The parishes, with a limited number of ten priests who are carefully monitored, are there to serve the expatriate workers (mostly Indians and Filipinos), not to be signs of openness to freedom for other religions.
However, the sovereign Sultan has been very good to the Catholics considering the intolerance in many other Muslim countries. He even bought the Church a nice pipe organ.
These are countries that are quite rich due to oil and trade. Both are just a short boat ride from Iran. Oman was simply a desert forty years ago and now it has sprung into a modern country. There are a few Catholic parishes but they are strictly monitored and under the control of the Muslims.
The day I walked over 8 miles along the coast into the old city was a holiday. The traffic was low and many families were out picnicking.
I gave four talks at the Catholic Church in Muscat to packed audiences with standing room only. I was thoroughly impressed with the excited and eager Catholics.
Next we flew to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The Arabs make up 17% of the population and the expatriate workers make up the remaining 83%. It is splashy and shiny, clean and modern, pretentious and not so pretty if you scratch the surface. It is the Las Vegas for Muslims.
I started out from my hotel and walked ten miles to the tallest building in the world – the Burj Khalista. It is over a half mile tall. We went back the next day to take the world’s fastest elevator to the top. It is an amazing city and I got a lot of pictures and videos of the sites, the people and the glitzy buildings.
The parish where I spoke is hidden behind compound walls but it is the largest parish in the world with OVER 250,000 PEOPLE!
Both are interactive maps with videos and pictures. Enjoy!