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Sultanate of Oman
Flag National Emblem
AnthemNashid as-Salaam as-Sultani
Capital
(and largest city)
Muscat
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
 -  Chancellor Fahad ibn Mahmood Al Said
Establishment
 -  Imamate established[1] 751 
 -  Constitution 1966 
Area
 -  Total 309,550 km2 (70th)
119,498 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
Population
 -  2009 estimate 2,845,000[2] (139th)
 -  2003 census 2,341,000 
 -  Density 9.2/km2 (219th)
23.8/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $68.331 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $24,674[3] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $59.946 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $21,646[3] 
HDI (2007) 0.846[4] (high) (56th)
Currency Rial (OMR)
Time zone (UTC+4)
 -  Summer (DST)  (UTC+4)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .om
Calling code 968
1 Population estimate includes 693,000 non-nationals.

Oman (pronounced oh-MAHN; Arabic: عمان‘Umān), officially the Sultanate of Oman (Arabic: سلطنة عمانSalṭanat ‘Umān), is an Arab country in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It borders the United Arab Emirates on the northwest, Saudi Arabia on the west and Yemen on the southwest.

The coast 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 territory.

Contents

History

Stone Age

Wattayah, located in the governorate of Muscat, is the oldest known human settlement in the area and dates back to the Stone Age, making it around 5,000 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 Age. 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 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. 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 may have been used to throw at animals.

Oman before Islam

Oman's Names Sumerian tablets refer to a country called Magan, a name thought to refer to Oman’s ancient copper mines. Mezoun is derived from the word muzn, which means abundant flowing 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. This was most likely exerted from a coastal center such as Sohar. By about 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 Sasanids succeeded the Parthians and held the area until the rise of Islam four centuries later.[5]

The arrival of Islam

The Omanis were among the first people to embrace Islam voluntarily. The conversion of the Omanis is usually ascribed to Amr ibn al-As, who was sent by the prophet Muhammad around 630 AD to invite Jaifar 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 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 Africa.

Omanis also carried the message of Islam with them to China and the Asian ports. Oman was 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.

The Portuguese settlement

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 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 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 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.

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.

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 radical-leaning rebellion threatened to overthrow the Sultan's rule in Dhofar and produced disorder in other parts of Oman, Sultan Said bin Taimur was deposed by his son Qaboos bin Said, who introduced major social reforms to deprive the rebellion of popular support and modernised the state's administration. The rebellion ended with the intervention of Iranian Imperial ground forces and major offensives by the expanded Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces.

Politics

The Sultan's Al Alam Palace in Muscat

Chief of state and 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.[6]

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 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.[7] A State Consultative Council, established in 1981, consisted of 55 appointed representatives of government, the private sector, and regional interests.

Military

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. The 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 regiments.

In 2005 Oman spent 11.4% of GDP on military expenditures. (See: List of countries by military expenditures)

Geography

Geography of Oman
Coastline 2,092 km
Bordering countries Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen
Desert landscape in Oman.

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.

Coast of Sur, 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 modern coastline.

The peninsula of Musandam (Musandem), which has a strategic location on the Strait of 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.

Oman has another exclave, inside UAE territory, known as Madha. It is located halfway between the Musandam Peninsula and the rest of Oman.[8] Belonging to Musandam governorate, it covers approximately 75 km2 (29 sq mi). The boundary was settled in 1969. The north-east corner of Madha is closest to the Fujairah road, barely 10 m (32.8 ft) away. Within 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.[9]

Climate

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. 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
Average high °F (°C) 81
(27)
79
(26)
84
(29)
93
(34)
102
(39)
104
(40)
100
(38)
97
(36)
97
(36)
95
(35)
86
(30)
81
(27)
Average low °F (°C) 63
(17)
63
(17)
70
(21)
75
(24)
84
(29)
88
(31)
86
(30)
82
(28)
81
(27)
75
(24)
70
(21)
64
(18)
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.5
(12.7)
1
(25.4)
0.6
(15.2)
0.7
(17.8)
0.3
(7.6)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.3
(7.6)
0.5
(12.7)
Source: weather.com[10] 2009-10-26

Flora and fauna

Desert shrub and desert grass, common to southern Arabia, are found. 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 Dhofar and Frankincense grows in the hills. Oleander and varieties of Acacia abound. 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.

Environment

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 supply.

The nation's soil has shown increased levels of salinity. Pollution 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 of mammals and five endangered types of bird. Nineteen plant species are also threatened with extinction. Decrees have been passed to protect endangered species, which include the Arabian Leopard, Arabian oryx, mountain gazelle, goitered gazelle, Arabian tahr, green sea turtle, 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.[11]

Demographics

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

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.

