Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sultanate of Oman

Oman (Arabic: عمان‎ ‘Umān), officially the Sultanate of Oman (Arabic: سلطنة عمان‎ Salṭanat ‘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, Saudiar Abia 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


History of Oman

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


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.


Tourism in Oman

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.


Introduction Oman

The inhabitants of the area of Oman have long prospered on Indian Ocean trade. In the late 18th century, a newly established sultanate in Muscat signed the first in a series of friendship treaties with Britain. Over time, Oman's dependence on British political and military advisors increased, but it never became a British colony. In 1970, QABOOS bin Said al-Said overthrew the restrictive rule of his father; he has ruled as sultan ever since. His extensive modernization program has opened the country to the outside world while preserving the longstanding close ties with the UK. Oman's moderate, independent foreign policy has sought to maintain good relations with all Middle Eastern countries.


Oman Economy

Oman is a middle-income economy that is heavily dependent on dwindling oil resources. Because of declining reserves, Muscat has actively pursued a development plan that focuses on diversification, industrialization, and privatization, with the objective of reducing the oil sector's contribution to GDP to 9% by 2020. Tourism and gas-based industries are key components of the government's diversification strategy. By using enhanced oil recovery techniques, Oman succeeded in increasing oil production in 2009, giving the country more time to diversify. The drop in oil prices in 2008 and the global financial crisis reduced Oman's budget surplus in 2009 and slowed the pace of investment and development projects, but GDP growth still was positive, in part because Muscat implemented an expansionary fiscal policy