( ), officially the Sultanate of Oman
( ), is an Arab country
in southwest Asia
on the southeast coast of the
. It borders the
Emirates on the northwest, Saudi Arabia on the west and Yemen on the
is formed by the Arabian
Sea on the south and east and the Gulf of Oman on the northeast. The country also
contains Madha, an exclave enclosed by the United Arab
Emirates, and Musandam, an exclave also separated by Emirati
Wattayah, located in the governorate
, is the oldest human
settlement and dates back to the Stone
, making it around 10,000 years old. Archaeological remains
from different dates have been discovered here, the earliest
representing the Stone Age
, then the
Heliocentric Age and finally, the Bronze
. Findings have consisted of stone implements, animal bones,
shells and fire hearths. The latter date back to 7615 BC
and are the oldest signs of human
settlement in the area.
Other discoveries include hand-moulded pottery bearing
distinguishing pre-Bronze Age
heavy flint implements made from slivers of quartz
, and sharp, pointed tools and scrapers.On a
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.
These drawings consist 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 have been
used to throw at animals.
Oman before Islam
Sumerian tablets refer to a country
, a name thought to refer to Oman’s
ancient copper mines. Mezoun
is derived from the
, which means abundant flowing water. The
name we call the country by today, 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 routes to other parts of
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
. Achaemenids in the 6th
century BC controlled and influenced the Oman peninsula.
most likely exerted from a coastal center such as Sohar.
250 B.C. the Parthian dynasty brought the Persian Gulf under their control and extended their influence as
far as Oman. Because they needed to control the Persian Gulf trade route, the Parthians
established garrisons in Oman.
In the third century A.D. the
succeeded the Parthians
and held the area until the rise of
four centuries later.
The arrival of Islam
On the advent of Islam
, the religion reached
Oman during the Islamic prophet Muhammad's
lifetime. The conversion of Omanis is usually ascribed to Amr ibn al-As
, who visited the region by the
middle of the seventh century AD. The Omanis were among the first
people to embrace Islam voluntarily In around 630 AD when the
Muhammed sent his envoy Amr ibn Al As to meet Jaifar and ‘Abd - the
joint rulers of Oman at that time - to invite them to accept the
faith, but they refused and chased for betraying Islamic
After lossing the great chase and In accepting Islam, Oman became
an Ibadhi state which is named after alkhoarej, 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. However, its
most prominent role in this respect was through its extensive
trading and seafaring activities in East Africa, particularly
during the19th century, when it propagated Islam in many of East
Africa’s coastal regions, and certain areas of Central
Omanis also carried the message of Islam with them to China and the
Asian ports.Oman was ruled by Umayyads
between 661-750, Abbasids
932-933 and 934-967, Qarmatians
931-932 and between 933-934, Buyids
of Kirman between
The Portuguese settlement
Portuguese occupied Muscat for a 140-year period 1508–1648,
arriving a decade after Vasco da Gama
discovered the seaway to India.
need of an outpost to protect their sea lanes, the Europeans
built up and fortified the city, where
remnants of their colonial
tribes drove out the Portuguese, but were pushed out themselves
about a century later 1741 by the leader of a Yemeni tribe
leading a massive army from various other tribes, who began the
current line of ruling sultans.
A brief Persian invasion a
few years later was the final time Oman would be ruled by a foreign
power. Oman has been self governing ever since.
Oman and East African Empire
The Sultan's Palace buildings in
Zanzibar which was once Oman's capital and residence of its
In the 1690s Saif bin Sultan
imam of Oman
, pressed down the
East African coast
obstacle was Fort
Jesus, housing the garrison of a Portuguese settlement at Mombasa.
After a two-year siege, it fell to Saif
Thereafter the Omanis easily ejected the
Portuguese from Zanzibar and from all other coastal regions north of
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 the greatest 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. He improved the island's economy by
introducing cloves, sugar and indigo though at the
same time he accepted a financial loss in cooperating with British attempts to end Zanzibar's slave trade.
The link with Oman was
broken after his death in 1856.
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
inherited Muscat and Oman
Dhofar Rebellion was launched in the province of
Dhofar against the
Sultanate of Muscat and Oman and Britain from 1962 to 1975.
