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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06MUSCAT982 2006-06-18 12:43:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Muscat
Cable title:  

MINISTER OF AWQAF APPRECIATES OUTREACH, SEEKS

Tags:   PREL KISL SOCI MASS KIRF SCUL MU 
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					  UNCLAS MUSCAT 000982 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/PPD, NEA/ARP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KISL SOCI MASS KIRF SCUL MU
SUBJECT: MINISTER OF AWQAF APPRECIATES OUTREACH, SEEKS
EXPANDED COOPERATION

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Summary
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1. (U) Oman's Minister of Awqaf expressed his appreciation
for recent U.S. military outreach efforts involving an
exchange of visits. He noted that such cultural dialogue
benefits both countries and advances mutual goals of
promoting tolerance. In the context of Muscat as "Cultural
Capital of the Arab World," the Ministry also plans to host
marquee U.S. expert speakers throughout its Ramadan
programming. End Summary.



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Cooperation


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2. (U) DCM (then Charge) in a June 14 call on Minister of
Awqaf and Religious Affairs Abdullah al-Salimi delivered a
letter of thanks from the Superintendent of the U.S. Naval
Academy in return for a gift the Minister had sent to the
Superintendent via Dr. Brandon Wheeler, an expert on Islam at
the Academy. The Minister expressed his appreciation for the
special relationship between the Ministry and the Embassy,
remarking on the USG's "sincere intentions" in dealing with
the Sultanate, especially in the area of promoting and
supporting cultural exchanges. He said such exchanges
benefit the international atmosphere and promote valuable
initiatives in cultural, religious, and political fields.
The Minister expressed gratitude to the Embassy for helping
organize his own recent trip to the U.S., calling it a
fruitful visit that will lead to deeper cooperation and
relations between Oman and the U.S.



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Promoting A Culture of Tolerance


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3. (SBU) The Minister also cited the recent visit of a group
of USCENTCOM chaplains who facilitated a successful exchange
of views. Such dialogue is valuable to the Sultanate, he
stressed, because "the relationship is not as productive if
one side only receives ideas from the other." The Minister
said discussions with American experts familiar with Muslim
culture are particularly useful in advancing the mutual goal
of building a community of tolerance, understanding, and
respect. He said that the ministry looks forward to
expanding such discussions.



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Opposites Attract


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4. (SBU) When asked why other Islamic states do not look more
to Oman as a model of religious tolerance, the Minister
replied that, paradoxically, "too many similarities often
lead to misunderstandings." Referring to the idea of a
"clash of civilizations," he opined that, whereas Christian
and Muslim cultures in the Mediterranean basin who share many
similarities often clash, states like China and India remain
peacefully coexistent precisely because of their cultural
dissimilarities. Nonetheless, the only sure way to peace and
stability is through dialogue.



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Ramadan Program to Feature Top U.S. Speakers


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5. (U) UNESCO declared Muscat the cultural capital of the
Arab world for 2005/06. With that in mind, the Ministry will
sponsor a photo exhibit on Islam and the Quran during Ramadan
at the Grand Mosque. Additionally, the Ministry is
organizing activities in conjunction with the U.S. Institute
of American Values, and other workshops and activities to
commemorate the cultural year. He noted that the Ministry
annually organizes a Ramadan lecture series featuring
prominent foreign guest speakers, which in the past has
included such notables as Bernard Lewis. This year's
program, the Minister said, will include such American
heavyweights as Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukuyama, and
Thomas Friedman.
GRAPPO