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Sultanate of Oman
سلطنة عُمان
Salṭanat ʻUmān
Flag National Emblem
AnthemNashid as-Salaam as-Sultani
(and largest city)
23°36′N 58°33′E / 23.6°N 58.55°E / 23.6; 58.55
Official language(s) Arabic
Demonym Omani
Government Islamic absolute monarchy
 -  Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said
 -  Deputy Prime Minister Fahd bin Mahmoud al Said[1]
Legislature Consultative Assembly of Oman
 -  Imamate established[2] 751 
 -  End of special treaty with the United Kingdom 1951 
 -  Total 309,500 km2 (70th)
119,498 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  2009 estimate 2,845,000[3] (139th)
 -  2003 census 2,341,000 
 -  Density 9.2/km2 (219th)
23.8/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $74.431 billion[4] 
 -  Per capita $25,109[4] 
GDP (nominal) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $53.395 billion[4] 
 -  Per capita $18,013[4] 
HDI (2007) increase 0.846[5] (high) (56th)
Currency Rial (OMR)
Time zone (UTC+4)
 -  Summer (DST)  (UTC+4)
Drives on the Right
ISO 3166 code OM
Internet TLD .om
Calling code 968
1 Population estimate includes 693,000 non-nationals.

Oman (Listeni /ˈmɑːn/ oh-MAHN; Arabic: عمانʻUmān), officially called the Sultanate of Oman (Arabic: سلطنة عُمانSalṭanat ʻUmān), is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the southeast and the Gulf of Oman on the northeast. The Madha and Musandam enclaves are surrounded by the U.A.E. on their land borders, with the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman forming Musandam's coastal boundaries.

Though formerly under heavy influence from the United Kingdom, Oman was never formally part of the British Empire, or a British protectorate. British influence in the country was strong after the ousting of the Portuguese, who laid claim to Oman in 1507. During this period of Portuguese colonial occupation, Omani forces still controlled most of the interior of the country, whilst the Portuguese only held on to coastal forts.[6][7] Oman has been ruled by the Al Bu Sa'idi dynasty since 1744 and has long standing military and political ties with the United States and United Kingdom, although it maintains an independent foreign policy[8]. This independent foreign policy is highlighted by the fact that Oman is perhaps the only Arab country that has maintained friendly ties with Iran[9][10]. Wikileaks disclosed US diplomatic cables which have shown that cordial relations between Oman and Iran have borne fruit for the United Kingdom (in helping release British sailors held in Iranian captivity)[11]. The same cables also portray an image that Omani government wish to maintain cordial relations with Iran and have continuously played down US diplomats requesting Oman to take a sterner stance against Iran[12][13][14][15].This even led to the UAE allegedly attempting a coup in Oman, which the Omani intelligence uncovered in November-December 2010.[16]

In November 2010, The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) listed Oman as the most-improved nation over the last 40 years from among 135 countries worldwide.[17] According to international indices, Oman is one of the most developed and stable countries in the region.[18]


[edit] History

[edit] Stone Age

World Heritage Graves in Al Ayn, Oman

Dereaze, located in the Governorate of Ibri, is the oldest known human settlement in the area and dates back to the Stone Age, making it around 5,000 years old.[citation needed] Archaeological remains have been discovered here from the Stone Age and the Bronze Age; findings have consisted of stone implements, animal bones, shells and fire hearths, with the latter dating back to 7615 BC as the oldest signs of human settlement in the area. Other discoveries include hand-moulded pottery bearing distinguishing pre-Bronze Age marks, heavy flint implements, pointed tools and scrapers.

On a mountain rock-face in the same district, animal drawings have been discovered. Similar drawings have also been found in the Wadi Sahtan and Wadi Bani Kharus areas of Rustaq, consisting of human figures carrying weapons and being confronted by wild animals. Siwan in Haima is another Stone Age location and some of the archaeological finds have included arrowheads, knives, chisels and circular stones which may have been used to throw at animals.

[edit] Oman before Islam

Wadi Shab, Oman, 2004

Sumerian tablets refer to a country called Magan or Makan, a name believed to refer to Oman's ancient copper mines. Mazoon, another name used for the region, is derived from the word muzn, which means heavy clouds which carry abundant water. The present-day name of the country, Oman, is believed to originate from the Arab tribes who migrated to its territory from the Uman region of Yemen; many tribes settled in Oman making a living by fishing, herding or stock breeding and many present day Omani families are able to trace their ancestral roots to other parts of Arabia.