It ended with
intervention of Iranian Imperial ground forces and the British
Royal Air Force (RAF) and defeat of the rebels, but the state of
Oman had to be radically reformed and modernized to cope with the
Chief of state and government is the hereditary sultān, Qaboos bin Said Al Said
a cabinet called the "Diwans
" to assist him.
In the early 1990s, the sultan instituted an elected advisory
council, the Majlis
, though few Omanis were eligible to vote
for those over 21 was instituted on 4 October 2003
. Over 190,000
people (74% of those registered) voted to elect the 84 seats.
Two women were elected to seats. The country today has three women
ministers Rawiyah bint Saud al
- Minister of Higher Education, Sharifa bint Khalfan al Yahya'eyah
Minister of Social Development and Rajiha bint Abdulamir bin Ali al
- Minister of Tourism.There are no legal political
parties nor, at present, any active opposition movement. 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.A State Consultative Council, established in 1981,
consisted of 55 appointed representatives of government, the
private sector, and regional interests.
Oman's armed forces, including Royal Household troops foreign
personnel numbered 41,700 in 2002. The army had 25,000 personnel
equipped with over 100 main battle tanks and 37 Scorpion tanks
. The air force of 4,100
operates 40 combat aircraft
navy numbers 4,200 with 13 patrol and coastal combatants.
Paramilitary includes the Tribal Home Guard (Firqats) of 4,000
organized in small tribal teams, a police coast guard of 400, and a
small police air wing. The elite Royal Household brigade, naval
unit, and air unit number 6,400, including 2 special forces
In 2001 Oman spent $2.4 billion on defence or 12.2% of GDP.
greater number of the troops are mercenaries from the Mekran coast
of Gwadar, Pakistan
which was under Omani rule until 1958.
Governorates and regions of Oman
The Sultanate is divided into nine governorates and regions. Each
governorate consists of states share common cultures, habits,
Arabic dialects, history, traditional clothing and traditional
The Governorate of Muscat
most densely populated region in the Sultanate with a population of
more than half a million. It is Oman's political, economic, and
is host to a balance between the traditional heritage
of Omani society and the modern
contemporary features. This preserves Oman’s historical and
cultural identity while presenting Muscat's embrace of
of Dhofar is in the far south of the Sultanate and borders on
the Wusta Region the east, the Arabian Sea to the south, the Republic of Yemen to the west and the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia to the north and north-west.
of Musandam lies in extreme north of the Sultanate.
separated from the rest of the Sultanate by a strip of United Arab Emirates land. It is distinguished for its strategic location, with a section of it
known as Ras Musandam overlooking the international water passage
called the Strait of
It is worth noting that not the whole of the Strait is good for
navigation. The part suitable for sea navigation falls within the
territorial waters of the Sultanate, requiring Omanis to shoulder a
large responsibility in organizing navigation in this Strait
for centuries. The strategic importance of
this Strait has increased recently, as it has become a crossing
point for 90% of the Persian Gulf's oil
to all over the world.
of Buraimi is situated in the northwest corner of the
Sultanate, adjacent to the borders with United Arab Emirates .
It has a number of historic forts
and houses. Its main forts are al Khandaq
, which has been adopted as the emblem
of the Governorate , and Al Hillah Fort
Both these forts have recently been restored by the Ministry of
National Heritage and Culture.
Region occupies a coastal strip along the Gulf of Oman from the state of Barka in the south
to Khatmat Malahah in the state of
Shinas to the
north. The wide strip is enclosed by the Gulf of Oman to the east and the foothills of the Al Hajar
Mountains to the west.
Region is a semi desert plain which slopes from the
southern foot of the Al Hajar towards the Empty Quarter. It is separated from A’Dakhliyah Region by Al Kur Mountain to the East; it joins the
Quarter from the West and Wusta
Region from the south. state of Ibri is
distinguished for its unique location which joins the Sultanate
with other areas in the Arabian
Region is rich in economic and natural resources and has numerous
tourist attractions including forts, castles, towers, old
residential quarters and historic mosques. The state of Nizwa has a
famous and imposing fort, several old mosques and a traditional souq, while Bahla Fort is one of the treasures of the human
heritage. Misfah al
Abriyeen in the state of al Hamra is a splendid example of a hanging
Region forms the northeast coast of Oman, on the Arabian Sea.
