Asia Middle East

Oman Country Overview

Oman. Located in the southeastern part of the Arabian peninsula, in Asia. Since 1967, the Kuria Muría islands, claimed by the Republic of Yemen, belong to Oman.

Oman borders to the west with Saudi Arabia, to the south with the Republic of Yemen and to the northwest with the UAE. To the northeast it borders the Gulf of Oman and to the east with the Arabian Sea (Indian Ocean).

History

Archaeological excavations indicate that 10,000 years ago the territory of Oman was already inhabited. Likewise, Sumerian sources dating from 3,000 BC report that this territory was then a nation open to the sea, in which trade was very prosperous.

Arab migrations began to arrive in Oman in the 9th century BC The rivalry between the two great settled families (the Qahtan, from southeastern Arabia, and the Nizar, from northwestern Arabia) marked the history of this country until the 7th century, when his conversion to Islam occurred. The Omanis broke the Umayyad yoke by choosing their own imam in AD 749.

In the 16th century, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to settle in the region. After his expulsion, two centuries later, the Omani territory became the center of a vast empire under the authority of the Sultan (a name adopted by the imam’s successors in the middle of the 18th century). This empire included Zanzibar and the Portuguese settlements on the eastern coast of the African continent.

The slave trade contributed to an economic boost to the Omani empire until 1822, when this practice was abolished by Great Britain, one of its most important patrons and protectors.

In 1971 Oman was admitted as a full member of the United Nations. Later, tension grew with South Yemen, which supported the Zufar rebels. Clashes with these separatist tribes broke out in 1964 and lasted until 1975, the year in which the rebels were defeated. But the situation remained tense and Oman, despite protests from South Yemen, accepted US military assistance.

In 1982, thanks to the intervention of other Gulf states, Oman and South Yemen normalized their relations by signing an agreement. That same year, Oman and other Persian Gulf countries agreed to establish a common defense plan that was launched by the Gulf Cooperation Council. Oman and Yemen normalized their relations in 1983. Also that year, the first military exercises of the aforementioned Gulf Cooperation Council took place in Oman.

Despite its close relations with the United States, in 1985 Oman established diplomatic relations with the USSR and two years later with Syria.

The uncertainty caused by the Iranian revolution placed Oman in the forefront of the international scene due to its strategic position in the Strait of Hormuz, an obligatory passage for 75% of the world’s oil flow.

In 1987, Oman condemned Iran within the Arab League and supported Iraq throughout the war with the Islamic Republic. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait once again increased tension in the region. Oman aligned itself with the international anti-Iraq coalition during the Gulf War, 1991 and 2003, Sultan Qabus supports the United States in the Gulf War.

Social development

Health

Currently, health services are free and government efforts in this area have reduced the high incidence of tuberculosis, trachoma and whooping cough, which were recorded before the 1970s.

The country’s health infrastructure includes 47 hospitals, 94 preventive centers, 5 mobile centers in rural areas, and 3 maternity wards. However, conditions remain precarious. Oman does not yet have a social security system, infant mortality is very high and malaria and dysentery continue to plague the population; hence the low life expectancy.

Education

Education has undergone a favorable evolution and, although it is not compulsory, school attendance has grown considerably. The primary stage begins at age six and ends at twelve. The next cycle is divided into two: preparatory (three years) and secondary (another three).

According to Militarynous.com, there are a total of 370 government and 38 private elementary schools, 267 preparatory and 66 secondary schools. Most of the teachers who teach classes in the country are citizens of other Arab nations. In 1976 a normal school was opened in order to train teachers in the country itself. In 1979, commercial and agricultural study centers began to operate. In addition, there are several technical and religious institutes.

The only university in the country, the Sultan Qabus National University, became operational in 1986, with an enrollment of 520 students, although it is expected to rise to 3,000 in the next few years. According to statistics from 1970, 80% of the adult population was illiterate. Such a large number prompted the government to create special education centers for adults. In 1987-1988 there were 209 of these centers, attended by 10,625 students.

Communication

In Oman, three newspapers are published in Arabic and two in English, out of a total of 15 periodicals. The Oman News Agency, under the Ministry of Information, is the official agency of the country.

The National Radio of Oman, also linked to the Ministry of Information, broadcasts 20 hours a day of programming in Arabic and 14 in English on FM. Radio Salala broadcasts its programming in Arabic, as well as in the Dhofari languages. The BBC has a medium wave station on Masirá Island, from where it broadcasts programming in Arabic, Farsi, Hindi, Pashtu and Urdu.

Omani television has broadcast color programs since 1974. Advertising was introduced in 1987.

Capital and most important cities

Muscat: It is the capital of the state of Oman. It is located at the eastern end of the peninsula, in a privileged position, from which it controls access to the Persian Gulf. Muscat was occupied by the Portuguese in the 16th century, and has traditionally been an important enclave for Arab-African trade.

At present, the economic activity of the city has shifted to the surroundings of the town of Matrah, located west of Muscat. The architecture of Muscat reflects the various cultural influences that shaped its appearance throughout history (Arab, Portuguese, Persian, Indian and African). To this varied range of styles must be added a western influence, very evident in the modern constructions that have been developed since 1970, under the government of Sultan Qabus bin Said. Until that year, the city had kept its traditional appearance intact.

Among the most significant monuments of the capital is the Sultan’s Palace, in Indian style, built by the sea.

Matrá: It is a city located to the west of the capital, with a very important commercial and port tradition.

The construction, shipyards and fish packaging sectors stand out in their industrial activity.

In 1970, the expansion works of the port, where the terminals of the oil pipelines that connect with the oil wells of southern Oman are located, were completed.

Curiosities

  • In the East some little-known ingredients are used in these lands such as: sesame oil, sesame grain paste and sumac, which is obtained by spraying a spice that comes from the homonymous bush.
  • The economy of the Sultanate of Oman, the former Sultanate of Muscat and Oman, depends primarily on oil, which represents 99% of the total value of exports and generates more than 90% of tax revenues. The prosperity that oil brings to the sultanate is reflected in the technology and facilities that Oman can afford to import from various countries.

The tallest lighting columns in the world are located in the Sultán Oabus sports complex in Muscat. They measure 63 and a half meters and were built by Petitjean & Cie. of Troyes, in France.

Oman Country Overview