From the 6th century BC to the arrival of Islam in the 7th century AD, Oman was controlled and/or influenced by three Persian dynasties, the Achaemenids, Parthians and Sassanids. Achaemenids in the 6th century BC controlled and influenced the Oman peninsula, most likely exerted from a coastal center such as Sohar. By about 250 BC the Parthian dynasty brought the Persian Gulf under their control and extended their influence as far as Oman, establishing garrisons in Oman because they needed to control the Persian Gulf trade route. In the 3rd century AD the Sasanids succeeded the Parthians and held the area until the rise of Islam four centuries later.[19]

[edit] The arrival of Islam

The Bahla Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site

The Omanis were among the first people to embrace Islam.[20] The conversion of the Omanis is usually ascribed to Amr ibn al-As, who was sent by Muhammed around 630 AD to invite Jayfar and 'Abd, the joint rulers of Oman at that time, to accept the faith, in which he eventually succeeded. In accepting Islam, Oman became an Ibadhi state, ruled by an elected leader, the Imam. During the early years of the Islamic mission Oman played a major role in the Wars of Apostasy that occurred after the death of Muhammad and also took part in the great Islamic conquests by land and sea in Iraq, Persia and beyond. Oman's most prominent role in this respect was through the extensive trading and seafaring activities in East Africa and the Far East, particularly during the 19th century, when it propagated Islam to many of East Africa's coastal regions, certain areas of Central Africa, India, Southeast Asia and China. Since conversion to Islam Oman has been ruled by Umayyads between 661–750, Abbasids between 750–931, 932–933 and 934–967, Qarmatians between 931–932 and between 933–934, Buyids between 967–1053, Seljuks of Kirman between 1053–1154.

[edit] The Portuguese colonization

The Portuguese occupied Muscat for a 140-year period, 1508–1648, arriving a decade after Vasco da Gama discovered the seaway to India. In need of an outpost to protect their sea lanes, the Europeans built up and fortified the city, where remnants of their colonial architectural style still remain.

Rebellious tribes drove out the Portuguese, but were pushed out themselves about a century later, in 1741, by the leader of a Yemeni tribe leading a massive army from various allied tribes, beginning the current line of ruling sultans. Excepting a brief Persian invasion in the late 1740s, Oman has been self governing ever since.

It should be noted here that neither the Portuguese nor the Persians actually controlled Oman. The vast amount of territory was ruled by tribes and the colonizers were wholly contained to a few port cities. Thus it is wrong to allude to their role, even if unintentionally, in the same vein as other episodes of European colonization, such as the British in India.

[edit] Oman and Gwadar

In 1783, Oman's Saiad Sultan, defeated ruler of Muscat, was granted sovereignty over Gwadar.[note 1][21] He was to continue this sovereignty via an appointed wali (or "governor"), after regaining control of Muscat and maintained close relations with the Emirs of Sindh. The Sultans of Muscat retained sovereignty over Gwadar until the 1950s. In 1955 Makran acceded to Pakistan and was made a district – although Gwadar, at the time, was not included in Makran. In 1958, Gwadar and its surrounding areas were returned by Muscat to Pakistan, and were given the status of Tahsil of Makran district.[note 2][22]

[edit] Oman and East African Empire

The Sultan's Palace buildings in Zanzibar which was once Oman's capital and residence of its Sultans.

In the 1690s Saif bin Sultan, the imam of Oman, pressed down the East African coast. A major obstacle was Fort Jesus, housing the garrison of a Portuguese settlement at Mombasa. After a two-year siege, it fell to Saif in 1698. Thereafter the Omanis easily ejected the Portuguese from Zanzibar and from all other coastal regions north of Mozambique. Zanzibar was a valuable property as the main slave market of the east African coast, and became an increasingly important part of the Omani empire, a fact reflected by the decision of 19th century sultan of Oman, Sa'id ibn Sultan, to make it from 1837 his main place of residence. Sa'id built impressive palaces and gardens in Zanzibar. Rivalry between his two sons was resolved, with the help of forceful British diplomacy, when one of them, Majid, succeeded to Zanzibar and to the many regions claimed by the family on the East African coast. The other, Thuwaini, inherited Muscat and Oman.

[edit] Dhofar rebellion

The Dhofar Rebellion was launched in the province of Dhofar against the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman and Britain from 1962 to 1975. As the rebellion threatened to overthrow the Sultan's rule in Dhofar, Sultan Said bin Taimur was deposed by his son Qaboos bin Said, who introduced major social reforms and modernised the state's administration. The rebellion ended with the intervention of Iranian Imperial ground forces, British RAF air power and major offensives by the expanded Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces.

[edit] Politics

The Sultan's Al Alam Palace in Old Muscat

The head of state and of the government is the hereditary sultān, Qaboos bin Said Al Said, who appoints a cabinet called the "Diwans" to assist him. In the early 1990s, the sultan instituted an elected advisory council, the Majlis ash-Shura, though few Omanis were eligible to vote. Universal suffrage for those over 21 was instituted on 4 October 2003. Over 190,000 people (74% of those registered) voted to elect the 84 seats.[23]

Two women were elected to seats. The country today has three women ministers Rawiyah bint Saud al Busaidiyah – Minister of Higher Education, Sharifa bint Khalfan al Yahya'eyah – Minister of Social Development and Rajiha bint Abdulamir bin Ali al Lawati – Minister of Tourism. There are no legal political parties. As more and more young Omanis return from education abroad, it seems likely that the traditional, tribal-based political system will have to be adjusted.[24] A State Consultative Council, established in 1981, consisted of 55 appointed representatives of government, the private sector, and regional interests.