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 expatriates live in Oman, most of whom are guest workers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, India and the Philippines.

Religion

Around 70% of the population consists of Ibadhi Muslims.[12] Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi rites constitute around 17% of the total. Imami Shia Muslims and the Zikri form the remaining 8% of the population.[12] While the Imami Shia largely originate from Bahrain, Iran and the Ahsa province of Saudi Arabia, Shi'a Muslims form a well-integrated community, concentrated in the capital area and along the northern coast.

The Government does not keep statistics on religious affiliation, but most citizens are Muslims.

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. 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.[13]

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

Omani citizens enjoy good living standards, but the future is uncertain with Oman's limited oil reserves.[14] 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 in its character, produces Dates, Limes, Grains and vegetables. Less than 1% of the country is under cultivation 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. In recent years, proven oil reserves have been holding approximately steady, although oil production has been decreasing.[15][16] Oman has other mineral resources including Copper, Asbestos and Marble, 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 and natural gas. 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."

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.

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 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 in Ghala in the Governorate of Muscat.

Industry

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 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. Under its strategy for the industrial sector the government also aims 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 is 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 is 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 GDP.

Development plans

Muscat

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:

  • 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 income
  • To globalize the Omani economy
  • To upgrade the skills of the Omani workforce and develop human resources

A free-trade agreement with the United States took effect 1 January 2009, eliminating tariff barriers on all consumer and industrial products. It also provides strong protections for foreign businesses investing in Oman.[17]

Tourism

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.

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 aflaaj in Oman were built more than 1,500 years ago, whilst others were built at the beginning of the 20th century. In many cases, the only water has had to be attained by drilling into the ground to a depth of dozens of meters.

Numerous forts and castles are included among Oman's 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 souq and these are found in many of the towns throughout the country. 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. G 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 Centre.

Other popular tourist activities include sand skiing in the desert, scuba diving, rock climbing, trekking, surfing & sailing, cave exploration, bull fighting and camel races. The Muscat Festival 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 in Muscat.

Labour

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 Sri Lanka — foreign laborers constituted over 80% of the modern-sector workforce in 1996.

Oman Law was amended during February of 2010 to allow the formation of Labour Unions. There are now approximately 70 Labour Unions within the Sultanate. The law forbids a strike for any reason. 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]

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 expatriate citizens 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]

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.

Transport

Education

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 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.

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.

Meteorites

The central desert of Oman is an important source of meteorites for scientific analysis.[18] 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.

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 3 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.

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, 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 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. A significant number also speak Hindi, due to the influx of Indian 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. 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. 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 pants.

Food

Ted 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 is a meal comprising whole spit-roasted kingfish served with lemon rice. The 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. 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. There are also significant differences in cuisine between different regions of Oman.

Sport

Sports of Oman
Popular Sport Football, volleyball, hockey.
National Team Sports 5
National Clubs 48
Colors 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 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 will host the 2010 Asian Beach Games for the first time.

International Rankings

Organization Survey Ranking
Institute for Economics and Peace [1] Global Peace Index[2] 21 out of 144
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index 56 out of 182
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 39 out of 180
World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 41 out of 133

See also

References

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Oman". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2009/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2006&ey=2009&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=449&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=&pr.x=65&pr.y=4. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  4. ^ "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. 
  5. ^ History of OMAN
  6. ^ Oman Parliamentary Elections: Shura Council (pdf)
  7. ^ Oman - Migration, Ethnic groups, Languages, Political parties, Local government, International cooperation, Forestry, Insurance
  8. ^ Krogh, Jan S.. "Oman". http://geosite.jankrogh.com/oman.htm. 
  9. ^ "United Arab Emirates". http://geosite.jankrogh.com/nahwa.htm. 
  10. ^ "Monthly Averages for Muscat, Oman". weather.com. The Weather Channel. http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/MUXX0003?from=36hr_bottomnav_business. Retrieved October 26, 2009. 
  11. ^ http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/362
  12. ^ a b "Oman". World Factbook. CIA. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mu.html. Retrieved 2007-11-14. 
  13. ^ Department of State
  14. ^ "The CIA World Factbook: Oman". Central Intelligence Agency. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mu.html. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  15. ^ Oman: proven oil reserves
  16. ^ "Oman: Energy data". EIA. http://www.eia.doe.gov/cabs/Oman/Oil.html. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  17. ^ Chemical & Engineering News, 5 January 2009, "U.S.-Oman pact expands Free Trade", p. 18
  18. ^ 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.

