Oman is in many ways the “Switzerland of the Middle East.” Oman’s foreign policy approach has been very pragmatic, with a policy of neutrality and non-interference, quietly and consistently supporting Middle East peace, while building strong ties with the West.
Oman looks to play a constructive role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Oman was one of only three Arab League members who did not boycott Egypt after its peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Oman has also actively supported Jordanian-Israeli peace talks over the years. In May of 2017, Palestinian Authority President Abbas met with Sultan Qabus bin Said Al-Said. The Sultan affirmed the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, and Abbas thanked him for Oman’s continuous support of the Palestinian cause. In 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a historic visit to Oman, where the Sultan said he hopes to help facilitate Israelis and Palestinians restart the peace process.
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) encourages a negotiated, just, and peaceful resolutions to conflicts in the region and the demilitarization of conflict.
Oman is the only Muslim nation in which Ibadi Islam is the state religion. Ibadi Muslims are neither Sunni nor Shia, which places Oman in a unique position to mediate disputes between the two largest Islamic sects. Due to its large migrant worker population (over 1.8 million in 2015), Oman has a sizable and growing Christian community of about 120,000. Few–if any–Omanis are indigenous Christians (although there were Christian churches in the Gulf region from the 4th-9th centuries). Most expatriate Christians belong to various Protestant denominations, but there are Catholic and Orthodox Christians there as well. Christians in Oman have the freedom to worship but are prohibited from evangelizing to Muslims.
CMEP recognizes the religious importance of the Middle East to Jews, Christians, and Muslims; and works to protect the religious freedom of all as well as supporting measures to ensure the viability of the historic Christian community in the region.
Facts at a Glance
Religion: Islam: 85%, Christianity: 6.5%, Hinduism: 5.5%, Other 3%
Nationality: Omanis: 60%, Migrant Workers: 30%
GDP per Capita: $45,200
Refugees: 5,000 Yemeni refugees
Oman and Middle East Peacebuilding
How Much Longer Can Oman Be An Oasis of Peace in the Middle East? [Newsweek, 2017]
“Oman has tried to cut itself off as much as possible from these two troubled neighbors. So far, it has managed to avoid being sucked into the sort of conflict that has blighted nearly every other country in the Middle East. Oman has managed to stay out of disputes, maintaining good relationships with Western allies and other Middle Eastern countries, including Iran. And it has managed to fend off threats from ISIS and other extremist groups. In 2015, the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at London’s King’s College found that not a single Omani had joined the more than 20,000 foreign fighters battling alongside ISIS.” Read More
Oman and the Arab–Israeli Conflict: The Reflection of a Pragmatic Foreign Policy
“The foreign policy of the Sultanate of Oman has differed markedly from
those of other Arab Gulf countries, let alone other Arab states. Many a time,
governments and political leaders throughout the region have been bewildered by Muscat’s nonconformist stance. Perhaps nowhere was the independence of Oman’s foreign policy more evident than in its attitude toward Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Read More
The Struggle of Yemeni Refugees in Oman: Finding a Welcome Home [The Borgen Project, 2017]
“Officially, the Omani government refuses to give the exact numbers of refugees it takes in, but its officials estimate about 2,500 Yemenis live in the country, many illegally. Many of the refugees have lost their families, or come to Oman in search of adequate medical care. According to the U.N., only 45 percent of Yemeni hospitals are fully equipped. By March 2017, about 1,200 Yemeni refugees in Oman have received medical treatment at Omani hospitals, according to Oman’s health ministry.” Learn More
Oman and Religious Pluralism
Religion in Oman [al Amana Centre]
“Oman is a Muslim country which has an official state religion – Ibadhi Islam. Being neither Shi’i nor Sunni, Oman has intentionally avoided becoming entangled in the region’s sectarianism both regarding external and internal policies. Furthermore, Oman’s internal policies have been dominated by peaceful intra-Islamic and inter-religious coexistence.” Learn More
Protestant Church of Oman
“The Protestant Church in Oman (PCO) was formed as a partnership between the Reformed Church of America and the Anglican church. We are a multidenominational, multicultural, and multinational Christian church. We meet on two campuses in Muscat and we also have a church campus in Sohar. In the capital region we have four English language congregations, an Arabic congregation, a Filipino congregation, and a Korean congregation. The PCO also oversees more than 60 sponsor congregations that meet at the Ruwi and Ghala campuses.” Learn More
Al Amana Centre
“Al Amana Centre truly believes dialogue is a tool to create change in a peaceful manner. Dialogue is one of the most important tools to build connections between parties and groups. One of the priorities for Al Amana Centre is to lift up the role of religion in dialogue. We are supporting especially groups which want to discuss the role of religion in their situation. How reconciliation is being understood in different religions? Or how different religions understand forgiveness or some other essential points in people’s lives?” Learn More