[edit] Military

Oman's armed forces, officially known as the Sultan's Armed Forces (SAF), including Royal Household troops , numbered 120,000 in 2010, consisting of: 105,000 personnel in the Royal Army of Oman (RAO), equipped with over 1200 main battle tanks and 37 Scorpion tanks; 8,100 personnel in the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) operating 180-200 combat aircraft, trainers, transports and helicopters; and 6,200 personnel in the Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) sailing 64 patrol and coastal vessels. Paramilitary units include the Tribal Home Guard (Firqats) of 8,000 personnel organized in small tribal teams, a Royal Oman Police (ROP) coast guard of 400, and a small ROP air wing. Funded directly by the Sultan, the elite Royal Household brigade, naval unit, and air unit number 6,400, including two special forces regiments. Oman holds one of the World's largest amounts of Scud missiles , ranging at an estimate of over 30,000 ballistic missiles . In 2008 Oman spent 7.7% of GDP on military expenditures.[25] According to Times Online, Oman is home to the world's only camel-backed bagpipe military band.

[edit] Geography

Coast of Sur, Oman
Geography of Oman
Coastline 2,092 km
Bordering countries Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen

Oman lies between latitudes 16° and 28° N, and longitudes 52° and 60° E.

A vast gravel desert plain covers most of central Oman, with mountain ranges along the north (Al Hajar Mountains) and southeast coast, where the country's main cities are also located: the capital city Muscat, Sohar and Sur in the north, and Salalah in the south. Oman's climate is hot and dry in the interior and humid along the coast. During past epochs Oman was covered by ocean, witnessed by the large numbers of fossilized shells existing in areas of the desert away from the modern coastline.

Desert landscape in Oman

The peninsula of Musandam (Musandem) exclave, which has a strategic location on the Strait of Hormuz, is separated from the rest of Oman by the United Arab Emirates.[26] The series of small towns known collectively as Dibba are the gateway to the Musandam peninsula on land and the fishing villages of Musandam by sea, with boats available for hire at Khasab for trips into the Musandam peninsula by sea.

Oman's other exclave, inside UAE territory, known as Madha, located halfway between the Musandam Peninsula and the main body of Oman,[26] is part of the Musandam governorate, covering approximately 75 km2 (29 sq mi). Madha's boundary was settled in 1969, with the north-east corner of Madha barely 10 m (32.8 ft) from the Fujairah road. Within the Madha exclave is a UAE enclave called Nahwa, belonging to the Emirate of Sharjah, situated about 8 km (5 mi) along a dirt track west of the town of New Madha, consisting of about forty houses with a clinic and telephone exchange.[27]

[edit] Climate

Oman has a hot climate and very little rainfall. Annual rainfall in Muscat averages 100 mm (3.9 in), falling mostly in January. Dhofar is subject to the southwest monsoon, and rainfall up to 640 mm (25.2 in) has been recorded in the rainy season from late June to October.[citation needed] While the mountain areas receive more plentiful rainfall, some parts of the coast, particularly near the island of Masirah, sometimes receive no rain at all within the course of a year. The climate generally is very hot, with temperatures reaching 54 °C (129.2 °F) in the hot season, from May to September.

Climate data for Oman
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 81
Average low °F (°C) 63
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.5
Source: weather.com[28]

[edit] Flora and fauna

Nakhal palm tree farms in the Batina Region, Sultanate of Oman

Desert shrub and desert grass, common to southern Arabia, are found, but vegetation is sparse in the interior plateau, which is largely gravel desert.

The greater monsoon rainfall in Dhofar and the mountains makes the growth there more luxuriant during summer; coconut palms grow plentifully in the coastal plains of Dhofar and frankincense is produced in the hills, with abundant oleander and varieties of acacia.

The Al Hajar Mountains are a distinct ecoregion, the highest points in eastern Arabia with wildlife including the Arabian tahr.

Indigenous mammals include the Leopard, Hyena, Fox, Wolf, and Hare, Oryx and Ibex. Birds include the Vulture, Eagle, Stork, Bustard, Arabian Partridge, Bee Eater, Falcon and Sunbird. In 2001 Oman had nine endangered species of mammals and five endangered types of birds[citation needed] and nineteen threatened plant species. Decrees have been passed to protect endangered species, including the Arabian Leopard, Arabian Oryx, Mountain Gazelle, Goitered Gazelle, Arabian Tahr, Green Sea Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Olive Ridley Turtle, but UNESCO have de-listed the Oman Arabian Oryx sanctuary from the World Heritage list due to the government's decision to reduce the site to 10% of its former size.[29]

[edit] Administrative divisions

Oman is divided into nine subjects: five regions (mintaqah) and four governorates (muhafazah).

[edit] Environment

Drought and limited rainfall contribute to shortages in the nation's water supply, so maintaining an adequate supply of water for agricultural and domestic use is one of Oman's most pressing environmental problems, with limited renewable water resources; 94% of available water is used in farming and 2% for industrial activity, with the majority sourced from fossil water in the desert areas and spring water in hills and mountains. Drinking water is available throughout the country, either piped or delivered.

The soil in coastal plains, such as Salalah, have shown increased levels of salinity, due to over exploitation of ground water and encroachment by seawater in the water table. Pollution of beaches and other coastal areas by oil tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman is also a persistent risk.

Demographics of Oman
Languages Arabic, English
Religion Islam
Ethnic groups Arab, Baloch, South Asian and African
Life expectancy 73.13 years

[edit] Demographics

The Ministry of Economy estimates that in mid-2006 the total population was 2.577 million. Of those, 1.844 million were Omanis. The population has grown from 2.018 million in the 1993 census to 2.340 million in the 2003 census. 3.3 million is the estimate from the 2010 Census.

In Oman, about 50% of the population lives in Muscat and the Batinah coastal plain northwest of the capital; about 200,000 live in the Dhofar (southern) region, and about 30,000 live in the remote Musandam Peninsula on the Strait of Hormuz.

Some 600,000 foreigners live in Oman, most of whom are guest workers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, India and the Philippines.

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the largest Mosque in Oman and one of the largest in the world

[edit] Religion

Around 75% of the population consists of Ibadhi, a form of Islam distinct from the Sunni and Shia denominations, 17% Shia Muslims and the Zikri forming the remaining 8% of the indigenous population,[30] originating from Bahrain, Iran and the Ahsa province of Saudi Arabia, integrating well with the community, concentrated in the capital area and along the northern coast.

The Oman government does not keep statistics on religious affiliation, but most citizens are Muslims.[30] Non-Muslim religious communities individually constitute less than 5 percent of the population and include various groups of Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Baha'is, and Christians. Christian communities are centered in the major urban areas of Muscat, Sohar, and Salalah and include Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and various Protestant congregations, organizing along linguistic and ethnic lines. More than fifty different Christian groups, fellowships, and assemblies are active in the Muscat metropolitan area, formed by migrant workers from Southeast Asia, although there are small communities of ethnic Indian Hindus and Christians that have been naturalized.[citation needed] Many of the non-Muslims in Oman are due to the historical and cultural influence of India.

[edit] Economy

Economy of Oman
The Central Bank of Oman
Currency Omani Riyal (R$, OMR)
Fiscal year Calendar year
Central Bank Central Bank of Oman
Stock Market Muscat Stock Market

Oman's Basic Statute of the State expresses in Article 11 that, "The National Economy is based on justice and the principles of a free economy."

Omani citizens enjoy good living standards, but the future is uncertain with Oman's limited oil reserves.[30] Other sources of income, agriculture and industry, are small in comparison and count for less than 1% of the country's exports, but diversification is seen as a priority in the government of Oman. Agriculture, often subsistence in its character, produces dates, limes, grains and vegetables, but with less than 1% of the country under cultivation Oman is likely to remain a net importer of food.

Since the slump in oil prices in 1998, Oman has made active plans to diversify its economy and is placing a greater emphasis on other areas of industry, such as tourism.

[edit] Oil and gas

Petrochemical tanks in Sohar

Oman's proved reserves of petroleum total about 5.5 billion barrels, 24th largest in the world. [31]Oil is extracted and processed by Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), with proven oil reserves holding approximately steady, although oil production has been declining.[32][33] In 2009, production was estimated at 816,000 barrels per day. [34]

Commercial export of oil began in 1967 and since Sultan Qaboos' accession to the throne in 1970, many more oil fields have been found and developed. In June 1999, PDO discovered a new oil field in southern Oman after drilling and testing three wells which demonstrated the commercial viability of the reservoir.

Work is continuing on the RO 503.876 million (US$1.3 billion) oil refinery project in Sohar, which was due to go into operation in 2006 with a 116,400 barrels per day (18,510 m3/d) refining capacity, with the short to mid-term future of Oman resting on the project. In 2004 the Oman Oil Refinery was supplied with about 78,200 barrels per day (12,430 m3/d) for refining, while PDO began using steam injection technology in several wells to increase their productivity.

Natural gas has increased greatly in importance due to the exploitation of gas fields and the opening of a processing plant at Sur, on the coast south of Muscat. Oman's natural gas reserves are estimated at 849.5 billion cubic meters, ranking 28th in the world, and production in 2008 was about 24 billion cubic meters per year.[35]

[edit] Mineral resources

Oman's mineral resources include chromite, dolomite, zinc, limestone, gypsum, silicon, copper, gold, cobalt and iron. Several industries have grown up around them as part of the national development process which, in turn, have boosted the minerals sector's contribution to the nation’s GDP as well as providing jobs for Omanis. The mineral sector's operations include mining and quarrying, with several projects recently completed, including: an economic feasibility study on silica ore in Wadi Buwa and Abutan in the Wusta Region, which confirmed that there were exploitable reserves of around 28 million tonnes at the two sites; a feasibility study on the production of magnesium metal from dolomite ore; a draft study on processing limestone derivatives; a project to produce geological maps of the Sharqiyah Region; economic feasibility studies on the exploitation of gold and copper ores in the Ghaizeen area; a study on raw materials in the wilayats of Duqm and Sur for use in the Sultanate's cement industry; and a study on the construction of a new minerals laboratory at Ghala in the Governorate of Muscat.

[edit] Industry

The industrial sector is a cornerstone of the Sultanate’s long-term (1996–2020) development strategy for diversifying the sources of national income and reducing dependence on oil; it is also capable of helping to meet Oman's social development needs and generate greater added value for national resources by processing them into manufactured products.

The Seventh Five-Year Development Plan creates the conditions for an attractive investment climate, providing a strategy for the industrial sector aiming to develop the information technology and telecommunications industries. The Knowledge Oasis Muscat complex has been set up and expanded, and Omani companies are developing their technological potential through collaboration with various Japanese and German institutions.

There are industrial estates in Sohar, Sur, Salalah, Nizwa and Buraimi providing industries with the resources for expansion. Provision of Natural gas to the industrial estates in Sohar and Salalah, help to promote expansion of those industries reliant on large quantities of energy; tax exemptions are given as an incentive to encourage their expansion and development, with the industrial sector expected to contribute 15% to the country's GDP by 2020.[citation needed]

[edit] Development plans

Sohar port is expected to transform Oman's economy

The Omani economy has been radically transformed over a series of development plans beginning with the First Five-year Plan (1976–1980). At Sultan Qaboos's instruction, "Vision 2020", a plan for Oman's economic future up to the year 2020, was set out at the end of the first phase of the country's development, from 1970–1995, outlining the country's economic and social goals over the 25 years of the second phase of the development process (1996–2020).

Oman 2020, held in June 1995, has developed the following aims with regard to securing Oman's future prosperity and growth:

A free-trade agreement with the United States took effect 1 January 2009, eliminating tariff barriers on all consumer and industrial products, also providing strong protections for foreign businesses investing in Oman.[36]

[edit] Tourism

Al-Bustan Palace Hotel

Oman is known for its popular tourist attractions. Wadis, deserts, beaches, and mountains are areas which make Oman unique among its neighboring GCC nations (Wadis in particular). With a coastline of 1700 km, Oman offers clean beaches popular with visitors. Few beaches are private, except some attached to the beach resort hotels, or those adjoining military or official property. Wadis are green, lush oases of palm trees, grasses, and flowers. Some wadis have year-round running water, with deep, cool pools in which it is quite safe to swim if the currents are slow. A Falaj (pl. aflaaj) is a system for the distribution of water and is commonly used to describe irrigation channel systems downstream of water sources. Some aflaaj in Oman were built more than 1,500 years ago, whilst others were built at the beginning of the 20th century. In many areas, the only water available is attained by drilling wells to depths of dozens of meters.[citation needed]

Numerous forts and castles are included among Oman's cultural landmarks and, together with its towers and city walls, have historically been used as defensive bastions or look-out points, as well as the seats of administrative and judicial authority. There are over 500 forts, castles, and towers in various architectural styles, built to defend a 1,700 km coastline from potential invaders.

Inside of Grand Hyatt at Muscat - Many beautiful hotels dot Oman

Souqs can be found in many of the towns throughout the country. One of the oldest preserved souqs in Oman is Muttrah, on the Corniche, consisting of a maze of pathways; gold and silver jewelry is found in abundance as well as numerous wooden carvings, ornaments and spices and traditional implements. Household goods make up the bulk of the wares. Today the capital area also has a number of Western European-style Shopping Malls, mainly situated in Qurum, but also extending to the Al Khuwair area of Muscat, where a variety of shops, ranging from boutiques to chain stores, can be found.[37] The largest mall in the country is the Muscat City Centre which includes a French Carrefour hypermarket.

Other popular tourist activities include sand skiing in the desert, scuba diving, rock climbing, trekking, surfing & sailing, cave exploration, birdwatching, bull fighting, and camel races. The Sohar Music Festival happening in Sohar every October/November attracts more and more tourist each year. The Muscat Festival, usually held in January and February, is similar to the Dubai Shopping Festival, but smaller in scale, where traditional dances are held, temporary theme parks open, and concerts take place. Another popular event is The Khareef Festival held in Salalah, Dhofar, which is 1200 KM from the capital city of Muscat, during the monsoon season (August) and is similar to Muscat Festival. During this latter event the mountains surrounding Salalah are popular with tourists as a result of the cool weather and lush greenery, rarely found anywhere else in Oman.[38]

