DOHA, Qatar, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- A Christian church will be built in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, the first in a Muslim state since the advent of Islam in the 7th century.
Construction on the Church of the Epiphany -- which is expected to cost about $7 million -- will begin early next year, but the structure will not have a spire or free-standing cross, reports The Times of London.
The land for the facility in the capital Doha has been donated by the reform-minded Emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.
"We are there as guests in a Muslim country and we wish to be sensitive to our hosts ... but once you're inside the gates it will be quite obvious that you are in a Christian center," said the Rev. Clive Handford, the Nicosia-based Anglican Bishop in Cyprus and the Gulf. "We hope that the center can be a base for ongoing Muslim-Christian dialogue."
Qatar's Anglican community, estimated to number between 7,000 and 10,000 people, has had services in an English-language school in Doha for decades.