It includes the edge of the Al Hajar
mountains to the north, Wahibah Sand
the south and Dakhliah Region
city of Sur, a regional center and the most important cities in
Sharqiyah, played a historical role in trade and navigation in the
It was also the most renowned city in the
building in the last century. Besides marine activity and ship
building, Sur has a number of tourist attractions such as caves. It
is also well-known for its timber and textile industries and
Region is situated to the south of both Dakhliah and Dhahirah Regions, at the east side it is linked to the
Sea, at the west to the Empty Quarter and at the south to Governorate of Dhofar.
includes a large central area of the Sultanate. It is distinguished
for having a great number of oil
||Saudi Arabia, UAE and
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, Matrah and
Sur in the
north, and Salalah in the south.
Desert landscape in Oman.
Oman's climate is hot and dry in the interior and humid along the
coast. During past epochs Oman was covered by ocean. Fossilized
shells exist in great numbers in areas of the desert away from the
peninsula of Musandam (Musandem), which has a strategic location on the
Hormuz, is separated from the rest of Oman by the United Arab
Emirates and is thus an exclave. 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.
Boats may be hired at Khasab for trips
into the Musandam peninsula by sea.
another exclave, inside UAE territory, known as Madha.
is located halfway between the Musandam Peninsula and the rest of
Oman. Belonging to Musandam governorate, it covers approximately 75 km²
(29 sq mi).
The boundary was settled in 1969.
north-east corner of Madha is closest to the Fujairah road, barely 10 m (32.8 ft) away.
the exclave is a UAE enclave called Nahwa, belonging
to the Emirate of Sharjah.
It is about 8 km(5 mi)
on a dirt track west of the town of New Madha. It consists of about
forty houses with its own clinic and telephone exchange.
in Muscat averages
10 cm (4 in), falling mostly in January. Dhofar is
subject to the southwest monsoon
rainfall up to 64 cm (25 in) has been recorded in the
rainy season from late June to October. 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°F) in the hot season, from May to
Flora and fauna
and desert grass
, common to southern Arabia, are found.
Vegetation is sparse in the interior plateau, which is largely
desert. The greater monsoon rainfall
in Dhofar and the mountains makes the growth there more luxuriant
during summer. Coconut palms
plentifully in Dhofar and Frankincense
grows in the hills. Oleander
abound. The Al Hajar
Mountains are a distinct ecoregion,
the highest points in eastern Arabia with wildlife including the
include the Leopard
, and Hare
. Birds include the
Maintaining an adequate supply of water for agricultural and
domestic use is Oman's most pressing environmental problem. The
nation has limited renewable water resources
, with 94% used in farming
and 2% for industrial activity. Drinking water is available
throughout the country, either piped or delivered. Both drought and
limited rainfall contribute to shortages in the nation's water
The nation's soil has shown increased levels of salinity.
of beaches and other coastal areas by oil tanker traffic through
the Strait of
Hormuz and Gulf of
Oman is also a persistent problem.
In 2001, the nation had nine endangered species
and five endangered
types of bird
Nineteen plant species
threatened with extinction. Decrees have been passed to protect
endangered species, which include the Arabian Leopard
, Arabian oryx
, mountain gazelle
, goitered gazelle
, Arabian tahr
, hawksbill turtle
and olive ridley turtle
. In 2007
Oman's Arabian Oryx Sanctuary became the first site ever deleted
from UNESCO's World Heritage list because of the government's
decision to reduce the site to 10% of its former size.
Demographics of Oman
||Arab, South Asian and
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.
about 50% of the population lives in Muscat and the
coastal plain northwest of the capital; about 200,000 live in the
Dhofar (southern) region, and about 30,000 live in the remote
Peninsula on the Strait of Hormuz.
600,000 expatriates live in Oman, most of whom are guest workers
from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Jordan, India and the
Around 32% of the population consists of Ibadhi
rites constitute around 62% of the
total. Imami Shias
the Zikri Shia
form the remaining 6% of the population. While the Imami Shia
are largely originate from Bahrain, Iran and the
Arabia, Shi'a Muslims form a well-integrated community,
concentrated in the capital area and along the northern
The Government does not keep statistics on religious affiliation,
but most citizens are either Ibadhi or Sunni Muslims. Ibadhism, a
form of Islam distinct from Shi'ism and the "orthodox" schools of
Sunnism, historically has been the country's dominant religious
group, and the Sultan is a member of the Ibadhi community.