[edit] Labour

The estimated workforce was 920,000 in 2002. A large proportion of the indigenous population were still engaged in subsistence agriculture or fishing. The skilled local labour force is small, and many of the larger industries depend on foreign workers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, India, and Sri Lanka. Oman's foreign workers send an estimated $30 billion annually to their Asian and African home states, more than half of them earning a monthly wage of less than US$400.[39] The largest foreign community is from the south Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka or come from Maharashtra,Gujarat and the Punjab,[40] representing more than half of entire workforce in Oman. Salaries for overseas workers are known to be less than for Omani nationals, though still from two to five times higher than for the equivalent job in India.[39]

The minimum working age for Omani citizens is 13, but this provision is not enforced against the employment of children in family businesses or on family farms. The minimum working age for foreign workers is 21. The minimum wage for non-professional workers was $260 per month in 2002. However, many classes of workers (domestic servants, farmers, government employees) are not required to receive the minimum wage and the government is not consistent in its enforcement of the minimum wage law. The private sector working week is 40 to 45 hours long, while government officials have a 35-hour working week.[citation needed]

[edit] Labour unions

Oman Law was amended during February 2010 to allow the formation of Labor unions. There are now approximately 70 Labour Unions within the Sultanate. The law actually allows peaceful protests. Collective bargaining is not permitted, however there exist labour-management committees in firms with more than 50 workers. These committees are not authorized to discuss conditions of employment, including hours and wages. The Labour Welfare Board provides a venue for grievances.[citation needed]

[edit] Inflation

As oil prices have risen to a record high, so has inflation. The government depends mostly on oil revenue, more than on tax returns from companies and other government-owned companies. The government is also Oman's largest employer, so the high interest that government gets increases the prices of food and construction equipment. The government did support the fuel prices so it doesn't increase the inflation and to make the price suitable for people on low wages.

In 2006, government employee salaries were increased by 15%, placing Oman in the category of high-medium income countries.[citation needed] and a year after increase employees' were also increased in salaries so, employees with low wages have a higher increase that may go up to 48% and employees who earn more get a lesser increase in their salaries which end at 5%. The minimum wage has been changed from 120 Rial a month to 140 Rials because of high records of inflation driven by high prices of oil.[citation needed] In February 2011, the minimum wage was increased from 140 Rials per month to 200 Rials per month.[citation needed]

[edit] Transportation

Oman maintains the following road links to its neighboring countries:

Oman National Transport Company or ONTC is the Oman's public bus service company. Muscat International Airport and Salalah Airport are the two main airports in Oman. A rail link has been proposed connecting all major GCC nations and Oman is party to this project. The Muscat Port or Port Sultan Qaboos (Mina Qaboos as its locally known) is the prime maritime gateway of Oman. Other ports have been built in Salalah and Sohar. The Sohar port will be one of the largest in the region once constructin completely finishes. Oman is also constructing the Al Duqm Port & Drydock and drydock.

Oman Air is the national carrier of Oman. Formerly Gulf Air was the national carrier of the Sultanate. But as one by one other Arab nations withdrew from the joint venture, Oman too withdrew. It was the last country to do so.

The Oman Ferries Company maintains the 2 diesel-powered, high-speed, car ferries - Shinas and Hormouz. The ferries are used for travel between Muscat and Khasab. Khasab is strategically located in Musandam on the southern tip of the Strait of Hormuz and is controlled by Oman. Mainland Oman is separated by a small stript of territory of UAE from Musandam. [41]

[edit] Education

Before 1970, only three formal schools existed in the whole country with fewer than 1000 students receiving education in them. Since Sultan Qaboos came to power in 1970, the government has given high priority to education to develop a domestic work force, which the government considers a vital factor in the country's economic and social progress. Today there are over 1000 state schools and about 650,000 students. In 1986, Oman's first university, Sultan Qaboos University, opened. Other post secondary institutions include Higher College of Technology and its 6 other colleges of technology, 6 colleges of applied sciences (including a teacher's training college), a college of banking and financial studies, an institute of Sharia sciences, and several nursing institutes. Some 200 scholarships are awarded each year for study abroad.

Pre-university education in Oman has three stages: primary, preparatory, and secondary. Six years of primary schooling are followed by preparatory school. Academic results of the preparatory exams determine the type of secondary education the student will receive.

Nine private colleges exist, providing 2-year post secondary diplomas. Since 1999, the government has embarked on reforms in higher education designed to meet the needs of a growing population, only a small percentage of which are currently admitted to Higher Education Institutions. Under the reformed system, four public regional universities will be created, and incentives are provided by the government to promote the upgrading of the existing nine private colleges and the creation of other degree-granting private colleges.[citation needed]

The adult illiteracy rate was estimated at 28.1% for the year 2000 (males, 19.6%; females, 38.3%). In 1998, there were 411 primary schools with 313,516 students and 12,052 teachers. Student-to-teacher ratio stood at 26 to 1. In secondary schools in 1998, there were 12,436 teachers and 217,246 students. As of 1999, 65% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, while 59% of those eligible attended secondary school. In the same year, public expenditure on education was estimated at3.9% of GDP. In 1993, there were 252 literacy centers and 176 adult education centers. Three teachers' colleges were functioning as of 1986. The Institute of Agriculture at Nazwa became a full college by 1985. Sultan Qaboos University opened in 1986. In 1998, all higher-level institutions had 1,307 teachers and 16,032 students.

