Oman

Introduction 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.
History

From the 6th century B.C. to arrival of Islam in the 7th century A.D., Oman was controlled and/or influenced by three Iranian dynasties of Achaemenid, Parthians, and Sassanids [2]. Achaemenid (6th-4th century B.C.) controlled and/or influenced over the Oman peninsula. This was most likely exerted from a coastal center such as Sohar [2]. By about 250 B.C., Parthian dynasty brought the Persian Gulf under their control and extended their influence as far as Oman. Because they needed to control the Persian Gulf trade route, the Parthians established garrisons in Oman. In the third century A.D., the Sasanids succeeded the Parthians and held area until the rise of Islam four centuries later [3].

On the advent of Islam, the faith reached Oman within Prophet Muhammad's lifetime. The conversion of Omanis is usually ascribed to Amr ibn al-As, who visited the region between 627-32.[4] By the middle of the eighth century AD, Omanis were practicing a unique sect of the faith, Ibadhism, which remains a majority sect only in Oman. Ibadhism has been characterized as "moderate conservatism," with tenets that are a mixture of both austerity and peace.

The Portuguese occupied Muscat for a 140-year period (1508–1648), arriving a decade after Vasco da Gama discovered the seaway to India. In need of an outpost to protect their sea lanes, the Europeans built up and fortified the city, where remnants of their colonial architectural style still remain.

Revolting tribes drove out the Portuguese, but were pushed out themselves about a century later (1741) by the leader of a Yemeni tribe leading a massive army from varying other tribes, who began the current line of ruling sultans. A brief Persian invasion a few years later was the final time Oman would be ruled by a foreign power. Oman has been self governing ever since.

The British slowly brought about a collapse of Muscat and Oman's "empire" by the end of the nineteenth century without use of force. Through gradual encroachment on its overseas holdings economically and politically, they caused Oman to retreat to its homeland. In time Britain held such sway in Muscat and Oman itself that it became in effect, and later in fact, a British protectorate.

Having control of the country's military, the British helped subdue rebel tribesmen in the 1950s, driving most into Yemen. But the sultan ran a repressive regime, with laws forbidding numerous activities, including the building and even repair of his subjects' own homes without permission. In 1970, almost certainly with British backing, he was overthrown by his son, the present ruler, Qaboos bin Said Al Said, and the country declared independence the following year as the Sultanate of Oman.

Qaboos is generally regarded as a benevolent absolute ruler, who has improved the country economically and socially. Oman has maintained peaceful ties on the Arabian Peninsula ever since ending another tribal rebellion in the southwest in 1982 by forging a treaty with Yemen. Oman's oil revenue has been consistently invested in the national infrastructure, particularly roads, schools, hospitals, and utilities. More than ever, the country is poised to take advantage of its strategic trade location on the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to further its economic growth and role in the world.

Except for those who travel to remote Middle East locales, the country has seldom been in the public eye other than for the use of its military bases by U.S. forces in recent years. American and British bombing raids were launched in 1991 from Oman against Iraq in the Gulf War. A decade later, U.S. forces stationed there were involved in raids against Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden.

Geography Location: Middle East, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Persian Gulf, between Yemen and UAE
Geographic coordinates: 21 00 N, 57 00 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 212,460 sq km
land: 212,460 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Kansas
Land boundaries: total: 1,374 km
border countries: Saudi Arabia 676 km, UAE 410 km, Yemen 288 km
Coastline: 2,092 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: dry desert; hot, humid along coast; hot, dry interior; strong southwest summer monsoon (May to September) in far south
Terrain: central desert plain, rugged mountains in north and south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Arabian Sea 0 m
highest point: Jabal Shams 2,980 m
Natural resources: petroleum, copper, asbestos, some marble, limestone, chromium, gypsum, natural gas
Land use: arable land: 0.12%
permanent crops: 0.14%
other: 99.74% (2005)
Irrigated land: 720 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 1 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.36 cu km/yr (7%/2%/90%)
per capita: 529 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: summer winds often raise large sandstorms and dust storms in interior; periodic droughts
Environment - current issues: rising soil salinity; beach pollution from oil spills; limited natural fresh water resources
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: strategic location on Musandam Peninsula adjacent to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil
Politics

Chief of state and government is the hereditary sultān, Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said who appoints a cabinet called the "Diwans" to assist him. In the early 1990s, the sultan instituted an elected advisory council, the Majlis ash-Shura, though few Omanis were eligible to vote. Universal suffrage for those over 21 was instituted on 4 October 2003. Over 190,000 people (74% of those registered) voted to elect the 84[5] seats. Two women were elected to seats. The country today has three women ministers. H.E. Dr. Rawiyah bint Saud al Busaidiyah - Minister of Higher Education, H.E. Dr. Sharifa bint Khalfan al Yahya'eyah - Minister of Social Development and H.E. Dr. Rajiha bint Abdulamir bin Ali - Minister of Tourism.

