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Oman – home to Sunnis, Shiites and adherents of the Ibadi branch of Islam, the sultanate's majority sect – increasingly stands out as a bastion of coexistence in the Middle East.Ahmad, a 46-year-old Egyptian doctor living in Oman, says he chooses to worship at Sayyida Mazoon even though he is Sunni.Qaboos, the longest serving ruler in the Arab world, sets the tone on many aspects of life and has worked to steer Oman clear of regional divisions, political or sectarian.Ahmad Majidyar, a researcher at the Washington-based Middle East Institute focusing on sectarianism, says Oman deals severely with any threat to religious cohesion. Despite being wedged between Shiite-ruled Iran and Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia, the regional archrivals have little influence over communities in Oman.The imam credited Sultan Qaboos for his policy of noninterference in other countries' affairs and Oman's society for its tendency to solve problems "within the family".As worshippers of different sects began lining up side by side, the imam excused himself and went to lead the sunset prayer.
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