External links

Government
General information
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Travel

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Asia : Middle East : Oman
noframe
Location
noframe
Flag
Image:mu-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital Muscat
Government Monarchy (sultanate)
Currency Omani rial (OMR)
Area total: 212,460 km2
water: 0 km2
land: 212,460 km2
Population 3,204,897 (July 2007 est.)
Language Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects
Religion Ibadhi Muslim 75%, Sunni Muslim, Shi'a Muslim, Hindu
Electricity 240V/50Hz (USA & UK plugs)
Calling Code +968
Internet TLD .om
Time Zone UTC+4

The Sultanate of Oman [1] is in the Middle East, on the eastern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It borders the United Arab Emirates in the northwest, Saudi Arabia in the west, and Yemen in the southwest. Oman has two exclaves separated from it by the United Arab Emirates, the Musandam Peninsula and Madha.

Understand

Until Sultan Qaboos bin Said exiled the previous Sultan in 1970, Oman was an under-developed nation, and almost completely closed to visitors. Since that time, education, public works and tourism have taken off throughout the country.

Omanis are friendly people and are very helpful to tourists. In turn, tourists should respect the ways and traditions of the Omani people.

Omanis are proud of both their country's rapid progress and their heritage as one of the great sea-faring nations. Excellent schools and hospitals, good governance, and on-going infrastructure improvement are all important characteristics of this once introverted and closed nation.

History

Before Islam

The oldest known human settlement in Oman dates to the Stone Age.

Sumerian tablets refer to a country called Magan, a name thought to refer to Oman’s ancient copper mines. The present-day name of the country 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 some 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. By about 250 B.C. the Parthian dynasty brought the Persian Gulf under their control and extended their influence as far as Oman and established garrisons in Oman. In the third century A.D. the Sasanids succeeded the Parthians and held the area until the rise of Islam four centuries later.

Climate

The climate generally is very hot, with temperatures reaching 54 °C (129.2 °F) in the hot season, from May to September.

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.

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.

Map of Oman with regions colour coded
Map of Oman with regions colour coded
Northern Oman (Muscat, Bahla, Buraimi, Hajar Mountains, Madha, Matrah, Musandam Peninsula, Sohar)
the capital city, fertile Al-Batinah coast, majestic Hajar Mountains and the Musandam Peninsula
Central Coastal Oman (Ibra, Masirah Island, Sur, Wahiba Sands)
awe-inspiring dunes, old forts and coastal scenery fringing the Indian Ocean
Zufar (Dhofar) (Salalah)
lush coastal lowlands and mountains bordering Yemen
Empty Quarter
huge desert wilderness including much of the largely undefined border area with Saudi Arabia.

Get in

Visas

A single entry, one month visa can be obtained upon arrival at any air, land or sea terminal by the citzens of the following countries:

EU citizens and other Europeans including nationals of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and Vatican but not Cyprus and Malta.

Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, China*, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Moldova, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Russia*, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Suriname, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey*, Ukraine*, USA, Uruguay, Venezuela.

The fee is 6 OMR (unless you are on an expatriate GCC visa, in which case it is 4 OMR) and your passport should be valid for no less than 6 months from the date of arrival.

Chinese, Russian and Ukrainian nationals may obtain visit visas following the same procedures provided that they are part of tourists groups arriving to the Sultanate through a local tourist agent or a hotel or as a family. In the case of groups, the number of females must not exceed the number of males.

Citizens of Egypt, Iran, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia can apply for a one month visit visa only at air terminals.

The visa can be extended another month by submitting your passport to the Royal Omani Police in Muscat, however there is one line, and the wait can be as long as 2 hours. Be aware that the concept of personal distance is different in the Middle East than it is in Europe. Line jumping may be a problem for Europeans unless you set aside that personal distance concept. If you are on a budget and need to extend your visa, I highly recommend taking a trip to the UAE. Buses are RO 10-12 return. A same-day round trip flight to Sharjah on Air Arabia [2] runs around RO 50. Even a taxi would be an option.

Israeli stamps are not a problem for entry, but Israeli passport holders are not permitted into Oman.

By plane

Virtually all international flights arrive at Seeb International Airport (MCT) in Muscat. There are also a small number of regional international flights to Salalah (SLL). Purchasing a visa on arrival in Salalah can be quite difficult, as the airport is very small and immigration officials tend not to have change for larger notes.

There are scheduled services by numerous airlines, including but not limited to Oman Air, Emirates, Gulf Air, Etihad, British Airways, Kuwait Airways, Saudi Arabian Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Swiss International, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Air India, Air France, and Thai Airways International. The most frequent connections are via Dubai (DXB).