Non-Muslim religious communities individually constitute less than
5 percent of the population and include various groups of Hindus
, and Christians
communities are centered in the major urban areas of Muscat, Sohar, and Salalah and include Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and various Protestant
These groups tend to organize along
linguistic and ethnic lines. More than fifty different Christian
groups, fellowships, and assemblies are active in the Muscat
metropolitan area. The majority of non-Muslims are noncitizen
immigrant workers from South Asia, although there are small
communities of ethnic Indian Hindus and Christians that
have been naturalized.
Omani citizens enjoy good living
, but the future is uncertain with Oman's limited oil
reserves. The other sources of income, agriculture
and local industries, are small in
comparison and count for less than 1% of the country's exports.
Agriculture, often subsistence
character, produces Dates
. Less than 1% of the country is
but, in general, food
has to be imported. Industries contribute only with 4%, but there
are governmental plans to increase this.
Oil production is extracted and processed by Petroleum Development Oman
recent years, proven oil reserves have been holding approximately
steady, although oil production has been decreasing. Oman has other
mineral resources including Copper
, but this
is little exploited.
Oil and gas
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. This is the
most significant find in five years.
Work is continuing on the RO 503.876 million ( US$1,300 million )
oil refinery project in Sohar, which was due to go into operation
in 2006 with a 116,400 barrels a day refining capacity. In 2004,
Oman Oil Refinery was supplied with about 78,200 barrels a day for
refining, while PDO began using steam injection technology in
several wells to increase their productivity. Oman's future economy
is expected to depend on Sohar, which is growing very fast.
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
. 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
Oman's mineral resources include chromite
. 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.
Copper has been mined in Oman for thousands of years. The mineral
sector’s operations include mining and quarrying. Several projects
have recently been 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
ores in the Ghaizeen area; a study on raw materials in the wilayats
of Duqm and Sur
for use in the Sultanate’s
industry; and a study on the
construction of a new minerals laboratory in Ghala in the Governorate of Muscat
The industrial sector is a cornerstone of the Sultanate’s long-term
(1996-2020) development strategy. Industry is not only one of the
main sectors involved in diversifying the sources of national
income and reducing dependence on oil; it is also capable of
helping to meet Oman’s social
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
its strategy for the industrial sector the government also aims to
develop the information
Oasis Muscat complex has been set up and expanded, and Omani
companies are developing their technological potential through
collaboration with various Japanese and German
also an industrial estate in
Sohar - where the Sultanate’s heavy industries are based
- as well as other estates in Sur, Salalah, Nizwa and
Buraimi. Natural gas
transported to the industrial estates in Sohar and Salalah, helping
to promote expansion of those industries that depend on natural
gas; the government grants these industries tax exemptions, as an
incentive to encourage their expansion and development. By 2020 the
industrial sector is expected to contribute 15% to the country’s
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, a vision of Oman's
economic future up to the year 2020 was set out at the end of the
first phase of the country's development 1970-1995. Vision 2020,
outlined 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:
free-trade agreement with the United States took effect 1 January 2009, eliminating tariff
barriers on all consumer and industrial products.
- To have economic and financial stability
- To reshape the role of the Government in the economy and to
broaden private sector participation
- To diversify the economic base and sources of national
- To globalize the Omani economy
- To upgrade the skills of the Omani workforce and develop human
provides strong protections for foreign businesses investing in
Al-Bustan Palace Hotel
Oman is known for its popular tourist attractions. Wadis
, deserts, beaches, and mountains are areas which
make Oman unique to its neighboring GCC
nations (Wadis in particular). With a coastline of 1700 km,
Oman offers some of the cleanest, most stunning beaches a visitor
could hope to see. Few beaches are private, except some attached to
the beach resort hotels, or those adjoining military or official
property. Weekend picnics and barbecues
popular on the beach. Many coves are perfect for snorkelling and
with fairly gentle shelves, are good for children.
Wadis are green, lush oases of palm trees, grasses, and flowering.
Some wadis have year-round running water, with deep, cool pools in
which it is quite safe to swim if the currents are
slow.Falaj (pl. aflaaj)
means a system for the
distribution of water and is commonly used to describe the
irrigation channel system downstream of the water's source.Some
in Oman were built more than 1,500 years
ago, whilst others were built at the beginning of the 20th century.
