Welcome to another issue of World Wide Wednesday – during the year of 2017, we are praying through the alphabet — once a week. So today we are landing on the letter “O” for Oman. I am so glad you are here. I am learning a lot about people groups and countries I would not have learned about except for this journey and God’s leading. It’s great to have your interest. Thanks for joining this #MissionTrip that requires #NoPassport. We just need to #CareThruPrayer. Thank you for your prayers!
Area: 309,500 sq km
A mountainous land on the southeast coast of Arabia and the strategic tip of the Musandam Peninsula that dominates the entrance to the Arabian/Persian Gulf.
Population: 2,905,114 Annual Growth: 2.10%
Largest Religion: Muslim
Answer to Prayer
Christians are growing in number. The large majority of converts actually come from expatriate workers and usually from non-Muslim backgrounds, but Omanis are also coming to faith in Christ.
Challenge for Prayer
The unreached. The entire Muslim majority remains a big challenge. Proselytism of Muslims is illegal, and
There are no known churches among the semi-nomadic Mahra or Jibbali of Dhofar, the Baluch of the eastern coasts, the rural population or the Swahili speakers.
Pray for a wide open door to the Gospel that would spread to neighboring closed nations.
Pray for the Gospel to infiltrate Omani culture, reaching the many who are still unreached.
Pray for opportunities and courage for Muslims to become disciples of Jesus Christ.
Connecting the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, and the Persian Gulf, the nation of Oman sits in a strategic position. Seas in the north and east and deserts in the west and south, though, have often led to isolation. With an economy heavily dependent on declining oil reserves, Oman has begun to focus increasingly on tourism. The diverse landscape of untouched coastlines, deserts, and mountains has become a unique destination for travelers. Spared of much militant Islamist violence, Oman enjoys significantly more personal freedom and political stability than the surrounding area.
In 1970 Qaboos bin Said Al-said overthrew his father, and he has since ruled as the sultan in this benevolent absolute monarchy. His modernization program and moderate foreign policy have opened Oman’s doors to the outside world and led to overall good relations in the Middle East. Over 25% of the population is expatriate, bringing many foreign influences to bear, but Oman still holds its Arab and Ibadi/Sunni Islamic identity, as it has since the days of Muhammad.
Due to the massive expatriate influence in Oman, people are free to practice varying faiths, and the government has even given land for places of worship. But, it remains illegal to share the Gospel with Muslims. Islam remains the state religion, claiming roughly 89% of the population. The nearly 3% that claim Christianity are predominantly part of the expatriate community.
There remains 77% of the Omani population that have yet to be reached with the Gospel. Numerous media strategies are being pursued through Christian radio, the internet, and mobile phones, and over 2,000 Omanis have the opportunity to hear about Christ each year while studying abroad.
What’s it like being a woman in Oman? I get asked this question a lot. Foreigners with very little knowledge of Oman tend to think we live isolated lives like women in Saudi Arabia simply because we’re next door neighbours. They couldn’t be more wrong!
Oman has taken significant measures to ensure women’s rights in most areas. Women in Oman can work, drive, vote, own property and hold office. We also have equal opportunities when it comes to education.
When I was working on my undergraduate degree here in Oman, more than half of the students enrolled at my university were females. For a town as conservative as Salalah, this was quite something.
However, like most women around the world we have our share of struggles. Having two female ministers and a handful of ambassadors doesn’t mean all Omani women are empowered. Many forms of discrimination still exist against women in Oman.
Drive into any village or small town outside the capital and observe how the women live. There is a lot to be done. First and foremost, women in rural areas need to know what their rights are.
The main issue we face in places like Dhofar is society’s attitude towards women. The majorities of men down south disapprove of working women and prefer their women to be at home where no other male can see them. Naturally, the glass ceiling is also a big issue for working women in the public and private sectors.
There are also some aspects of the law that discriminate against women in Oman especially when it comes to marriage, divorce and inheritance. They aren’t major issues but they matter a lot. I will save that argument for my next column.
Today I am focusing on the positive and paying tribute to all the incredible women in Oman who have helped shape this country and who continue to prove themselves on a daily basis. Happy Women’s Day!
Susan Mubarak is a Salalah-based HR professional in the private sector. She is an avid reader and writer, and enjoys photography and travelling