The sultan functions as an absolute ruler.

People Population: 3,311,640
note: includes 577,293 non-nationals (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 42.7% (male 721,796/female 692,699)
15-64 years: 54.5% (male 1,053,040/female 752,962)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 51,290/female 39,853) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 18.9 years
male: 21.3 years
female: 16.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.19% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 35.26 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 3.68 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.33 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.4 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.29 male(s)/female
total population: 1.23 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 17.45 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 19.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 73.91 years
male: 71.64 years
female: 76.29 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.62 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 1,300 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Omani(s)
adjective: Omani
Ethnic groups: Arab, Baluchi, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi), African
Religions: Ibadhi Muslim 75%, other (includes Sunni Muslim, Shi'a Muslim, Hindu) 25%
Languages: Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects
Literacy: definition: NA
total population: 81.4%
male: 86.8%
female: 73.5% (2003 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Sultanate of Oman
conventional short form: Oman
local long form: Saltanat Uman
local short form: Uman
former: Muscat and Oman
Government type: monarchy
Capital: name: Muscat
geographic coordinates: 23 37 N, 58 35 E
time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 5 regions (manatiq, singular - mintaqat) and 4 governorates* (muhafazat, singular - muhafazat) Ad Dakhiliyah, Al Batinah, Al Buraymi*, Al Wusta, Ash Sharqiyah, Az Zahirah, Masqat*, Musandam*, Zufar (Dhofar)*
Independence: 1650 (expulsion of the Portuguese)
National holiday: Birthday of Sultan QABOOS, 18 November (1940)
Constitution: none; note - on 6 November 1996, Sultan QABOOS issued a royal decree promulgating a basic law considered by the government to be a constitution 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
Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal; note - members of the military and security forces are not allowed to vote
Executive branch: chief of state: Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said al-Said (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972); 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 (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the monarch
elections: the monarch is hereditary
Legislative branch: bicameral Majlis Oman consists of Majlis al-Dawla or upper chamber (70 seats; members appointed by the monarch; has advisory powers only) and Majlis al-Shura or lower chamber (84 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms; body has some limited power to propose legislation, but otherwise has only advisory powers)
elections: last held 27 October 2007 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: new candidates won 46 seats and 38 members of the outgoing Majlis kept their positions; none of the 20 female candidates were elected
Judicial branch: Supreme Court
note: the nascent civil court system, administered by region, has judges who practice secular and Shari'a law
Political parties and leaders: none
Political pressure groups and leaders: none
International organization participation: ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, FAO, G-77, GCC, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Hunaina bint Sultan bin Ahmad al-MUGHAIRI
chancery: 2535 Belmont Road, NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 387-1980
FAX: [1] (202) 745-4933
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Gary A. GRAPPO
embassy: Jameat A'Duwal Al Arabiya Street, Al Khuwair area, Muscat
mailing address: P. O. Box 202, P.C. 115, Madinat Sultan Qaboos, Muscat
telephone: [968] 24-643-400
FAX: [968] 24-699771
Flag description: three horizontal bands of white, red, and green of equal width with a broad, vertical, red band on the hoist side; the national emblem (a khanjar dagger in its sheath superimposed on two crossed swords in scabbards) in white is centered near the top of the vertical band
Sports

The government aims to give young people a fully rounded education by providing activities and experience in the sporting, cultural, intellectual, social and scientific spheres, and to excel internationally in these areas and for this reason, in October 2004, the government created a Ministry of Sports Affairs to replace the General Organisation for Youth, Sports and Cultural Affairs.

The International Olympic Committee awarded the former GOYSCA its prestigious prize for sporting excellence in recognition of its contributions to youth and sports and its efforts to promote the Olympic spirit and goals.

The Oman Olympic Committee played a major part in organizing the highly successful 2003 Olympic Days, which were of great benefit to the sports associations, clubs and young participants. The Football Association took part, along with the Handball, Basketball, Hockey, Volleyball, Athletics, Swimming, and Tennis Associations. In 2010 Muscat will host the 2010 Asian Beach Games for the first time.

Economy Economy - overview: Oman is a middle-income economy that is heavily dependent on dwindling oil resources, but sustained high oil prices in recent years have helped build Oman's budget and trade surpluses and foreign reserves. Oman joined the World Trade Organization in November 2000 and continues to liberalize its markets. It ratified a free trade agreement with the US in September 2006, and, through the Gulf Cooperation Council, seeks similar agreements with the EU, China and Japan. As a result of its dwindling oil resources, