Some 615 expats in Qatar became Muslim during the fasting month of Ramadan, QNA reports, citing figures released by the Qatar Guest Center and Sheikh Eid Charity Association.
Of the new converts, some 417 are men and 144 are women, and the vast majority (517 people) hail from the Philippines. There were also 32 Sri Lankans, 26 Indians, 15 Nepalis and 25 people from the United Kingdom.
Qatar regularly announces conversions to Islam, which can number in the thousands annually.
The numerous conversions have to do in part with easy access to information about the state religion.
But many expats who move to Muslim countries may also be motivated to convert because of the social and economic benefits, according to some groups.
In 2009, a Nepali trade union called on its government to investigate conversions of nationals who traveled to the Gulf and Malaysia, fearing migrants were being pressured into accepting a new faith.
However, speaking to several expats in the Gulf, Asia News reported many as saying they willingly converted to improve their overall situations. The publication quoted Manoj Karki, who left Kathmandu to work on an oil rig in Qatar, as saying:
“I was hardly managing to save money from my salary, but since I have changed my religion to Islam, I am now more safe, comfortable, and with easy access to jobs.” His wife, who works as a maid in Doha, followed her husband’s example: “My husband converted to Islam and he advised me to do the same, so I did.”
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