Oman, formally the Sultanate of Oman, is an Arab nation on the Arabian Peninsula’s southeastern coast. The country is bordered to the northwest by the United Arab Emirates, to the west by Saudi Arabia, and to the south and southwest by Yemen, and it has maritime borders with Iran and Pakistan. The Arabian Sea on the southeast and the Gulf of Oman on the northeast constitute the shore. The UAE surrounds the Madha and Musandam exclaves on all sides, with the Strait of Hormuz (which it shares with Iran) and the Gulf of Oman defining Musandam’s coastline limits.
The Omani Sultanate was a strong kingdom that competed with Portugal and Britain for dominance in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean beginning in the late 17th century. Omani influence or dominance reached its apex in the nineteenth century, extending over the Strait of Hormuz to modern-day Iran and Pakistan, and as far south as Zanzibar (today part of Tanzania, also former capital). As the sultanate’s authority fell in the twentieth century, it came under the control of the United Kingdom. Muscat was formerly the Persian Gulf region’s main commercial port. Muscat was also one of the most significant Indian Ocean trade ports. The official religion of Oman is Islam.
Oman is ruled by an absolute monarchy. Since 1970, the Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said has been the country’s hereditary ruler. Sultan Qaboos is the Middle East’s longest-serving current king and the world’s sixth-longest reigning monarch.
Oman has little oil reserves, ranked 25th in the world. Nonetheless, the UNDP rated Oman as the world’s most improved country in terms of development during the previous 40 years in 2010. Tourism and the trading of fish, dates, and some agricultural products account for a significant part of its economy. This distinguishes it from its neighbors’ purely oil-dependent economies. According to the Global Peace Index, Oman is classified as a high-income economy and the 74th most peaceful nation in the world.
Oman was an underdeveloped country until Sultan Qaboos bin Said exiled the previous Sultan in 1970. It was nearly entirely closed to outsiders and heavily controlled by the British, although never being formally conquered. Education, public infrastructure, and tourism have all exploded in Oman since Qaboos’ ascension.
Omanis are a welcoming people that go out of their way to assist tourists. Tourists, on the other hand, should respect Omani customs and traditions.
Omanis are proud of their country’s fast development as well as its history as a renowned maritime nation. This formerly reclusive and secluded country now has excellent schools and hospitals, as well as strong government and ongoing infrastructural upgrades.
Oman’s tourism industry has lately expanded significantly, and it is projected to become one of the country’s biggest businesses.
Oman offers one of the most varied settings in the Middle East, with a wide range of tourist attractions, and is especially renowned for cultural tourism. Muscat has been named the 2012 Arab Tourism Capital.
Oman is located between 16° and 28° north latitude and 52° and 60° east longitude. Most of central Oman is covered by a large gravel desert plain, with mountain ranges in the north (Al Hajar Mountains) and southeast coast (Qara or Dhofar Mountains), which are also home to the country’s major cities: Muscat, Sohar, and Sur in the north, and Salalah in the south. The interior of Oman has a hot and dry climate, whereas the coast has a humid environment. Oman was covered by ocean in previous epochs, as shown by the vast quantity of fossilized shells found in regions of the desert distant from the current shoreline.
The United Arab Emirates isolate the Musandam (Musandem) exclave from the rest of Oman due to its strategic position on the Strait of Hormuz. Dibba is a collection of tiny settlements that serve as a land and sea entrance to the Musandam peninsula, with boats available for rent at Khasab for excursions into the Musandam peninsula.
Madha, Oman’s second exclave situated halfway between the Musandam Peninsula and the rest of the country, is part of the Musandam governorate and covers about 75 km2 (29 sq mi). The north-east corner of Madha is just 10 meters (32.8 feet) from the Fujairah road, which was populated in 1969. A UAE enclave named Nahwa, which belongs to the Emirate of Sharjah, is located inside the Madha exclave. Approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) west of New Madha, along a gravel road, there are about forty homes, a clinic, and a telephone exchange. Oman’s middle desert is a major source of meteorites for scientific study.
