In 2011, a site in Oman’s Dhofar Governorate was found with more than 100 surface scatters of stone tools belonging to the late Nubian Complex, a geographically unique African lithic industry previously exclusively known from the northeast and Horn of Africa. The Arabian Nubian Complex is 106,000 years old, according to two optically stimulated luminescence age estimations. This backs with the theory that during the Late Pleistocene, early human groups migrated from Africa to Arabia.
Dereaze, in the city of Ibri, is the area’s earliest known human habitation, going back to the Late Stone Age and perhaps 8,000 years. Archaeological relics from the Stone Age and Bronze Age have been found here. Stone tools, animal bones, shells, and fire hearths have all been discovered, with the latter dating back to 7615 BC as the earliest evidence of human habitation in the region. Hand-molded earthenware with pre-Bronze Age markings, hefty flint implements, pointed tools, and scrapers are among the other finds.
Sumerian records mention a country known as Magan or Makan, which is thought to be a reference to Oman’s historic copper mines. Another name for the area is Mazoon, which comes from the Arabic word muzn, which meaning “thick clouds carrying copious water.” The country’s current name, Oman, is said to have come from Arab tribes that moved to its area from Yemen’s Uman region. Many of these tribes settled in Oman, earning a livelihood via fishing, herding, or stock breeding, and many modern Omani families can trace their origins back to other areas of Arabia.
Three Persian dynasties ruled or influenced Oman from the 6th century BC until the advent of Islam in the 7th century AD: the Achaemenids, Parthians, and Sassanids. Few historians think that the Achaemenids ruled the Omani peninsula in the 6th century BC, most likely from a coastal city such as Sohar. The Samad al-Shan, which is unique to Central Oman, is a Late Iron Age cultural assemblage. By about 250 BC, the Parthian monarchy had taken control of the Persian Gulf. They expanded their dominance to Oman, building garrisons there to maintain control over the Persian Gulf’s commercial lines. The Sassanids defeated the Parthians in the third century AD and controlled the region until the emergence of Islam four centuries later. Omanis were among the first to be introduced to and embrace Islam. Amr ibn al-As, who was dispatched by the prophet Muhammad during the Expedition of Zaid ibn Haritha, is generally credited for converting the Omanis (Hisma).
The Portuguese came in Oman a decade after Vasco da Gama’s victorious journey around the Cape of Good Hope and to India in 1497–98, and controlled Muscat for 143 years, from 1507 to 1650. Their fortifications are still standing. The Portuguese needed an outpost to defend their sea routes, so they built up and fortified the city, which still has traces of its colonial architectural style. During the battle for control of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, an Ottoman navy seized Muscat in 1552.
Between 1581 and 1588, the Ottoman Turks retook Muscat from the Portuguese. Rebellious tribes ultimately drove out the Portuguese, only to be driven out themselves a century later, in 1741, by the head of an Omani tribe, who started the present line of reigning sultans. Oman has been self-governing since the late 1740s, with the exception of a short Persian invasion in the late 1740s.
18th and 19th centuries
The Imam of Oman, Saif bin Sultan, pushed along the Swahili Coast in the 1690s. Fort Jesus, which housed the garrison of a Portuguese colony in Mombasa, was a significant impediment to his advance. Bin Sultan captured the fort in 1698 after a two-year siege. With the assistance of the Somali, the Omanis quickly expelled the Portuguese from Zanzibar and all other coastal areas north of Mozambique. In 1737, the Persians invaded Oman. When the Al Saiddynasty came to power in 1749, they drove them away. It is still in power in Oman today.
Zanzibar was a significant asset as the Swahili Coast’s primary slave market, and it grew in importance as part of the Omani empire, as shown by the 19th-century Sultan of Oman, Sa’id ibn Sultan, deciding to make it his permanent home in 1837. In Zanzibar, Sa’id constructed magnificent mansions and gardens. Rivalry between his two sons was settled, thanks to British diplomacy, when one of them, Majid, ascended to Zanzibar and the numerous Swahili Coast territories claimed by the family. Thuwaini, the other son, inherited Muscat and Oman. Omani traditions were indirectly transmitted to Comorian culture via Zanzibar influences in the Comorosarchipelago in the Indian Ocean. Clothing customs and wedding rituals are examples of these effects.
The vanquished king of Muscat, Oman’s Saiad Sultan, was given control over Gwadar in 1783. At the mouth of the Gulf of Oman, this seaside city is situated in the Makran area of what is now Pakistan’s extreme southwestern corner, near the present-day Iranian border. After reclaiming control of Muscat, the monarchy was maintained via the appointment of a wali (“governor”).
The Hajar Mountains, of which the Jebel Akhdar is a part, divide Oman into two different regions: the interior, which is known as Oman, and the coastal area, which is dominated by Muscat, the capital.
