The Sultanate of Oman
The Sultanate of Oman, easily accessible from Dubai, is situated in the northeastern part of the Arabian Peninsula. A little smaller than the United Kingdom, its major products and industries include petroleum, dates, citrus and tropical fruit, incense, mineral oil, fisheries, and tourism. Sultan Qaboos bin Said has ruled the country with a stable government for the past 35 years. In this time Oman has built up a modern infrastructure and is trying to enlarge its economy. Five important cities are Muscat, Salalah, Sohar, Nizwa and Sur.
Muscat (population: 1.15 million)
Muscat is the capital of Oman. Omanis from all over the country come here for study, government services, economic reasons, and medical treatment. A large percentage of the population is foreigners (engineers, specialists, university teachers, skilled workers), since it has only begun building up a university system in the last 30 years.
Salalah is situated about 1,000 km southwest of Muscat – about 11 hours by bus through barren wastes. Salalah, the only area in Oman where the monsoon rain falls, is fruitful. At its greenest time in the autumn, thousands of visitors come for the Khareef festival. Because of its connection with the Sultanate of Zanzibar, off Tanzania, many Omanis in Salalah are Swahili-speaking. There are several Christian denominations in this city.
Sohar is said to be the home of Sindbad, the famous Omani seafaring hero. It is considered a conservative city with a traditional lifestyle. Many of the older generation have not received any schooling.
Nizwa is situated about 85 km west of Muscat in the mountains. For centuries, the city has been famous as a center for handicrafts, craftsmen, and the arts. However, it is also a center for superstition and the occult. Silver amulets manufactured in Nizwa are worn in many parts of the Arab world.
Sur is the least evangelized Omani city, situated in the eastern point of Oman. Historically it is known for its famous shipyards, where ships are still being built and repaired. The famous Omani dhows sailed as far as China. The population is very conservative.
Prayer guide for Oman:
* In Oman, 75% of the population follows Ibadi Islam, which is generally considered heretical by Sunnis. Ibadis believe that they are the “true” Muslims, making them even more resistant to Christianity. Pray that God may bring breakthroughs.
* Omanis are friendly and hospitable but restrained. They consider it impolite to discuss religious questions, making it difficult to have deep conversations with them. This may be a result of having been persecuted by Sunnis. Pray for the Holy Spirit to open hearts for conversation.
* There are many Christians among the foreign workers in Oman. Pray that their light will shine (Matt 5:14).
Background on Oman (World Factbook)
The inhabitants of the area of Oman have long prospered on Indian Ocean trade. In the late 18th century, a newly established sultanate in Muscat signed the first in a series of friendship treaties with Britain. Over time, Oman’s dependence on British political and military advisors increased, but it never became a British colony. In 1970, QABOOS bin Said al-Said ousted his father and has ruled as sultan ever since. His extensive modernization program has opened the country to the outside world and has preserved a longstanding political and military relationship with the UK. Oman’s moderate, independent foreign policy has sought to maintain good relations with all Middle Eastern countries. In February and March 2011, in response to protester demands, QABOOS reshuffled his cabinet, pledged to create more government jobs, and promised to implement economic and political reforms, such as granting legislative and regulatory powers to the Council of Oman.
Economy of Oman
Oman is a middle-income economy in the Middle East with notable oil and gas resources, a substantial trade surplus, and low inflation. Tourism and gas-based industries are key components of the government’s diversification strategy. By using enhanced oil recovery techniques, Oman succeeded in increasing oil production, giving the country more time to diversify, and the increase in global oil prices throughout 2010 provides the government greater financial resources to invest in non-oil sectors.
Statistics on Oman
note: includes 1,684,629 non-nationals (July 2013 est.) World rank #137
Life Expectancy at Birth: 74.72 World rank #105
Ethnic groups: Arab, Baluchi, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi), African
Religions: Ibadhi Muslim 75%, other (includes Sunni Muslim, Shi’a Muslim, Hindu) 25%
Languages: Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects
Literacy: 86.9% — male: 90.2%, female: 81.8%
School life expectancy: 14 years