Oman, like the rest of the Persian Gulf, has one of the world’s warmest climates, with summer temperatures ranging from 30 °C (86.0 °F) to 40 °C (104.0 °F) in Muscat and northern Oman. Oman has a dry climate, with annual rainfall in Muscat averaging 100 mm (3.9 in), with the majority of it falling in January. The Dhofar Mountains region near Salalah has a tropical-like climate and gets seasonal rainfall as a consequence of monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean from late June to late September, leaving the summer air saturated with chilly moisture and thick fog. Salalah’s summer temperatures vary from 20 °C (68.0 °F) to 30 °C (86.0 °F), which is cool compared to the rest of Oman.
Rainfall is more in mountainous regions, with yearly rainfall in the Jabal Akhdar likely exceeding 400 mm (15.7 in). Once every few years, low temperatures in mountainous regions result in snow cover. Some sections of the coast, especially those near the island of Masirah, get no rain at all throughout the year. The climate is usually extremely hot, with temperatures peaking at about 50 degrees Celsius (122.0 degrees Fahrenheit) in the hot season, which runs from May through September.
Flora and fauna
Oman has desert shrubs and grasses, which are widespread in southern Arabia, but vegetation is scarce in the central plateau, which is mostly gravel desert. The higher monsoon rainfall in Dhofar and the highlands makes summer growth more lush; coconut trees abound in the coastal plains of Dhofar, while frankincense is grown in the hills, along with oleander and acacia types. The Al Hajar Mountains are a unique ecoregion in eastern Arabia, including animals such as the Arabian tahr.
Leopards, hyenas, foxes, wolves, hares, oryx, and ibex are among the native animals. Vultures, eagles, storks, bustards, Arabian partridges, bee eaters, falcons, and sunbirds are among the birds. Oman has nine endangered mammalian species, five endangered avian species, and nineteen vulnerable plant species in 2001. The Arabian leopard, Arabian oryx, mountain gazelle, goitered gazelle, Arabian tahr, green sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, and olive ridley turtle have all been protected by decrees. Due to the government’s decision to limit the property to 10% of its original area so that the remainder may be opened to oil prospectors, the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary is the only site ever to be removed off UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The highly endangered Arabian humpback whale, the world’s most isolated and only non-migratory population, sperm whales, and pygmy blue whales have all been seen off the coast of Oman in recent years.
With limited renewable water resources, drought and low rainfall contribute to water shortages in Oman. Maintaining a sufficient quantity of water for agricultural and household usage is one of the country’s most urgent environmental issues. The bulk of accessible water is derived from fossil water in arid regions and spring water in hills and mountains, with 94 percent utilized for agricultural and 2% for industrial activities.
Throughout Oman, piped or supplied drinking water is accessible. Due to over-exploitation of ground water and invasion by saltwater in the water table, the soil in coastal plains such as Salalah has risen in salinity. Oil tanker traffic via the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman continues to pollute beaches and other coastal regions.
Animal cruelty has been reported in Oman by local and national organizations. Stray dogs (and to a lesser degree, stray cats) are particularly vulnerable to torture, abuse, and neglect. Currently, the only way authorized for reducing the stray dog population is for police personnel to kill them. Dogs are often stoned or beaten to death by neighborhood teenagers or adults due to Islamic aversions to them. The government of Oman has declined to develop a spay and neuter program or establish any animal shelters. While cats are considered more acceptable than dogs, they are nonetheless considered pests and often die of hunger or disease.
Oman has a population of approximately 4 million people, including 2.23 million Omani citizens and 1.76 million expats as of 2014. In 2011, the overall fertility rate was projected to be 3.70. Oman’s population is extremely youthful, with 43% of the population under the age of 15. Muscat and the Batinah coastal plain northwest of the city are home to almost half of the population. Omani ethnic groups include Arabs, Baluchis, South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, and Bangladeshis), and Africans.
Omani culture is primarily tribal, with three distinct identities: tribal identity, Ibadi religion, and maritime commerce. The first two identities are deeply rooted in tradition and, as a result of long periods of isolation, are particularly prominent in the country’s interior. Business, commerce, and the varied backgrounds of many Omanis, who trace their ancestry to Baloch, Al-Lawatia, Persia, and ancient Omani Zanzibar, represent the third identity, which is mostly focused on Muscat and the coastal regions of Oman. As a result, the third identity is typically regarded as more open and accepting of outsiders, which contrasts with the interior’s more conventional and insular identities.
