Oman
Sultanate of Oman
September 4
Asia


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GEOGRAPHY

Area 300,000 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 Ann.Gr. Density
2000 2,541,739 +3.35% 8 per sq. km.
2010 3,517,471 +3.28% 12 per sq. km.
2025 5,351,885 +2.55% 18 per sq. km.

Capital Muscat. Muscat urban area pop: 600,000. Urbanites 72%.

PEOPLES

About 27% of the population and 65% of the workforce are foreign. Percentages below are estimates.

Arab 67.1%. Mostly Omani, also Gulf State Arab, Saudi Arabian, Egyptian, Jordanian, Palestinian. Also Swahili-speaking groups.

South Asian 21%. Including Indian, Pakistani (Baluch), Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan.

Mahra 5.1%. Two non-Arab indigenous minorities.

Iranian 2.8%.

Other 4%. Filipino, African, European, North American.

Literacy 67.1%. Official language Arabic. All languages 13. Languages with Scripture 2Bi 2por 1w.i.p.

ECONOMY

A latecomer as a Middle Eastern oil producer. Oil revenues finance agricultural and industrial diversification. Oil wealth has been distributed wisely for the improvement of living standards. Unemployment 12% among nationals. HDI 0.725; 89th/174. Public debt 18.6% of GNP. Income/person $6,050 (19.2% of USA).

POLITICS

An isolated feudal monarchy until 1970; a benevolent absolute monarchy since then when the Sultan was ousted by his son. No political parties permitted, but there is considerable personal freedom and political stability. One of the most socially progressive nations in the region.

RELIGION

Ibadi Islam is the state religion. Churches and church activities for the expatriate communities are permitted, but proselytising Muslims is forbidden. The Sultan has consistently opposed fanatical Islam since his reign began in 1970.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Muslim 92.66 2,355,175 +3.1%
Hindu 3.00 76,252 +8.1%
Christian 2.54 64,560 +4.0%
Buddhist 1.20 30,501 +12.1%
non-Religious/other 0.40 10,167 +3.4%
Baha'i 0.20 5,083 +3.4%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 21 0.24 6 +5.0%
Anglican 1 0.14 4 +1.8%
Catholic 1 1.22 31 +4.4%
Orthodox 3 0.14 4 +5.3%
Unaffiliated   0.80 20 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Catholic C 21 19,872 31,000
Orthodox [3] O 13 2,632 3,500
Anglican A 3 1,296 3,500
Mar Thoma P 7 804 1,850
S. Asian Prot grps [5] P 8 500 1,000
Pentecostal groups [6] P 12 600 900
Protestant Ch in Oman P 4 350 875
Other denoms [8]   22 804 1,370
Total Christians [26]   90 26,858 44,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 0.3 9 +5.2%
Charismatic 0.2 4 +5.8%
  Pentecostal 0.0 1 +12.4%

Challenges for Prayer

1 Rapid social change since 1970 has transformed Oman. Oil wealth, rising education levels and the opening up to the wider world have broadened the minds of Omanis. The younger generation in particular are outward looking and interested in new ideas. Pray that many may become receptive to spiritual change too. Though slavery was abolished many years ago there still remains a 'spirit of slavery' in attitudes, creating another obstacle to the gospel in the hearts of Omanis.

2 The unreached. The entire Muslim majority is a big challenge. There are perhaps a handful of indigenous believers, none professing Christ openly – pray that they may grow and begin to meet with other believers. There are no known believers among the Mahra of Dhofar, the Baluch of the eastern coasts, the rural population or the Swahili speakers.

3 Almost the entire Christian population is expatriate. There are four centres where Christians of over 30 denominations or languages meet and where services in many languages are held. There are no restrictions on evangelism among expatriates, and there is a steady stream of conversions among Asians in both the newer and more traditional churches. The churches are very active, conducting home groups, TEE and Alpha courses. Pray for the Christians to live godly lives that clearly display Christ to their unbelieving neighbours, both expatriate and Omani.

4 Christian professionals and workers. Pray that they might boldly share the gospel effectively through exemplary lives. The Reformed Church in America has had a good witness here since 1890, when Samuel Zwemer, the famous missionary to Muslims, began his work in Oman. Their hospital, clinics and missionary workers have been incorporated into the government health service. Christians also have a strong presence in the education and business sectors. Pray that by all means the gospel may be proclaimed through a pure lifestyle and fervent witness. Pray that their numbers may be increased through the calling of others. Pray also for perseverance and tenacity.

5 Other means of witness:

a) The Bible Society has a good ministry in distributing the Scriptures in many languages to the expatriate communities. They now inhabit a newly built Bible Centre, including a bookshop. Distribution of Christian literature in Arabic requires more innovation – pray for this to happen.

b) Christian radio broadcasts in Arabic are clearly heard from FEBA radio (17 hrs/wk) and TWR (10 hrs/wk). There is a sizeable audience, and some have come to the Lord as a result. SAT-7 is making an impact through satellite television broadcasts.

c) Almost 2,000 Omanis are studying in the West. Pray for effective witness to them.

d) Internet use is accelerating. Pray that this may prove a good way reach and disciple a new generation of Omanis.

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