by A. Scott Moreau and Mike O’Rear
In this edition of Missions on the Web, we explore what the Internet has to offer in terms of information resources on the Middle East.
In this edition of Missions on the Web, we explore what the Internet has to offer in terms of information resources on the Middle East. For the most part our focus is on (1) English language sites that serve as directories or gateway sites and (2) sites that offer significant online resources. For obvious reasons, many churches, Christian ministries and mission agencies serving in the Middle East do not promote themselves and their work on the web. This region, including areas referred to as North Africa, West Asia and the Mediterranean, has a rich religious history including a variety of ancient Christian churches. Please note, however, that we do not focus here on websites about Islam; try “www.gmi.org/islam.htm”1 for a simple directory of web resources on this topic.
As usual, you can find an accompanying web page on the “MisLinks” site containing links to the sites mentioned here.
CHRISTIANITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST
General Overview. A few websites offer an initial overview of Christianity in the region.
Start with the concise description on the website for The Church of St. John the Baptist in Cairo.
BBC News provides their “Guide: Christians in the Middle East”, a brief country-by-country summary.
The Middle East Network Information Center (MENIC) has a brief page of links to Christian sites in its directory.
Adherents.com shows the number of adherents for any church or religious group in any country; you can search by region, country or religion.
The US Department of State issues annual reports on International Religious Freedom; select a year (on the left-hand side of the screen), scroll down to “Near East and North Africa” and click on a country name to read the report.
Protestant/Evangelical Christian Ministry. Narrowing our search to sites devoted to evangelical or protestant ministry, the Arabic Bible Outreach site provides the Arabic Bible in audio as well as downloadable MS Word and PDF files. Their “Guide to the Arab World” serves as a tourist guide to each country and includes a briefing on the state of the evangelical church in each country along with links to churches and other resource sites. They offer a Directory of Arabic Christian Churches and a Directory of Arabic Christian Websites.
The Arabic Mission offers news, video clips, radio programs and a page of links to Arabic songs, audio messages and Arabic Christian books.
Arabic Christian Books is an online bookstore for Arabic-speaking Christians.
The Arabic Bible Online site makes various versions of the scriptures available online. They also have a page on seminaries in the region; scroll down to the “Middle East” subheading and click on “Arab Evangelical Theological Seminaries” for contact information and links to their websites.
A few evangelical ministries have a public presence on the web. Middle East Christian Outreach (MECO, is an interdenominational, international, evangelical fellowship devoted to helping Middle Eastern churches engage in effective local and cross-cultural mission.
SAT-7, the Christian television broadcasting ministry for audiences in the Middle East and North Africa, provides a description of their programs and broadcast schedule.
“Middle East Bible Outreach” is a North American ministry seeking to help westerners better understand the Arab World.
Other Christian Churches.
For information on more historical Christian churches, start with Columbia University’s page Christianity in the Middle East.
Another site by the same name focuses on the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt, The Syrian Orthodox Church, the Maronite Catholic Church of Lebanon and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Also note the following church sites:
Coptic Orthodox Church Network;
Armenian Apostolic Church Library Online;
Nestorian.org, the unofficial website of the Nestorian Church;
Al-Bushra, an Arab American Roman Catholic Community; and
International Maronite Foundation, “dedicated to the preservation of Christianity and the perpetuation of the heritage and traditions of the Maronite Church of Lebanon and the Middle East.”
REGION AND COUNTRY INFORMATION
Several websites offer informative overviews of Middle Eastern countries. Wikipedia’s Middle East pageis a good place to start.
BBC Country Profiles provide a “guide to history, politics and economic background of countries and territories, and background on key institutions.”
The World Factbook gives “information on geography, people, government, transportation, economy, communications, military and transnational issues” from a US government perspective.
For more extensive information, try The Library of Congress Country Studies; selecting a country from the pick list on the home page takes you to an extensive set of links for that country, as well as a dedicated search engine for the country (for instance, you can search for the word “Christian” within all of the documents in the Egypt country study).
At the Webteka site, clicking on Africa (or Asia) on the map on the home page takes you to a summary table of the countries on that continent. Clicking on one of the links in the “Search Engines & Directories” column gives links to a variety of resources related to that country.
Worldstats presents an alphabetical list of countries; clicking on a country name takes you to statistics and profile information about the country along with links to other related sites.
CountryReports.org has well-written country profiles, but most of the information is only available via subscription (a personal account costs ten dollars per year).
The Eldis Country Profiles serves as a “gateway to development information” and includes economic, political and environmental issues; select a country name from the Country Profiles list on the right-hand side to display links to the full text of related documents and other websites.
Nations Online provides extensive country profiles along with links to other websites for each country; it describes itself as “a more or less objective guide to the world, a statement for the peaceful, nonviolent coexistence of nations.”
At the Worldwide Governments on the WWW site, click on a country name to display a portal of links to official government sites as well as additional political sites, country profiles and tourist information sites.
Likewise, the University of Michigan’s “Foreign Governments: Middle East and North Africa” site links to numerous official government information sites for each country.