The genius of the Omani builders is evident in the way they
tunnelled into the ground to a depth of dozens of metres in order
to gain access to the groundwater. These channels were truly a
miracle of engineering at a time when mechanical equipment was not
Forts and Castles
are Oman's most striking
cultural landmarks and, together with its towers and city walls,
they have historically been used as defensive bastions or look-out
points. Forts were often the seats of administrative and judicial
authority. There are over 500 forts, castles and towers in Oman
which has a coastline of 1,700 km, so they were needed to
protect it from potential invaders. The architectural styles vary,
being determined by the architects who built them or the periods in
which they were built.
The traditional Arabic market place is called the
and these are found in many of the towns
throughout the Sultanate. One of the oldest preserved souqs in Oman
is in Muttrah, on the Corniche. Gold and silver jewellery is found
in abundance as well as numerous wooden carvings, ornaments and
spices. Muttrah souq is a maze of pathways leading in and out of
each other. 'Household' goods make up the bulk of the souq, but
browsing through some of the smaller shops may result in a lucky
find. Bargaining is a must, however. Gold and silver are well
priced and mainly sold by weight. Good buys are silver khanjars
(the traditional Omani dagger, worn by men) and incense burners.
Today,the Capital area has a number of shopping malls, mainly
situated in Qurum, but in recent times, spreading to the Al Khuwair
area, which house a variety of shops, ranging from boutiques to
chain stores. The largest mall in the country is the Muscat City
Other popular tourist activities include sand skiing in the desert,
Scuba Diving, Rock Climbing/Trekking, Surfing & Sailing, Cave
Exploration and Bull Fight/Camel Race.The Muscat
is usually held at the beginning of every year.
During this event, traditional dances are held, temporary theme
parks open, and concerts take place. Another popular event
is The Khareef Festival, which is similar to
Muscat Festival; however it is held in August in Salalah, Dhofar.
During this latter event, mountains are packed as a result of the
cool breeze weather during that period of time which rarely occurs
The estimated workforce was 920,000 in 2002. A large proportion of
the 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
Lanka — foreign laborers constituted over 80% of the
modern-sector workforce in 1996.
Omani law does not provide the right of union
formation. The law forbids a strike for
any reason. Collective
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.
The minimum working age is 13, but this provision is not enforced
against the employment of children in family businesses or on
family farms. 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.
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
In 2006, government employee salaries were increased by 15%,
placing Oman in the category of high-medium income countries. 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.
Before 1970, only three formal schools existed in the whole country
with less 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 a law school, technical college, banking
institute, teachers training college, and health sciences
institute. Some 200 scholarships are awarded each year for study
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
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
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.
Science and technology
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.
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.
The central desert of Oman is an important source of meteorites
for scientific analysis. Since 1999,
search campaigns in Oman have provided about 20% of the world's
meteorites. 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
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, 40% of the population had access to
health care services. .
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, a Semitic language
only distantly related to Arabic, but closely related to Semitic languages in Eritrea and Ethiopia. Swahili and French are also widely spoken in
the country due to the historical relations between Oman and
Zanzibar the two languages have been linked
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. A significant number
also speak Hindi, due to the influx of
Indian migrants during the late 1980s and the
Oman is famous for its khanjar
are curved daggers worn during holidays as part of ceremonial
dress. 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
. Some women cover their faces and hands, but
most do not. The abaya is a traditional dress and it is currently
having 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
A very important part of Omani culture is hospitality. If invited
into an Omani house, a visitor is likely to be greeted with a bowl
, qahwa (coffee with
- standard Arabic قهوة) and fruit.
The coffee is served fairly weak in a small cup, which should be
shaken after three servings to show that you have finished. The
dates are in lieu of sugar. Halwa and other sweets are often given
at celebrations such as Eids.
