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Islamic Countries - Oman

Taken From: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/africa/mali/history.htm

In 1970, QABOOS bin Said Al Said ousted his father and has ruled as sultan ever since. His extensive modernization program has opened the country to the outside world and has preserved a long-standing political and military relationship with the UK. Oman's moderate, independent foreign policy has sought to maintain good relations with all Middle Eastern countries.
Location: Middle East, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Persian Gulf, between Yemen and UAE
Geographic coordinates: 17 00 N, 4 00 W21 00 N, 57 00 E
Area: total: 212,460 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 212,460 sq km
Climate: dry desert; hot, humid along coast; hot, dry interior; strong southwest summer monsoon (May to September) in far south
Population: 2,713,462
note: includes 527,078 non-nationals (July 2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.41% (2002 est.)
Nationality: noun: Omani(s)
adjective: Omani
Ethnic groups: Arab, Baluchi, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi), African
Languages: Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects
Oman's economic performance improved significantly in 2000 due largely to the upturn in oil prices. The government is moving ahead with privatization of its utilities, the development of a body of commercial law to facilitate foreign investment, and increased budgetary outlays.Oman continues to liberalize its markets and joined the World Trade Organization (WTrO) in November 2000. GDP growth improved in 2001 despite the global slowdown.
Industries: crude oil production and refining, natural gas production, construction, cement, copper
Agriculture products: dates, limes, bananas, alfalfa, vegetables; camels, cattle; fish

Telephones main lines in use: 201,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 59,822 (1997)
Radios:1.4 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 13 (plus 25 low-power repeaters) (1999)
Televisions: 1.6 million (1997)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 120,000 (2002)

Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 32,800 km
paved: 9,840 km (including 550 km of expressways)
unpaved: 22,960 km (1996)
Waterways: none
Airports: 143 (2001)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 133; 914 to 1,523 m: 37 ;under 914 m: 32 (2002);1,524 to 2,437 m: 55;over 3,047 m: 2;2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
Country name:
Conventional long form: Sultanate of Oman
conventional short form: Oman
local long form: Saltanat Uman
former: Muscat and Oman
local short form: Uman
Government type: monarchy
Capital: Muscat
Administrative divisions6 regions (mintaqat, singular - mintaqah) and 2 governorates* (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah) Ad Dakhiliyah, Al Batinah, Al Wusta, Ash Sharqiyah, Az Zahirah, Masqat, Musandam*, Zufar*; note - the US Embassy in Oman reports that Masqat is a governorate, but this has not been confirmed by the US Board on Geographic Names (BGN)
Independence: 1650 (expulsion of the Portuguese)
Constitution: none; note - on 6 November 1996, Sultan QABOOS issued a royal decree promulgating a new basic law which, among other things, clarifies the royal succession, provides for a prime minister, bars ministers from holding interests in companies doing business with the government, establishes a bicameral legislature, and guarantees basic civil liberties for Omani citizens
Legal system:based on English common law and Islamic law; ultimate appeal to the monarch; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Executive branch:
chief of state: Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said Al Said (since 23 July 1970); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said Al Said (since 23 July 1970); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the monarch
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary
Judicial branch: Supreme Court
note: the nascent civil court system, administered by region, has non-Islamic judges as well as traditional Islamic judges
Political parties and leaders: none
Ibadhi Muslim 75%, Sunni Muslim, Shi'a Muslim, Hindu
As in much of the rest of Arabia, the earliest known settlements inOman date from the 3rd millennium BC. In that era an empire known as Magan developed along the Batinah,Oman's northern coast, exploiting the rich veins of copper found in the hills around Sohar. The region's economy declined over the centuries and sometime around 563 BC northern Oman was incorporated into the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Southern Oman's Dhofar region flourished due to the presence of frankincense-producing trees. This aromatic gum was one of the ancient world's most sought-after substances and it kept southernArabia wealthy well into the 6th century AD.
In the mid-8th century AD the tribes of northern Oman swept into the rest of Arabia, briefly conquering Medina, where they were subsequently overthrown by the Abbasids. Though defeated, Oman managed to remain relatively free of Abbasid control. Until 1506, when the Portuguese began prowling the Indian Ocean, Omani naval power had few rivals in the area. The Portuguese occupied Oman for more than a century, until they were expelled by Imam Sultan bin Saif in 1650.
This victory marked the beginning of a great expansion: by the end of the 18th century the Omanis ruled a far-flung empire. At its peak in the 19th century, under Sultan Said binSultan,Oman controlled both Mombasa and Zanzibar and operated trading posts even further down the African coast. It also controlled portions of the Indian subcontinent. Oman stagnated after Said's sons split his empire, a situation which the British exacerbated by pressing the sultan to end the trade in slaves and arms for which the country had long been known. This left the sultan a great deal poorer, and lack of money left the interior difficult to control. When Sultan Faisal bin Turki died in 1913, the interior's tribes refused to recognise his son as imam, leading to a split between the coastal area ruled by the sultan and the interior, which came to be controlled by a separate line of imams.
In 1938 a new sultan, Said bin Taimur, came to power, but it took him until 1959 to gain full control of the interior. Said turned Oman into a medieval anachronism, fueling an ever-escalating nationalist rebellion. In 1970, the hermit-like, acquisitive Said was overthrown by his only son, Qaboos, in a bloodless palace coup. Although the British denied any involvement in the coup, the fact that British officers commanded the Oman army at the time seems to tell a different tale. Said spent the rest of his life living in exile in a London hotel, rumored to have subsisted on a diet of fried Mars Bars.
Sultan Qaboos bin Said quickly set to modernizing Oman's semi-feudal economy and repealing his father's oppressive social restrictions. Oman's comparatively modest oil revenues were used to build roads, hospitals and schools, which had all been in short supply. He also opened the country to tourism in 1987, which has yet to become an important sector of the economy.
In foreign affairs Qaboos has been quite the maverick, managing to maintain friendly relations with post-revolutionary Iran and diplomatic ties with Egypt after it signed a peace treaty withIsrael. In 1993, Qaboos welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in a brief visit to Oman, which remained a supporter of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process through the late 1990s. In 1998, Oman was one of several oil-producing countries that announced slight cuts in output, touching off a rise in oil and petrol prices.


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