“City Population” contains statistical tables of the cities of each country, including population and area data as well as a country map showing city locations.
“Joshua Project” provides an excellent portal to the ethno-linguistic peoples of the world. In the “Region Listing” window, select “Middle East and North Africa” and click on the “Select” button. Clicking on a country name will display information about a list of the peoples living in that country, and then clicking on a specific people name displays further profile information. You can freely download the database information as an Excel spreadsheet.
There is an abundance of material on the web to support Middle East research. To begin with, the “Encyclopaedia of the Orient” describes itself as “The only encyclopaedia for North Africa and the Middle East.”
The “Open Directory Project” “is the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the web” with “nearly seventy-two thousand editors covering nearly 600,000 categories”; clicking on a country name displays an extensive directory of links grouped in more than a dozen categories.
“MENIC” is structured as a typical Internet directory, with an extensive set of categories and multiple levels of sub-categories pointing to Middle East-related websites and databases. Essentially the same site is also presented as the “Middle Eastern Studies” section of the World Wide Web Virtual Library; both are hosted by the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
“Find Articles” gives access to some ten million articles from leading academic, industry and general interest publications; you can limit your search to free articles only if you wish.
The “Africa and the Near East section” of the Repositories of Primary Sources is organized by country and gives access to research center websites of “manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs and other primary sources for the research scholar.”
To search the “Billy Graham Center Archives”, enter a word or phrase, such as “Middle East” (without the quotes), into the search engine.
The “Middle East page” of The WWW Virtual Library: International Affairs Resources—Middle East site provides a wide variety of links.
The German-based “MENALIB” (Middle East Virtual Library; links to vast collections of research resources, including books and periodicals, periodical content databases, the ALMISBAH database of online resources and a database of conferences and events.
The “Pars Times Middle East Resource Guide” is a gateway to free resources available on the web “mainly targeted for researchers, scholars and investors.”
“Arab Decision” claims to be “the most comprehensive database in the Arab World” of governmental, economic and educational institutions and their leaders; select a country from the pick list, or search for an institution or an individual person to view a brief biography.
The annual “Arab Human Development Report”, sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme, “builds on the wealth of Arab knowledge and insight, to offer new tools and indexes to measure progress and deficits beyond basic needs… targeted to people-centered development”; the most recent edition (2004) is 248 pages and can be downloaded for ten dollars.
Excellent collections of Middle East research resources are housed at university libraries; we can list only a few samples here.
Columbia University’s “Middle East Studies Internet Resources” offers online catalogs, bibliographies, electronic journal archives, art exhibits, information on scholarly organizations and links to directories and other Middle East-related websites.
Additional valuable research collections and directories can be found at:
• UCLA Library Collections and Internet Resources “Middle Eastern, Armenian and Central Asian Studies”;
• University of California Santa Barbara’s Internet Resources for “Middle East and Islamic Studies”;
• University of Delaware’s Internet Resources for “Middle Eastern Studies”;
• University of Pennsylvania’s “Middle East Resources”;
• University of Utah’s “Middle East North Africa Internet Resource Guide”; and
The “Middle East on the Internet”, hosted by the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies of the University of Bergen, Norway, provides a global directory of university Middle Eastern programs and information collections.
NEWS AND GENERAL INFORMATION
Web directories can serve as excellent starting places for access to popular information related to the Middle East. “Arab.Net” aims “to provide the most comprehensive online resource on the Arab world, primarily dealing with countries in the Middle East and North Africa.”
To find leading news sources in the Middle East, go to the “Arab World News & Media Database” site. It is organized by country and includes links to daily, weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines, as well as radio and televisions sites; you can search by country, media and language.
Columbia University’s “Electronic Journals and Newspapers on the Middle East” has a more scholarly-focused set of links.
On a more popular level, “LexicOrient” is a country by country travel guide with links to news and other websites for each country.
“Arab News”, published in Saudi Arabia, bills itself as the Middle East’s leading English language daily newspaper.
“Al Bawaba” claims to be the “top content website in the Arab world, featuring round-the-clock news on politics, sports, entertainment, satire and much, much more.”
“Al-Bab” provides the latest news from across the region, as well as country profiles, reference materials and numerous special topics.
Other leading regional news outlets include the “Middle East Times—International Edition” published in Cyprus, and the “Middle East News & World Report”.
Western-based media have online sites dedicated to news of the Middle East, including:
• “BBC News”;
• “New York Times”; and
As always, please let us know if you have other related sites you would like to see added to the Middle East page of “MisLinks”.
1. URLs in this article assume a beginning http://.
A. Scott Moreau is editor of EMQ and chair of Intercultural Studies at Wheaton College (Wheaton, Ill.). His email address is A.S.Moreau@wheaton.edu and the Wheaton Missions Department web address is www.wheaton.edu/intr
Mike O’Rear is the president of Global Mapping International (Colorado Springs, Colo.), which is dedicated to providing access to information for church and mission leaders, especially in the Majority World. He also serves as Lausanne senior associate for information technology. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and the GMI web address is www.gmi.org
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