There are also direct flights from various Indian cities by airlines like Air India, Indian and Jet Airways.

By boat

The port in Muscat is used by cruise ships, however there are no regular passenger sevices to Oman. This is slowly changing, with more cruise ships (generally smaller ones) making port calls.

Entering the Omani part of the divided village of Dibba (Dibba Bayah) from Dibba Al Hisn (Sharjah, UAE) [Photo: Rolf Palmberg]
Entering the Omani part of the divided village of Dibba (Dibba Bayah) from Dibba Al Hisn (Sharjah, UAE) [Photo: Rolf Palmberg]

There are some border crossings from the United Arab Emirates into Oman. Roads are excellent and the border crossing is quite easy. Don't forget to bring along some cash as you have to pay for the visa to enter Oman. If you are taking a car from the UAE into Oman you will need to produce evidence at the border that the car is insured in Oman. Note that there is a 20 Dh departure tax when leaving the UAE by car, and a 2 OR tax when leaving Oman by road.

There is a regular bus service between Muscat and Dubai (UAE). There are private operators as well as state owned Oman National Transport Company (ONTC) and the ride (which usually takes between 4 to 5 hours) is quite comfortable, thanks to the excellent roads.

Additionally, make sure that your passport is stamped with the relevant entry and exit stamps. This should go without saying, but some border officials will forget part of the procedure and cause administrative hassles later. Additionally, crossing from Oman to the UAE is often a chaotic business, so it is easier to miss out on the all-important stamp than one might expect.

Crossing from Oman to Yemen is significantly more challenging, and those of an adventurous bent should familiarise themselves very carefully with the regulations regarding that border. In previous years, there has been a law that no solo female travellers can exit Oman to Yemen. Additionally, bear in mind that the easternmost parts of Yemen are exceptionally remote.

While a border (unmarked) exists between Oman and Saudi Arabia, this is a very unadvisable crossing, as it involves going through most (if not all) of the Empty Quarter and there are no permanent roads.

The Corniche at Mutrah
The Corniche at Mutrah

By plane

Oman Air [3] is the national carrier and flies regularly among the two airports in the country (Muscat/Seeb, and Salalah). Air Arabia now offers flights to Salalah and Muscat from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

By bus

There are regular, daily bus services connecting the bigger cities within Oman (Muscat, Salalah, Sohar, Sur and Nizwa). There are several, daily bus services from Muscat to Dubai. There is one bus a day from Muscat to Abu Dhabi. For details see the pages of the Oman National Transport Company [4].

By taxi

All Taxi drivers in Oman are Omani nationals as this is a protected profession. In Muscat there are call/telephone Taxi services. These are very reasonably priced, safe, and generally turn up when you want them to. Look for "Hello Taxi" and "Muscat Taxi" amongst others.

The orange-badged taxis are usually owner-operated, these are unmetered with negotiated fares before departure. If you get a very cheap price, then do not be surprised if the Taxi stops to add extra passengers unless you request for it to be private. You may ask for engaged, just say 'engaged taxi' to the driver, and you will pay for all the seats (4) and now have the taxi to yourself. Women must always sit alone in the back. This is for your own safety and comfort.

There are also mini-buses (Baisa buses), the principle is you share the bus or car with others and pay a lower price as a result. This is how women living in Oman travel if they must use public transport. Women should sit next to other women if there are any in the bus. Men should move to other seats. If they do not move immediately, simply stand at the door, looking at them expectantly. They will take the hint and move. Although this might feel strange to foreigners, it is expected behavior for Omanis. Not sitting next to a man will avoid any unfortunate situations of mixed signals.

Dirty money

Believe it or not, but it's actually illegal to drive around in a dirty car in Oman. You may get stopped by the police who can fine you OMR5, although they are more likely to just tell you to wash your ride.

Driving around Oman in your own (rented) car is quite easy. A six-lane highway connects Muscat and Nizwa and a single lane partially lit road, goes from Muscat to Sur. This is though a dangerous road as animals wander onto it day and night. Not to mention reckless racing drivers and poor lighting in large sections towards Sur. Get insurance.

There are still large parts of the Sur - Muscat route that has no mobile phone signal. If you break down be prepared to wait it out. Or hitch a ride to the next town and find a mechanic to bring back to your vehicle.

A wadi near Nizwa
A wadi near Nizwa

Women should wear a headscarf when driving in these parts as it aids in deterring local males from following your vehicle and trying to make contact with you while you are driving. Yes this does happen, and there seems to be nothing discouraging them. They are friendly, but don't seem to understand that this kind of attention is unwanted.