Control of the nation was divided in 1913. Ibadite imams controlled the interior, while the sultan ruled the shore. The Sultan acknowledged the autonomy of the interior under the provisions of the British-brokered Treaty of Seeb of 1920. The Sultan of Muscat would be in charge of Oman’s foreign relations.
Reign of Sultan Said (1932–1970)
Sultan Said bin Taimur’s reign was marked by a feudal and isolationist attitude. In May 1954, Imam Ghalib Al Hinai was chosen Imam of the Imamate of Oman. A disagreement over the authority to award oil concessions shattered relations between the Sultan of Muscat, Said bin Taimur, and Imam Ghalib Al Hinai. Some intriguing geological formations near Fahud piqued the attention of an Iraq Petroleum Company affiliate. The Sultan claimed all transactions with the oil firm as his prerogative under the provisions of the Seeb Treaty of 1920. The Imam, on the other hand, argued that since the oil was in his domain, any dealings with it were strictly internal.
Sultan Said bin Zubair sent soldiers from Muscat and Oman Field Force to seize Oman’s major cities, including Nizwa, the Imamate of Oman’s capital, and Ibri, in December 1955.
The Imamate of Oman was commanded by Imam Ghalib Al Hinai and his younger brother, Talib bin Ali Al Hinai, in the Jebel Akhdar War against Sultan Said ibn Taimur’s assault on his territories. The Sultan’s troops were retreating in July 1957, but they were attacked many times, resulting in severe losses. Sultan Said bin Taimur, on the other hand, was able to put down the revolt with the help of troops (two Cameronian companies), armoured vehicle detachments from the British Army, and RAF aircraft. Talib’s troops withdrew to Jebel Akhdar, which was inaccessible.
Colonel David Smiley, who had been sent to organize the Sultan’s Armed Forces, isolated the mountain in fall 1958 and discovered a way to the plateau from Wadi Bani Kharu. They seized the mountain in a surprise attack on January 27, 1959. Ghalib, Talib, and Sulaiman were able to flee to Saudi Arabia, where they continued to support the imamate cause until the 1970s.
The exclave coastal Makran strip became a district of Pakistan’s Balochistan province in 1955, although Gwadar was not included in Makran at the time. On September 8, 1958, Pakistan paid $3 million to Oman for the Gwadar enclave. Gwadar was later included into the Makran district as a tehsil.
The discovery of oil deposits occurred in 1964, and exploitation started in 1967. Leftist militants were arrayed against government soldiers in the Dhofar Rebellion, which started in 1965. Sultan Said bin Taimur was ousted in a bloodless coup (1970) by his son Qaboos bin Said, who enlarged the Sultan of Oman’s Armed Forces, modernized the state’s administration, and implemented social reforms as the revolt threatened to topple the Sultan’s authority in Dhofar. In 1975, the rebellion was put down with the assistance of troops from Iran, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Royal Air Force, army, and Special Air Service of the United Kingdom.
Reign of Sultan Qaboos (from 1970 to now)
Sultan Qaboos opened up the nation after deposing his father in 1970, started on economic reforms, and pursued a modernization program that included greater expenditure on health, education, and welfare. Oman joined the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 1981 as a founding member. Eventually, political changes were enacted. Traditionally, tribal leaders, academics, and merchants were selected as voters. Sultan Qaboos ruled in 1997 that women may vote in the Majlis al-Shura, Oman’s Consultative Assembly, and even run for office. A total of two women were elected to the body.
All people over the age of 21 were granted voting rights in 2002, and the first elections to the Consultative Assembly under the new rules were conducted in 2003. Sheikha Aisha bint Khalfan bin Jameel al-Sayabiyah, Oman’s first female minister with portfolio, was appointed by the Sultan in 2004. She was named to the National Authority for Industrial Craftsmanship, an agency tasked with preserving and promoting Oman’s traditional crafts while also stimulating the economy. Despite these changes, the government’s real political make-up remained largely same. The Sultan’s rule was still based on decrees. In 2005, over a hundred suspected Islamists were apprehended, and 31 individuals were found guilty of plotting to overthrow the government. In June of that year, they were finally pardoned.
Protests took place in Oman in the early months of 2011 as a result of the Arab Spring events taking place throughout the region. Demonstrators wanted political changes, better living circumstances, and the development of more employment, but they did not demand the regime’s overthrow. In February 2011, riot police dispersed them. In response, Sultan Qaboos promised employment and perks. Sultan Qaboos pledged increased powers in the Consultative Assembly elections held in October 2011. The administration started a crackdown on online criticism the following year. Trials of ‘activists’ accused of publishing “abusive and aggressive” criticism of the government online started in September 2012. Six people were sentenced to 12–18 months in prison and fined approximately $2,500 apiece.