Opinions about Oman

in a volatile region

Giorgio Cafiero, contributes articles to a number of media organisations about the Arabian Gulf (yes as we are in Oman it’s not the Persian Gulf at the moment). After some analyses of the background of foreign fighters by ‘The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence’ (an organisation created by various academic institutions)  in Syria he noticed there were none from Oman. In his article in the online Huffington Post he notes that “unlike other Gulf Arab monarchies, hard-line Wahhabism/Salafism is not

Red Bull 5Pics opening
Red Bull 5Pics opening

a pillar of Muscat’s foreign policy, which has instead emphasized diplomatic engagement with all actors in the region and a rejection of extremism in all forms”.

Continuing he notes that “According to the U.S. State Department’s Oman 2012 International Religious Freedom Report, “there were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination [in Oman] based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.”

He also points out that “Prominent members of this (Omani) Shi’ite community are high-ranking figures in the government, holding positions such as members of the Diwan of the Royal Court, cabinet ministers, and ambassadors to Western countries.”

Giorgio Cafiero rightly (in my opinion) attributes this to the faith of many (but far from all) Omanis, Ibadism, and Oman’s history which is quite different from the rest of the Arab Gulf States.

Royal Opera House Sound and Light welcomes Sultan Qaboos home.
Royal Opera House Sound and Light welcomes Sultan Qaboos home.

Remarkably he has entirely omitted to attribute any of the success in creating an inclusive state which, so far, has had none of its citizens engaged in Syria, to the current Head of State and Head of Government in Oman, for 45 years – Sultan Qaboos. He has built upon the attributes of Oman’s population to enable most of what Giorgio Cafiero writes about. Other authors have used the phrase “the Qaboos State” to emphase Sultan Qaboos’s dominant role in the country, Giorgio Cafiero takes the other extreme and ignores him altogether.

Author: Tony Walsh

Book author including the current Bradt guide to Oman