There is a coastal road being built from Muscat to Sur, it is also single lane, and not lit at night. Lovely seaside camping can be found off the edges of this road. Best to take the paved route to SUR, then over to Wadi Shab to find your way safely into this coastal road. If you intend to drive in wadis (unsealed valley roads in river beds) a 4WD is highly desirable. You can never be sure how the road will be and if it starts raining the wadis will turn into rivers quickly.

If at all possible, hire a 4 wheel drive. There is spectacular off-road driving to be had in Oman, and you will want to veer off the tarmac again and again.

Since about 2001 Oman has been experiencing severe flash flooding annually. The force of the water rushing down the rock hard treeless mountains do push even landcruisers off the road and upside down. Beware. If you see dark clouds or rain starts. Find high dry ground, shelter and stay put. You can put a call into the local authorities to see if they can advise you better. The problem is the flash floods move quickly from town to town, it is easy to get trapped by washed out roads.

If you managed to get a map of Oman regard it as how Oman would like to have the roads. Some roads might be drawn as well-built streets but are not even paved. Roads not being visible on the map might just end and may even be painted till the end!

Distances in Oman are relatively long. The problem is the limit of kilometers of the typical rented car of 200 - 250 km per day. Prepare to pay and negotiate for extra-kilometers. Monthly rates sometimes include unlimited kilometers.

Since 2006, in order to try and limit the rather frightening road death toll, the motorways/dual carriageways are littered with speed cameras. In the centre of Muscat they are every 2 km, not all look like they are active - but be warned.

Talk

Arabic is the national language, however most Omanis will speak good to excellent English, and particularly so in major tourist areas and cities. In the southern Zufar (Dhofar) region, a Semitic language called "Jibbali" is spoken. Swahili and Balushi are languages spoken by ethnic minorities in Oman especially in the capital Muscat. The historical presence of Indian traders has meant that Hindi is understood in some urban areas. An English-speaking traveller should have no language difficulties unless he or she really travels "off the beaten track".

A fort at Sur
A fort at Sur

See

Oman is famous for its historic forts which are the country's most striking cultural landmarks. There are over 500 forts and towers which were the traditional defence and lookout points to deter potential invaders. Some of the best examples are conveniently located in the capital, Muscat. Jalali and Mirani forts stand at the entrance to Muscat Bay and date from the early 16th century.

Bahla Fort at the base of the Djebel Akhdar highlands is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has 7 miles of walls. It was built in the 13th and 14th centuries when Bahla was a thriving oasis town.

Oman's rugged montains offer some stunning scenery and probably the best opportunities for driving in dry wadis anywhere in the world. Many of the wadis have made roads (often unsurfaced but decent enough) while others require serious off-roading. You can easily get well off the beaten path into remote areas.

Huge desert dunes roll for as far as the eye can see at Wahiba Sands.

Oman's beaches are major breeding locations for various species of sea turtle. Masirah Island is the perhaps best bet where four species breed, including the largest number of leatherbacks anywhere in the world.

Buy

Currency

The currency in Muscat is the Omani rial (OMR). One rial is made of one thousand Baisa. The rial is officially tied to the US dollar at 1 rial = 2.58 dollars; exchange rates on the streets are a percent or two lower.

There are ATMs at the airport and plenty of them in Muscat and every main town, although not all of them take foreign cards. You can change foreign currency at the counters inside the airport and at money exchanges throughout Oman.

Shopping

The Omani national symbol is the silver-sheathed dagger known as the khanjar. These vary widely in quality and cost, but almost every shop will stock several different models. Most of the modern ones are made by Indian or Pakistani craftsmen under Omani direction, while many are actually made in India or Pakistan. There is a large variety in quality, from the handles to the sheath. The best handles are made of silver-adorned sandlewood, while the lesser quality handles are made of resin. Look carefully at the sheath to determine the quality of the siver work. A good quality khanjar can cost upwards of 700 OMR. Typically, those will come in a presentation box, and include a belt.

Another reminder of the country's tribal past is the walking stick known as arsaa. This is a cane with a concealed sword in it, which can prove quite a talking point at home. Unfortunately, in many countries, it will prove a talking point with customs officials rather than friends and family. In Musandam, the khanjar is frequently replaced by the Jerz as formal wear, a walking stick with a small axe head as the handle.

