two ancient kingdoms that became the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. As a country rich in culture, faith, and economy, the nation currently has just over 34 million inhabitants who proudly celebrate their roots and history. It’s also a country that represents transformation and development worldwide. Due to its successful economy that’s based on the oil industry, it’s one of the 20 nations with the strongest economies in the world, even surpassing countries like Russia. With 98% of its inhabitants professing the obligatory but devoutly embraced Islamic religion, it’s one of the few countries with major religious unification. No matter where they are, the faithful pause five times a day to lead prayers as their religion indicates. This is why, if you find yourself near a mosque or a place reserved for prayers, it’s better not to play music and to avoid noisy activities.
The country is not only different in some of its more visible aspects (where we may see an Arab traditionally dressed from head to toe, getting into a luxurious car with the best technology in the world), but also in its social stratification; despite holding one of the top places in world economy, more than 60% of its inhabitants suffer from poverty or extreme poverty.
Its flag, colors, and inscription, all exhibit the importance of their faith in the history and foundation of the nation. They guard it zealously, impeding the entrance of elements foreign to their religion – such as the Bible – into the country. They also penalize with imprisonment or death anyone who abandons the Islamic religion to convert to any other. Although tourism is welcome, foreigners who practice non-Islamic religious acts in the country could still face the death penalty. Therefore, it is one of the most difficult countries for the gospel to be spread in.
Despite this, we know that the Christian church exists in this country, leading worship and Bible studies in secret. Let’s pray for the Christians living in Saudi Arabia. Pray for all the missionaries that have set foot on Saudi soil and that the families that have lost loved ones for professing their faith may find peace and comfort in Jesus Christ. We pray that the kingdom of God may grow in this country.
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