Apart from the schools for Omani nationals, various other schools are present in Oman too that accommodate the children of the huge expatriate population of Oman. These include Indian Schools, Bangaldeshi Schools, Sri Lankan Schools, Pakistani Schools, The American School in Muscat, The American British Academy and the Philippine School Muscat.

[edit] Science and technology

A water oasis in Oman provides a source of drinking water for animals and humans.

Most research conducted in Oman has been done at the behest of the government; agriculture, minerals, water resources, and marine sciences have drawn the most attention. Sultan Qaboos University, founded in 1985, has colleges of science, medicine, engineering, and agriculture. In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 13% of college and university enrollments.

The Institute of Health Sciences, under the Ministry of Health, was founded in 1982. Muscat Technical Industrial College, founded in 1984, has departments of computing and mathematics, laboratory science, and electrical, construction, and mechanical engineering.[citation needed] The Oman Natural History Museum, founded in 1983, includes the national herbarium and the national shell collection. All of these organizations are located in Muscat.

[edit] Meteorites

The central desert of Oman is an important source of meteorites for scientific analysis.[42] Since 1999, search campaigns in Oman have provided about 20% of the world's meteorites.[citation needed] These include rare meteorites from Mars and the Moon. The meteorite accumulations in the gravelly central desert play an important role in increasing knowledge of conditions in the early solar system.

[edit] Health

As of 1999, there were an estimated 1.3 physicians and 2.2 hospital beds per 1,000 people. In 1993, 89% of the population had access to health care services. In 2000, 99% of the population had access to health care services.[citation needed] During the last three decades, the Oman health care system has demonstrated and reported great achievements in health care services and preventive and curative medicine. In 2001, Oman was ranked number 8 by the World Health Organization.

[edit] Culture

Although Arabic is Oman's official language, there are native speakers of different dialects, as well as Balochi (the language of the Baloch from western-Pakistan, eastern Iran), and southern Afghanistan or offshoots of Southern Arabian, and some descendants of Sindhi sailors. Also spoken in Oman are Semitic languages only distantly related to Arabic, but closely related to Semitic languages in Eritrea and Ethiopia. Swahili and English are also widely spoken in the country due to the historical relations between Oman and Zanzibar the two languages have been linked historically. The dominant indigenous language is a dialect of Arabic and the country has also adopted English as a second language. Almost all signs and writings appear in both Arabic and English.[citation needed] A significant number also speak Urdu, due to the influx of Pakistani migrants during the late 1980s and the 1990s.

Khanjar knife, traditional dagger of Oman, circa 1924

Oman is famous for its khanjar knives, which are curved daggers worn during holidays as part of ceremonial dress, during the Medieval Era the Khanjar became highly popular it symbolized Muslim Sailors, later various types of Khanjar's were made representing various sailing nations in the Muslim World. Today traditional clothing is worn by most Omani men. They wear an ankle-length, collarless robe called a dishdasha that buttons at the neck with a tassel hanging down. Traditionally this tassel would be dipped in perfume. Today the tassel is merely a traditional part of the dishdasha.

Women wear hijabs and abayas. Some women cover their faces and hands, but most do not.[citation needed] The abaya is a traditional dress and currently comes in different styles. The Sultan has forbidden the covering of faces in public office. On holidays, such as Eid, the women wear traditional dress, which is often very brightly colored and consists of a mid-calf length tunic over trousers. The Abaya is mostly worn in the capital, whereas in the interior regions brightly colored dresses are the usual attire.[citation needed]

[edit] Food

The main daily meal is usually eaten at midday, while the evening meal is lighter. Maqbous is a rice dish, tinged yellow with saffron and cooked over spicy red or white meat. Arsia is a festival meal, served during celebrations, which consists of mashed rice flavoured with spices. Another popular festival meal is shuwa, which is meat cooked very slowly (sometimes for up to two days) in an underground clay oven. The meat becomes extremely tender and it is infused with spices and herbs before cooking to give it a very distinct taste. Fish is often used in main dishes too, and the kingfish is a popular ingredient. Mashuai is a meal consisting of whole spit-roasted kingfish served with lemon rice. Rukhal bread is a thin, round bread originally baked over a fire made from palm leaves. It is eaten at any meal, typically served with Omani honey for breakfast or crumbled over curry for dinner. Chicken, fish and mutton are regularly used in dishes.