Omani silver is also a popular souvenir, often made into rosewater shakers and small "Nizwa boxes" (named for the town from which they first came). Silver "message holders" (known as hurz, or herz), often referred to in souks as "old time fax machines" are often for sale as well--if you object to buying religious artefacts as souvenirs, you might want to give these a pass as they were originally created by Jews in the region to carry scripture verses. Many silver products will be stamped with "Oman" on them, which is a guarantee of authenticity. Only new silver items may be so stamped. There is a large quantity of 'old' silver available which will not be stamped. Although it may be authentic, stamping it would destroy its antique value. Caveat Emptor is the watch word. Stick to reputable shops if you are contemplating buying antique Omani silver of any sort.

There is a wonderful selection of Omani silver available as jewelery as well. You should avoid the Muttrah souk since many items there are not genuine Omani items. Instead visit Shatti Al Qurm just outside of Muscat, or the Nizwa Fort, to name two places with reputable shops.

The distinctive hats worn by Omani men, called "kuma" (singular), are also commonly sold, particularly in the Muttrah Souk in Muscat. Genuine kumas typically range from 80 OMR and up.

Frankincense is a popular purchase in the Dhofar region as the region has historically been a centre for production of this item. Myrrh can also be purchased quite cheaply in Oman.

As one might expect, Oman also sells many perfumes made from a great number of traditional ingredients. Indeed, the most expensive perfume in the world (Amouage) is made in Oman from frankincense and other ingredients. It retails at somewhere around the OMR50 mark. You can also find sandlewood, myrrh, and jasmine perfumes.

Opening hours during the holy month of Ramadan are very restricted. Supermarkets are less strict, but don't rely on being able to buy anything after iftar. At noon, most shops are closed anyway, but this is not specific to Ramadan.

Using credit cards in shops is hit or miss. It is better to get cash at an ATM. Small bills are hard to come by but necessary for bartering. Unless you are in a supermarket, restaurant, or mall, barter for everything, being polite at all times. Don't rely on dime novels you may have read where the buyer insults the seller for your bargaining technique.

Wahiba Sands
Wahiba Sands

Eat

The food is mainly Arabic, Lebanese, Turkish, and Indian. Many Omanis make a distinction between "Arabic" food and "Omani" food, with the former being the description of the standard dishes found throughout the Arabian Peninsula.

Omani food tends to be less spicy and served in quite large portions - whole fish are not uncommon at lunch in some local restaurants (sticking to local food, it is quite easy to eat a substantial meal for less than OR2). As benefits of a country with a long coastline, seafood is quite a common dish, particularly shark, which is surprisingly tasty. True traditional Omani food is hard to find in restaurants.

Omani sweets are well-known throughout the region, with the most popular being "halwa". This is a hot, semi-solid substance which behaves a little like honey and is eaten with a spoon. The taste is similar to Turkish Delight. Omani dates are among the best in the world and can be found at every social place and at offices.

American fast food chains, especially KFC, McDonalds, and Burger King, are sadly not hard to find in the bigger cities, especially Muscat and Salalah.

In Khaboora you can get Pakistani Porotta. They are double the size of Indian Porottas and look like pappadams. But they taste like porottas and are much thinner and delicious. Three porottas are available for the equivalent of Rs11. Traditional Omani Khubz (bread) is hard to find outside of an Omani home, but for an experience one should try hard not to miss. This traditional bread is made of flour, salt and water cooked over a fire (or gas stove) on a large metal plate. The bread is paper-thin and crispy. It is eaten with almost any Omani food, including hot milk or chai (tea) for breakfast-- "Omani cornflakes".

In Sohar you may get an excellent lunch with Ayla curry, Ayla fry and Payarupperi. Expect to pay only 400 Baisa (Rs44) which is considered very low lunch price here.

Drink

Bottled drinking (mineral) water is easily available at most stores. Tap water is generally safe; however, most Omanis drink bottled water and to be safe, you should too.

Alcohol is available only in select restaurants and large hotels and is usually very expensive. Only non-Muslim visiotrs are allowed to drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol is illegal for all Omani citizens and drinking alcohol in public is strictly prohibited.

Non-Muslim travellers are allowed 2 litres of liquor as duty free baggage allowance. Travellers can pick up liquor at the duty free shop in the arrival lounge.

During Ramadan, drinking anything in public is prohibited, even for foreigners. Take care to drink in the privacy of your room.

Sleep

Oman has the full spectrum of accommodation - from ultra-luxurious hotels to extremely rustic huts in the desert constructed from date palm leaves.

In recent years, Oman has been attempting to turn itself into something of a five-star destination for well-heeled travellers. This does not pose a problem to the budget-minded in Muscat, and even outside of the capital there is still a range of budget options. In some parts of the country, however, accommodation may be limited to higher-end hotels and resorts.