Islam (official; majority Ibadhi, with minorities of Sunni and Shia) 85.9%, Christian 6.5 percent, Hindu 5.5 percent, Buddhist 0.8 percent, Jewish 0.1 percent, Other 1%, Unaffiliated 0.2 percent
The Sultanate of Oman does not maintain religious data, although almost all Omanis are Muslims, with three quarters adhering to the Ibadi School of Islam, which is quite similar to mainstream Islam. It is the sole surviving manifestation of Kharijism, which sprang from one of the religion’s first schisms. Ibadi has long been regarded as one of the most important Omani religious groups, and the Sultan himself is an Ibadi.
In Oman, almost all non-Muslims are foreign employees. Jains, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Baha’is, Hindus, and Christians are among the non-Muslim religious communities. The main metropolitan centers of Muscat, Sohar, and Salalah are home to Christian populations. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and different Protestant congregations, organized along language and ethnic lines, are among them. In the Muscat metropolitan region, migrant laborers from Southeast Asia have established more than 50 distinct Christian organizations, fellowships, and assemblies.
There are also Hindu and Christian groups of ethnic Indians. There are two Hindu temples in Muscat. One of them is more than a century old. In Oman, there is a sizable Sikh population. Although there are no permanent gurdwaras, the government recognizes numerous tiny gurdwaras in temporary camps. The Indian government struck an agreement with the Omani government in 2008 to construct a permanent gurdwara, but no progress has been achieved.
The “national economy is founded on fairness and the principles of a free economy,” according to Article 11 of Oman’s Basic Statute of the State. Oman’s economy is rather diverse by regional standards, although it remains reliant on oil exports. In Oman, tourism is the fastest-growing sector. Agriculture and industry, which account for less than 1% of the country’s exports, are the only other sources of revenue, although the government sees diversification as a priority. Dates, limes, cereals, and vegetables are produced through subsistence agriculture, but with less than 1% of the nation under cultivation, Oman is expected to remain a net importer of food.
Since the oil price collapse in 1998, Oman has taken active efforts to diversify its economy and is focusing more on other industries, such as tourism and infrastructure. Metkore Alloys plans to spend $80 million in Oman to construct a world-class ferro-chrome smelter with a capacity of 1,650,000 tonnes per year.
A free-trade agreement with the United States went into effect on January 1, 2009, removing tariffs on all consumer and industrial goods while also providing robust safeguards for foreign companies operating in Oman. Tourism, which is another source of income for Oman, is on the increase. The Khareef Festival, which takes place in Salalah, Dhofar, 1,200 kilometers from Muscat, during the monsoon season (August) and is comparable to the Muscat Festival, is a popular event. The mountains around Salalah are popular with visitors during this event because of the cool temperature and abundant vegetation, which can be seen nowhere else in Oman.
Foreign workers in Oman transfer an estimated $30 billion to their home countries in Asia and Africa each year, with more than half of them earning less than $400 per month. The biggest foreign population in Oman is from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka, as well as Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Punjab, which account for more than half of the country’s workforce. Salaries for foreign employees are reported to be lower than for Omani citizens, but they are still two to five times greater than in India.
Shinas and Hormouz, two diesel-powered high-speed automobile ferries, are maintained by the Oman Ferries Company. The ferries transport passengers between Muscat and Khasab. Oman controls Khasab, which is strategically situated in Musandam on the southern point of the Strait of Hormuz. Musandam is separated from mainland Oman by a tiny stretch of UAE territory.
Oil and gas
Oman’s proven petroleum reserves are about 5.5 billion barrels, making it the world’s 25th biggest. Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) extracts and processes oil, with known oil reserves remaining relatively stable despite decreasing oil output. All oil and gas infrastructure and projects in Oman are overseen by the Ministry of Oil and Gas. Between 1979 and 1985, Oman quadrupled its oil production in response to the energy crises of the 1970s.
Production dropped by more than 26% between 2000 and 2007, from 972,000 to 714,800 barrels per day. In 2009, production increased to 816,000 barrels per day, and in 2012, it increased to 930,000 barrels per day. Oman’s natural gas reserves are estimated to be 849.5 billion cubic meters, putting it in 28th place in the globe, while annual output was about 24 billion cubic meters in 2008.