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Heart and Soul: Faith in Oman


BBC World Service

TX Date

6th Apr 2014


Mounira Chaieb


Kristine Pommert

Assistant Producer

Saba Zaman

Episode 1
In the Islamically conservative Gulf region, Oman stands out by its religious tolerance. Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and others enjoy freedom of worship and harmonious relations with the country’s Muslim majority. Interfaith dialogue is a government priority. All this puts Oman in sharp contrast to its neighbour Saudi Arabia, where the public practice of any religion other than Islam is banned. In this programme, Tunisian journalist Mounira Chaieb examines what is at the root of Oman’s unusual attitude to other faiths, and how far exactly it goes: why do Christian interest groups abroad claim that there is ‘severe persecution’?
Episode 2
Ask anyone in Oman what it is like to live there, and almost inevitably they will extol the virtues of the country’s absolute ruler, Sultan Qaboos. In this programme, Mounira Chaieb examines his ‘benevolent dictatorship’ and asks what it has done for the country’s climate of exceptional religious tolerance. We hear how Oman’s predominant Muslim community, the Ibadi community, relates to the country’s Sunnis and Shias who – uniquely in the Islamic world – are both in the minority here. Does this mean that Oman is well placed to mediate between the two main Muslim power blocks? And can it serve as a role model of interfaith tolerance for other Muslim nations?