Work

Working in Oman requires that you hold a residence permit. In common with other Gulf countries, you must be sponsored by an employer to obtain a residence permit. It's not uncommon for people to enter on a tourist visa then look for a job - this is fine. Penalties for the employer are substantial if they are caught employing illegals, although this naturally varies depending on how good their connections are.

The majority of positions are filled by expats from the sub-continent. Positions for Europeans tend to be restricted to upper management levels or specialised occupations, so don't expect to pick up a position as you pass through unless you are prepared to work for very little!

Cope

Visitors may be intrested in the monthly English language lifestyle magazine, Oman Today [5], which is widely available in Oman.

Stay safe

Oman is a relatively safe country and serious crime is rare. The Royal Oman Police is notably efficient and honest.

Driving in Muscat can sometimes be a problem, although this is due more to congestion than bad driving on the part of the locals. Outside of the major cities, a common driving risk is falling asleep at the wheel due to the long stretches of featureless desert. Driving in Oman calls for attention to the unexpected. It has the second highest death rate from traffic accidents in the world (surpassed only by Saudi, followed closely by the UAE). Omani drivers outside of the cities tend to drive very fast and pass with impunity. Driving at night is especially hazardous as many drivers fail to turn their headlights on. Camels will walk into the road even if they see cars approaching, and collisions are often fatal for both camel and driver.

Stay healthy

Oman is warm year-round and summers can be extremely hot. Always carry drinking water with you and be wary of de-hydration in high temperatures. If you're not used to the heat it can sneak up on you and cause serious health problems.

Several people have tried to cross stretches of the Omani desert on their own in a rented 4WD. Some of these people have died or got rescued just in time.

Travelling through a desert requires proper preparation. It looks easy from a modern air-conditioned 4WD, but if that fails you are suddenly back to basics.

Never go off-road alone. A minimum of two to three cars (of the same make) is the rule. Leave your itinerary with a friend with clear instructions if you do not return in time. Take at least: - recovery tools: spades, rope (and attachments), sand mats or ladders - two spare tires and all required equipment - a good air pump (high capacity) - sufficient water (at least 25 litres more than you think you will need for drinking) - sufficient petrol: there are no petrol stations in middle of nowhere.

If you have – or can get – a satellite phone, take it. (Mobiles work only in limited areas.) Check your car before embarking on such a trip.

Respect

The Omanis are generally very humble and down-to-earth people. The usual rules of respect when travelling in a Muslim country should be followed in Oman, even when locals appear to be a little less "uptight" than their neighbours.

Do not discuss or question the Sultan's sexuality; while this is a subject of rumors in the West, it is not an acceptable topic in Oman. Similarly, homosexuality is illegal due to Islamic law.

While Omanis may not say anything to foreigners who dress in tight or revealing clothing, it is quite disrespectful. Yes, some visitors push the goodwill of the Omanis in choosing their attire, but a little sensitivity goes a long way.

Staring is quite common in Oman; children, men and women are likely to stare at you simply for being a foreigner, especially if you travel off-season and in out-of-the-way places. This is not meant as an insult, it rather shows an interest, and a friendly smile will leave the kids giggling and showing off, and the adults happily trying out their few English phrases.

Contact

The country code for Oman is 968.

Dialing out from Oman you will need to dial 00 + International Code + Number

Dialing into Oman callers use +968 followed by an 8 digit number...

These 8-digit numbers generally start with a 9 if it is mobile number, and with 2 for land lines, though other numbers will eventually start to get used.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

OMAN, a kingdom occupying the south-eastern coast districts of Arabia, its southern limits being a little to the west of the meridian of 55° E. long., and the boundary on the north the southern borders of El Hasa. Oman and Hasa between them occupy the eastern coast districts of Arabia to the head of the Persian Gulf. The Oman-Hasa boundary has been usually drawn north of the promontory of El Katr. This is, however, incorrect. In 1870 Katr was under Wahhabi rule, but in the year 1871 Turkish assistance was requested to aid the settlement of a family quarrel between certain Wahhabi chiefs, and the Turks thus obtained a footing in Katr, which they have retained ever since. Turkish occupation (now firmly established throughout El Hasa) includes Katif (the ancient Gerrha), and El Bidia on the coast of Katr. But the pearl fisheries of Katr are still under the protection of the chiefs of Bahrein, who are themselves under British suzerainty. In 1895 the chief of Katr (Sheikh Jasim ben Thani), instigated by the Turks, attacked Sheikh Isa of Bahrein, but his fleet of dhows was destroyed by a British gunboat, and Bahrein (like Zanzibar) has since been detached from Oman and placed directly under British protection.