The Omani people are well known for their hospitality and offers of
refreshment. To be invited into someone's home will mean coffee
, a strong, bitter drink flavoured with
cardamom, and dates or halwa
, a sticky sweet
gelatinous substance which is made from brown sugar, eggs, honey
and spices. It can be flavoured with many different ingredients,
such as nuts, rosewater or even chocolate. Lokhemat is another
accompaniment to coffee, which are balls of flour and yeast
flavoured with cardamom and deep fried until golden then served
with a sweet lime and cardamom syrup. The sweetness of this dish
often counteracts the bitterness of the
More substantial meals often have rice as the main ingredient,
together with cooked meats. 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 a spicy red or white
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
impregnated 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
meal comprising whole spit-roasted kingfish served with lemon rice.
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.
Traditional Omani Food
It is fairly simple, but by using various marinades and
impregnating meat with spices, the result is a mouth-watering
concoction which stimulates the tastebuds. Chicken, fish and mutton
are regularly used in dishes. A favourite drink is laban, a salty
buttermilk. Yoghurt drinks, flavoured with cardamom and pistachio
nuts are also very popular.
Although spices, herbs, onion, garlic and lime are liberally used
in traditional Omani cuisine, unlike similar Asian food, it is not
hot. 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. The differences between some of the
dishes prepared in Salalah, in the south, and those prepared in
Muscat, in the north, are so marked that it is difficult to find
anything common between them. However, one delight that remains a
symbol of Omani hospitality throughout the country are the
ubiquitous dates, served with khawa
, or Omani
coffee. Khawa is prepared from freshly roasted ground coffee mixed
with cardamom powder.
Special dishes are prepared for festive occasions. The Islamic
world celebrates two main religious festivals - Eid Al
and Eid Al Adha
. Eid Al
is celebrated following the Holy Month of Ramadan
when people complete their obligatory fasting for 30 days.
Eid Al Adha
is celebrated on completing the Haj,
or pilgrimage, to Mecca, commemorating the sacrifice of Abraham.
Dishes prepared during Ramadan are very seldom cooked on other
Food cooked on important occasions, such as Eid
is of an infinite variety. Omanis across the country serve an array
of dishes. In Dhofar and Wusta, the festivities start with
ruz al mudhroub
, a dish made of cooked rice and
served with fried fish, and maqdeed
, special dried
meat. In Muscat, Al Batinah, Dahira and Sharqiya regions,
, a dish of tripe and pluck cooked with
crushed or ground spices (cinnamon, cardamom, clove, back pepper,
ginger, garlic and nutmeg), dominates the menu. Other dishes served
during Eid festivities include arsia
, a dish of
lamb meat cooked with rice, and mishkak
meat grilled on charcoal.
Lunch on the first day of Eid
, which is made from wheat mixed with meat.
Lunch on the second day is mishkak
, while on the
third and last day, shuwa
forms the whole day's
meal.However, it is during Ramadan that one can experience Omani
food at its best and two of the most popular traditional dishes
served at Iftar, the breaking of the fast include
, a thick, sweet soup made of wheat, date,
molasses and milk and fatta, a meat and vegetable dish, mixed with
, thin Omani bread, made out of
is a typically Omani delicacy prepared only
on very special occasions. Whole villages participate in the
cooking of the dish which consists of a whole cow or goat roasted
for up to two days in an special oven prepared in a pit dug in the
The method of preparing shuwa
is elaborate. The
meat is marinated with red pepper, turmeric, coriander, cumin,
cardamom, garlic and vinegar and then wrapped in sacks made of dry
banana or palm leaves. These sacks are then thrown into the
smoldering oven, which is covered with a lid and sealed so that no
smoke escapes. In some villages, the meat is cooked for 24 hours
while in others it is believed that meat tastes better after 48
Everyday Omani cuisine includes a wide variety of soups -
vegetable, lentil, lamb and chicken. Salads are also popular and
are usually based around fresh vegetables, smoked eggplant, tuna
fish, dried fish or watercress. Main course dishes are extensive
and range from marak, a vegetable curry, to assorted kebabs,
barbecued, grilled and curried meat, chicken and fish dishes.
Rice is used widely and is served in a variety of ways, from
steamed to elaborate concoctions bursting with meat and vegetables.
Breads rage from the plain to those flavoured with dates, sesame,
thyme and garlic. For desert, Omani halwa
sweatmeat, is a traditional favourite.
Male national dress
The national dress for Omani men
is a simple,
ankle-length, collarless gown with long sleeves called the dishdasha
. Underneath the dishdasha, a plain piece
of cloth covering the body is worn from the waist down. Omani men
may wear a variety of head dresses. The mussar is a square of
finely woven woollen or cotton fabric, wrapped and folded into a
. Underneath this, the kummah, an
intricately embroidered cap, is sometimes worn.
