Introduction / History
Kuwait is a small Arab nation wedged between Iraq and Saudi Arabia at the north end of the Persian Gulf. The Omani Arab represent less than one percent of the country's total population of 1.5 million. It is believed that they immigrated to Kuwait from Oman during the 1800's. The Omani are set apart from other peoples in Kuwait by their unique use of the Arabic language. They also have a reputation for being very generous and polite, while still remaining impersonal.
Prior to 1964, Kuwait was a very poor country. Today, however, it is one of the most progressive countries in the world. With the wealth they obtained from selling oil, Kuwait's rulers turned a desert wilderness into a prosperous welfare state. In fact, this tiny nation possesses one-tenth of the world's oil reserves, making it one of the wealthiest nations per capita. Arabic is the national language in Kuwait, and Islam is the state religion.
What are their lives like?
Because the overwhelming majority of Kuwait's population is urbanized, the Omani Arabs have adapted to a modern way of life. For centuries, housing in Kuwait consisted of small cottages, mud huts, and a few larger homes plastered with cement or limestone. However, in recent years, housing conditions have improved tremendously. The government is using much of its oil revenues to modernize the country in other ways as well. For example, Kuwait now has quality public health services. Free education is provided for students in kindergarten through college. This includes free meals, clothing, books, and transportation. A modern network of roads has been built, and air transportation is also highly advanced.
Unfortunately, Kuwait has no reusable water and must rely on wells and purified sea water. Most of the country's food must be imported. Today, there are relatively few jobs in the oil industry because most of the work is done by machines. The government is trying to provide more jobs by encouraging the growth of economic activities rather than oil production.
The Omani Arabs in Kuwait live in extended family units. Their society is patriarchal, or male-dominated. However, the men do not abuse this authority because they believe that their families should obey them out of respect, rather than fear. The Omani Arab women have a greater role in society than most women in Kuwait. Those with specialized skills are now encouraged to go to school and work. Although the women have great influence over their husbands and sons, public life is still considered a "man's business."
Some Omani marriages are still pre-arranged, although this practice is declining. Children are considered a family's greatest asset. While men worship at mosques, women attend religious services at home.
Most of the Omani wear traditional Arab clothes. The men wear white robes, turbans, and knives in brightly colored sashes. The women wear long, black dresses over colorful inner clothes. Some of them also wear black masks to cover their faces. Their staple foods are rice, bread, vegetables, lamb, and fish.
The Omani recognize strong obligations to their neighbors. This includes mutual help in times of sickness and misfortune, and mutual protection of others and their property.
What are their beliefs?
Most of the people living in Kuwait, including the Omani Arabs, are Muslims. They adhere to the five "pillars" of Islam. These include acknowledging that Allah is the only god, praying, fasting, giving alms to the poor, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca.
The Omani standard is to accept others on their terms. For example, they view anything less than excessive generosity as rudeness. Even Christians are tolerated as long as they are not Muslim converts.
What are their needs?
There are only a handful of known Omani Arab Christians in Kuwait. Prayer is the key to penetrating these precious people with the Gospel.
* Pray that the Lord will send forth many laborers into the harvest fields of Kuwait.
* Ask God to give the few known Omani believers living in Kuwait opportunities to share the Gospel with their own people.
* Ask God to soften the hearts of the Omani Arabs to the Gospel as it is presented to them.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
* Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Omani Arabs in Kuwait.