The Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia (previously known as the Apostolic Vicariate of Kuwait) came into existence on May 31, 2011 following a decree from the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The new Vicariate has embraced the northern territories of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The first Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia was His Lordship Bishop Camillo Ballin, MCCJ, a Combonian Bishop of the Latin Rite.
The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin has the Jus Commissionis for the territory. Most of the priests are Capuchin Friars. There are also Diocesan Priests and those belonging to the Carmelite Order, the Salesian Congregation and to different Rites.
The two ecclesiastical territories have been reorganized to distribute more evenly the pastoral care of the growing population of migrants between the two Vicariates and since both the Vicariates have been entrusted to the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (OFM Cap.).
The Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia (previously known as the Apostolic Vicariate of Arabia) includes the territories of the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen. The Cathedral and the Bishop’s House are in Abu Dhabi.
From the historical point of view, Kuwait was formerly part of the Vicariate of Arabia. In 1953 Kuwait was separated from it and established as an independent Apostolic Prefecture. It was raised to the status of an Apostolic Vicariate in 1954. The two Vicariates in the Arabian Peninsula have been reorganized after almost 58 years.
In view of the transition, the two Apostolic Vicars made a combined pastoral visit in May 2011 to Bahrain and Qatar before the formal transfer of territories.