(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 23.02.2023).- The Holy See announced the start of diplomatic relations with the Sultanate of Oman. The communiqué with which this new relation is established states that both States are convinced that “the establishment of diplomatic relations serves the common interests of the Holy See and of Oman,” which desire “to promote mutual understanding and reinforce even more the friendship and cooperation between the Holy See and Oman.”
This new diplomatic relation is based on the Vienna Convention of April 18, 1961, regarding Diplomatic Relations, and is guided by the principles of sovereign equality, independence, territorial integrity and non-interference. A concretion of this new full diplomatic relation is the establishment of an Apostolic Nunciature to the Sultanate of Oman and of an Embassy to the Holy See.
The Sultanate of Oman is situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering on the northwest with the United Arab Emirates, on the west with Saudi Arabia and on the southwest with Yemen; it is bathed by the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. Oman is divided administratively into 11 governorates (Muhāfaza), which are divided in turn into 61 provinces (Wilaya), Mascate being the capital.
A population of some 4.5 million inhabitants — made up in the main by Arabs but with a significant percentage of foreign labourers from other countries of the Near East, as well as from the Philippines, India and Pakistan –, lives on a surface of 309,980 square kilometers. A British Protectorate since 1891, governed from the 18th century by the Āl-Bū-Sa’īd dynasty, it has been independent since 1971.
Institutionally, Oman is a monarchy, with a Sultanate system presided over — since January 11, 2020 — by Sultan Haitham bin Tāriq bin Taimūr Āl Sa’īd. It has a bicameral system with a chamber elected by the people, an Advisory Council, Majlis Al-Sura, made up of elected representatives with a four-year mandate, and a Council of State, Majlis Al-Dawala, composed of individuals appointed by royalty.
As almost all countries of the Persian Gulf area, Oman’s Economy is centered predominantly on hydrocarbons , especially natural gas.
Oman’s Basic Law posits Islam as the State’s religion and Shari’ha Law as the principal source of national legislation. However, it also affirms freedom of worship and the prohibition of discrimination for religious reasons.
In regard to the local Church, the territory of Oman is part of the Apostolic Vicariate of South Arabia, with headquarters in Abu Dhabi, and is entrusted to the pastoral care of Monsignor Paolo Martinelli, OFM. The country has four parishes and twelve priests. It is hoped that, with the establishment of full diplomatic relations with the Holy See, the Catholic Church in Oman, through its priests and religious, will continue contributing to the social wellbeing of the Sultanate.
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The Holy See’s Current Diplomatic Relations
With this new diplomatic agreement, the Holy Seed now has bilateral relations with 184 countries (with 182 if Palestine and the Order of Malta are left out, as they have special relations). Oman was one of the Muslim countries with which the Holy See did not have diplomatic relations.