Although spices, herbs, onion, garlic and lime are liberally used in traditional Omani cuisine, unlike similar Asian food, it is not hot (spicy). Omani cuisine is also distinct from the indigenous foods of other Arab states of the Persian Gulf and even varies within the Sultanate's different regions.[citation needed] There are also significant differences in cuisine between different regions of Oman.

[edit] Sport

Sports of Oman
Popular Sport Football, volleyball, basketball and hockey.
National Team Sports 5
National Clubs 48
Colors Red, White, Green

The government aims to give young people a fully rounded education by providing activities and experience in the sporting, cultural, intellectual, social and scientific spheres, and to excel internationally in these areas and for this reason, in October 2004, the government created a Ministry of Sports Affairs to replace the General Organisation for Youth, Sports and Cultural Affairs.

The 2009 Gulf Cup of Nations, the 19th edition, took place in Muscat, Oman, from 4 January to 17 January 2009 and was won by Oman.

The International Olympic Committee awarded the former GOYSCA its prestigious prize for sporting excellence in recognition of its contributions to youth and sports and its efforts to promote the Olympic spirit and goals.

The Oman Olympic Committee played a major part in organizing the highly successful 2003 Olympic Days, which were of great benefit to the sports associations, clubs and young participants. The Football Association took part, along with the Handball, Basketball, Hockey, Volleyball, Athletics, Swimming, and Tennis Associations. In 2010 Muscat hosted the 2010 Asian Beach Games.

They also host tennis tournaments in different age divisions each year. Inside the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex stadium contains a 50 meter pool for swimming which is used for international tournaments from different schools in different countries. The Tour of Oman, a professional cycling 6-day stage race, is held in February.

Oman is also currently hosting the Asian 2011 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup qualifiers, where 11 teams are competing for three spots at the world cup.

Oman is perhaps the only Gulf nation to have bullfighting events organised in its territories. Al-Batena area is prominent for such events. Wide audiences turn up to see the events unfold. Omani bullfighting is however not a violent event. The origins of bullfighting in Oman are unknown though many locals here believe it was brought to Oman by the Moors of Spanish origin. Yet others say it has a direct connection with Portugal which colonized the Omani coastline for nearly 2 centuries.[43]

[edit] Gallery

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ In 1783, when Saiad Said succeeded to the "masnad" of Muscat and Oman (an independent state founded in 1749), he fell out with his brother Saiad Sultan, who fled to safety in Makran and entered into communication with Nasir Khan of Kalat. Saiad was granted the Kalat share of the revenues of Gwadar and lived there until 1797 when he achieved the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman.
  2. ^ Gwadar remained an Omani possession as part of the sultanate until September 1958

[edit] References

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  2. ^ http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761561099_7/Oman.html#s28 Fourth line down from the top of the history section: "In 751 Ibadi Muslims, a moderate branch of the Kharijites, established an imamate in Oman. Despite interruptions, the Ibadi imamate survived until the mid-20th century.". Archived 2009-11-01.
  3. ^ Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (PDF). World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2008/wpp2008_text_tables.pdf. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Oman". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2010/01/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2007&ey=2010&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=449&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=&pr.x=69&pr.y=13. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  5. ^ "Human Development Report 2009: Oman". The United Nations. http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/country_fact_sheets/cty_fs_OMN.html. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  6. ^ "Oman clashes: Two killed during protests in Gulf state". BBC News. 2011-02-27. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12590588. 
  7. ^ "Factbox: Facts about Oman". Reuters. 2011-02-27. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/27/us-oman-clashes-profile-idUSTRE71Q1G720110227. 
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  16. ^ BBC News - Oman uncovers 'spy network' but UAE denies any links
  17. ^ Five Arab states among top leaders in long-term development gains
  18. ^ 2010 Failed States Index - Interactive Map and Rankings | Foreign Policy
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  20. ^ "Oman". United States Department of State. 31. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35834.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-09. "Oman adopted Islam in the seventh century A.D., during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad." 
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  22. ^ Dott. Beatrice Nicolin (25). "International trade networks: The Omani Enclave of Gwadar. – Conference on German and International Research on Oman, Bonn 1998: abstracts". Bonn: Conference on German and International Research on Oman. http://www.oman.org/bonn_007.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-27. 
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  27. ^ "United Arab Emirates". http://geosite.jankrogh.com/nahwa.htm. 
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  35. ^ "Natural gas - proved reserves, production". https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mu.html. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
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  38. ^ "Arabia Tourism". http://oman.arabiatourism.co.uk/events/khareef-festival. 
  39. ^ a b Indian migrant workers in Oman speak to the WSWS
  40. ^ Antony meets Indian diaspora in Omam
  41. ^ http://www.nfcoman.com/en/content.aspx?SecNo=42
  42. ^ 4th Swiss Geoscience Meeting, Bern 2006. Meteorite accumulation surfaces in Oman: Main results of. Omani-Swiss meteorite search campaigns, 2001–2006. by Beda Hofmann et al.
  43. ^ Mangalorean.Com- Serving Mangaloreans Around The World!

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