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People, Languages & Religions in Oman


Oman is the world's easternmost Arabian country and one of the most ancient. The indigenous population is predominantly Arab except on the Batinah coast, where there is significant Baluchi, Iranian and African representation, and in Muscat and Matrah, where there are Khojas and other Indians, Baluchis and Pakistanis. Tribal groups are estimated to number over 200.


The official language is Arabic, but the minorities speak their own languages, which include Urdu, Baluchi, and several Indian dialects. A non-Arabic Semitic language Bathari is spoken in Dhofar. English is used widely and taught in schools as a second language. Swahili is also widely spoken in the country due to the historical relations between Oman and Zanzibar.


The state religion is Islam, with most of the population adhering to the Ibadhi or Sunni sects. Tribes in the north are mainly Sunni Muslims of the Hanbali, Shafai and Wahhabi rites. A minority of the population is Shia Muslim. There is a small community of Indian Hindu citizens and there is reportedly a very small number of Christians. Non-Muslims, the majority of whom are non-citizen immigrant workers from South Asia, are free to worship at churches and temples, some of which are built on land donated by the Sultan.

The Basic Statute of the State allows for the freedom to practice religious rites as long as these rites do not breach public order. In practice, the government has reserved the right to place some restrictions on non-Muslim faiths. Non-Muslims may not proselytise to Muslims and non-Muslim groups may not publish religious materials within the country. Certain Muslim holidays are celebrated as national holidays.





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