Oman is a mountainous district dominated by a range called Jebel Akhdar (or the Green Mountain), which is I.o,000 ft. in altitude, and is flanked by minor ranges running approximately parallel to the coast, and shutting off the harbours from the interior. They enclose long lateral valleys, some of which are fertile and highly cultivated, and traversed by narrow precipitous gorges at intervals, which form the only means of access to the interior from the sea. Beyond the mountains which flank the cultivated valleys of Semail and Tyin, to the west, there stretches the great Ruba el Khali, or Dahna, the central desert of southern Arabia, which reaches across the continent to the borders of Yemen, isolating the province on the landward side just as the rugged mountain barriers shut it off from the sea. The wadis (or valleys) of Oman (like the wadis of Arabia generally) are merely torrential channels, dry for the greater part of the year. Water is obtained from wells and springs in sufficient quantity to supply an extensive system of irrigation.

The only good harbour on the coast is that of Muscat, the capital of the kingdom, which, however, is not directly connected with the interior by any mountain route. The little port of Matrah, immediately contiguous to Muscat, offers the only opportunity for penetrating into the interior by the wadi Kahza, a rough pass which is held for the sultan or imam of Muscat by the Rehbayin chief. In 1883, owing to the treachery of this chief, Muscat was besieged by a rebel army, and disaster was only averted by the guns of H.M.S. "Philomel." About 50 m. south of Muscat the port of Kuryat is again connected with the inland valleys by the wadi Hail, leading to the gorges of the wadi Thaika or "Devil's Gap." Both routes give access to the wadi Tyin, which, enclosed between the mountain of El Beideh and Hallowi (from 2000 to 3000 ft. high), is the garden of Oman. Fifty miles to the north-west of Muscat this interior region may again be reached by the transverse valley of Semail, leading into the wadi Munsab, and from thence to Tyin. This is generally reckoned the easiest line for travellers. But all routes are difficult, winding between granite and limestone rocks, and abounding in narrow defiles and rugged torrent beds. Vegetation is, however, tolerably abundant - tamarisks, oleanders, kafas, euphorbias, the milk bush, rhamnus and acacias being the most common and most characteristic forms of vegetable life, and pools of water are frequent. The rich oasis of Tyin contains many villages embosomed in palm groves and surrounded with orchards and fields.

In addition to cereals and vegetables, the cultivation of fruit is abundant throughout the valley. After the date, vines, peaches, apricots, oranges, mangoes, melons and mulberries find special favour with the Rehbayin, who exhibit all the skill and perseverance of the Arab agriculturist of Yemen, and cultivate everything that the soil is capable of producing.

The sultan, a descendant of those Yemenite imams who consolidated Arab power in Zanzibar and on the East African coast, and raised Oman to its position as the most powerful state in Arabia during the first half of the 19th century, resides at Muscat, where his palace directly faces the harbour, not far from the British residency. The little port of Gwadar, on the Makran coast of the Arabian Sea, a station of the Persian Gulf telegraph system, is still a dependency of Oman.

See Colonel Miles, Geographical Journal, vol. vii. (1896); Commander Stiffe, Geographical Journal (1899). (T. H. H.*)


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also oman, and Omán

Contents

English

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Wikipedia

Proper noun

Singular
Oman

Plural
-

Oman

  1. Country in the Middle East. Official name: Sultanate of Oman.

Translations

See also

Anagrams


Bosnian

Proper noun

Oman m

  1. Oman

Croatian

Proper noun

Oman m.

  1. Oman

Finnish

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Finnish Wikipedia has an article on:
Oman

Wikipedia fi

Proper noun

Oman

  1. Oman

Declension

Derived terms


German

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German Wikipedia has an article on:
Oman

Wikipedia de

Proper noun

Oman n.

  1. Oman

Derived terms


Italian

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Italian Wikipedia has an article on:
Oman

Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Oman m.

  1. Oman

Derived terms

Anagrams


Norwegian

Proper noun

Oman

  1. Oman

Related terms


Polish

Pronunciation

  • IPA: /ˈɔman/

Proper noun

Oman m.

  1. Oman

Declension

Singular only
Nominative Oman
Genitive Omanu
Dative Omanowi
Accusative Oman
Instrumental Omanem
Locative Omanie
Vocative Omanie

Derived terms

  • Omańczyk m., Omanka f.
  • adjective: omański

Serbian

Proper noun

Oman m

  1. Oman

See also


Swedish

Proper noun

Oman

  1. Oman







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