Regions of Oman
Each month we will have a regional focus for prayer and on-site events.
January Focus: Ad-Dakhiliyah
Ad-Dakhiliyah, or ‘the interior’, lays in the inside of the Hajar mountains, geographically isolated from the coastal regions. For centuries it was ruled by Ibadhi imams as a distinct government from the Sultan in Muscat, and only became part of the Sultanate in 1959. It is the heart of conservative religion and culture, and home to majestic mountains, green date palm oases, and historic forts. Nizwa is the region’s ancient capital and cradle of conservatism, and Bahla is another significant city known for its occult power and practices. Bahla’s fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Nizwa’s fort is the most-visited tourist site in the nation. The Daris Falaj (irrigation canal) system is the water of life in the region, and likewise a UNESCO World Heritage site.
February Focus: Adh-Dhahirah
The name of this region comes from the Arabic root, dh-h-r, which has multiple meanings. One is the back of body (as opposed to the neighboring region Al Batinah, related to the root word for stomach). It also means to appear, to show, to manifest, to become visible. The capital of this region is Ibri, which is from the Arabic root ‘a-b-r, meaning ‘to cross’ or ‘crossing’, and was the site of ancient caravan crossroads. Nearby there is a UNESCO world heritage site of 3000-year-old tombs, remnants of a once-thriving civilization.
March Focus: Al Wusta
Al Wusta governorate sits in the middle of the country, between Dhofar to the south and Adh-Dhahira, Ad-Dakhliya, and Ash-Sharqiya to the north. Al Wusta means “central” in Arabic. The regional capital is Haima, situated along the main highway running north to south. This area is sparsely populated, but contains Oman’s oil and gas reserves and a new industrial port at Duqm, as well as a rich variety of wildlife and unique landscapes. It is also home to the nomadic Harasi people, with their own distinct language (Harsusi).
April Focus: Al Batinah North
Previously one governorate, the Al Batinah was divided into North and South in 2011. The name of this region comes from the Arabic root, b-T-n, which refers to the interior, inside, internal, stomach. It also can mean hidden–the opposite of dh-h-r / Adh-Dhahira (revealed, manifest) region on the other side of the Hajar mountains. It is a fertile zone between the mountains and the sea, dotted with date plantations and fishing villages. The capital of this region is Sohar, which once was the ancient capital of Oman and a thriving producer of copper for thousands of years. Sohar currently is a leading industrial and commercial center in the nation with a major port. Sohar also was the site of the manifestation of the 2011 Arab Spring in Oman. It is rumored that the Apostle Thomas stopped here along his travels to India, and there once was a thriving church in Sohar, large and important enough to send its bishop to the Nicaean Council in 325 AD.
May Focus: Al Batinah South
It has been said that the Hajar Mountains are Oman’s backbone, the Batinah is like its stomach, and Adh-Dhahirah is like its back. Previously one governorate, the Al Batinah region was divided into North and South in 2011. Al Batinah South is a significant gateway from the Muscat area into the Interior, and also into the fertile Batinah Coast. The capital of Al Batinah South is Rustaq, which also once was the capital of Oman and seat of the Imamate in the 1600s. It houses an imposing fort (recently restored) with a falaj (canal) system running through it, as well as a historic neighborhood that is now a museum. This area is also known for its helwa (Omani sweets) production and the finest honey, as well as breath-taking scenery and therapeutic hot springs. The coastal area is heavily populated, and the city of Barka was the site of the 1747 overthrow of Persian rule and establishment of the Al Bu Said dynasty (who still rule to this day).
June Focus: Al Buraimi
Al Buraimi governorate is located on the border of Oman and the UAE, and the regional capital, Al Buraimi, sits across from its sister city, Al Ain. These twin cities are situated on an oasis, and were once an ancient caravan stop for weary travelers crossing the harsh desert. Buraimi is also known for its unique fort architecture, as well as its slave market, which only closed in 1970. It was also the site of an international dispute in the 1950s as several nations vied for control of the strategic piece of land. Some of the underground springs in the area have run dry, but recently one of them miraculously started flowing again, to the utter amazement and delight of the local community.
July Focus: Muscat
Muscat is the capital of Oman, and the governmental, economic, social, and artistic center of the Sultanate. It is the largest metropolitan area in the nation, and people from all across the country move there for work. Muscat has been an important port and trading center for centuries, and has been ruled at different points by Persia, Portugal, and the Ottoman Empire. The meaning of the name ‘Muscat’ is disputed, but one interpretation is that it means ‘anchor’, related to the Arabic root ‘to fall’, or ‘falling-place.’
August Focus: Ash-Sharqiyah South
Ash-Sharqiyah South governorate was formed in 2011, when Ash-Sharqiyah was divided into North and South. It is in the northeast corner of the country, and the easternmost point of the entire Arab word. The regional capital, Sur, was once a major center for maritime international trade with East Africa and South Asia. The beaches in this region are famous for their beauty and wildlife–the nesting sea turtles, majestic humpback whales, white-sand beaches, and good surfing.This is the land of the rising sun; Ash-Sharqiyah means ‘eastern’ in Arabic, and comes from the same root as sunrise.
September Focus: Ash-Sharqiyah North
Ash-Sharqiyah North governorate was formed in 2011, when Ash-Sharqiyah was divided into North and South. It is in the northeast corner of the country, and is the gateway between the rugged interior and the eastern coastal plains. The regional capital, Ibra was once a prosperous trading post, and still boasts a vibrant suuq, with a women’s market on Wednesdays. The city is also known for its equestrian skills and shows. There are many ancient ruins in the area that tell of its historical significance, such as the remains of a copper mine dating to 3200 BC, evidence of past wealth in the mud-brick village of Al Munisifeh, and the “Qiblatain” mosque dating from the time of Mohammed with two qiblas, one pointing towards Jerusalem and the other added later, pointing towards Mecca.
October Focus: Musandam
Musandam is the northernmost governorate in Oman, an enclave (2, actually) separated from the rest of the country by the UAE. It sits strategically at the Strait of Hormuz, a mere 21 miles from Iran. Called the ‘Norway of Arabia’ because of its dramatic fjords, the region is geographically isolated by rugged mountains, and its inhabitants have traditionally been hostile to outsiders. Although growing in tourism, it is still one of the most remote and isolated places in the country. The capital, Khasab was built by the Portuguese in the 1600s as a supply point for their ships sailing through the Strait.
November Focus: Dhofar
Dhofar is the southernmost governorate in Oman, bordering Yemen. The name Dhofar comes from the Arabic root meaning nail or claw, but also victory and success. The capital, Salalah, is Oman’s 2nd largest city, and traditionally had been the home of the Sultan until modern days. The region is blessed by cooling summer rains (‘khareef’) and hundreds of thousands of tourists descend on the area to find relief from the searing Gulf heat. Dhofar is also home to the frankincense tree, whose sap is harvested and dried into crystals to be burned as incense. It was once under the biblical Kingdom of Sheba, part of the ancient, lucrative Frankincense Trail. The region is geographically isolated from the rest of Oman, and has at times tried to gain its independence. It also is home to various languages and people groups, including Jebali (mountain people), Mahri, Bathari, Harsusi, and Hobyot.
December Focus: All-Country Celebration
In December, we will celebrate all that the Lord has done in Oman through our prayers!
A messenger is calling out,
“In the desert prepare
the way for the Lord.
Make a straight road through it
for our God.
Every valley will be filled in.
Every mountain and hill will be made level.
The rough ground will be smoothed out.
The rocky places will be made flat.
Then the glory of the Lord will appear.
And everyone will see it together.
The Lord has spoken.”