The shal, a long strip of cloth acting as a holder for the khanjar
may be made from the same material as the
mussar. Alternatively, the holder may be fashioned in the form of a
belt made from leather and silver. On formal occasions, the
dishdasha may be covered by a black or beige cloak, called a
. The embroidery edging the
cloak is often in silver or gold thread and it is intricate in
detail. Some men from traditional families carry a stick, which can
have practical uses or is simply used as an accessory during formal
The curved dagger, the khanjar
distinguishing feature of the Omani personality as well as an
important symbol of male elegance. It is traditionally worn at the
The shape of the khanjar
is always the same
and is characterised by the curve of the blade and by the near
right- angle bend of the sheath. Sheaths may vary from simple
covers to ornate silver or gold-decorated pieces of great beauty
and delicacy. In thepast the silver khanjars
were made by melting down Marie Theresa silver coins.Different
types of khanjar
are named after the regions
in which they are made and vary according to size, shape, type of
metal and the overlay. The top of the handle of the most usual
is flat but the "Saidi" type, which
takes its name from the Ruling Family, has an ornate cross-shaped
top. However, all possess certain common features and have the same
- The hilt may be made of costly rhinoceros horn or substitutes
such as sandalwood and marble.
- The blade determines the value of the khanjar according to its strength and quality.
- The sadr, or upper part of the sheath, is decorated with silver
- The sheath, the most striking part of the khanjar madeup of lether, is worked with silver
are supported on belts of locally
made webbing, sometimes interwoven with silver thread or belts of
leather covered by finely woven silver wire with handsome silver
buckles, and a knife with an ornate handle of silver thread is
often stuck into a simple leather pouch behind the sheath.
are worn on formal occasions and at
feasts and holidays, and almost all Omani men boast one.
Once worn in self-defence, the khanjar
today both a fashion accessory and a prestige item much in
Female national dress
Omani women have very colourful costumes which vary from region to
region. The main components of a woman's outfit comprise a dress
which is worn over trousers (sirwal) and the headdress, called the
lihaf or hijab.The Baluchi dress is also common. It is worn by
baluch women.There are numerous traditional styles of Omani costume
seen in Muscat. However, there are three main types which show
vibrant colours, embroidery and decorations. One style of costume
is rather flowing and resembles that worn by the women of the
Interior, while another is decorated with distinctive silver bands.
The embroidery on these dresses can take around two months to
complete.In the Dhofar region(محافظة ظفار), the dress is known as
the "Abu Dhail" which means 'one with a tail'.
This dress is shorter at the front than at the rear and is made
from luxurious velvet or cotton, shot with gold and silver
embroidery, beads and sequins. It has a square neckline and is
generally worn with a lightweight, cotton or silk sh'ela "head
dress" which may also be sewn with pearls, sequins and sometimes
small gold coins for special celebrations. Elaborate jewellery is
often worn with this dress, around the head, neck, wrists, ankles,
fingers and toes. Older ladies, originating from the desert and the
mountains may do so.
|National Team Sports
||Red , White
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
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
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 will host the 2010 Asian
for the first time.File:Oman_FA.png|_____ Oman F.A.
Oman's political challenges are primarily around succession plans.
The democratic institutions and processes are still in early
development and have not experienced real power. There is some risk
of destabilization by radicals backed by militant groups or other
Oman's Musandam peninsula is a strategic asset which may become
contested in future. Strong military ties with the United Kingdom
and the GCC
countries helps maintain stability. The growing power of Iran is not
considered a concern due to the friendly and historical ties
between the two countries.
The demographic challenges are, like in other GCC
countries, that a large proportion of the population are
The economic challenge is over-dependence on oil
. While this is a benefit during oil price spikes, it
is a risk during downturns.
- History of OMAN
- Oman Parliamentary Elections: Shura Council
- Oman - Migration, Ethnic groups, Languages,
Political parties, Local government, International cooperation,
- Department of State
- Oman: proven oil reserves
- Chemical & Engineering
News, 5 January 2009, "U.S.-Oman pact expands Free Trade", p.
- 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.
- General information
- News media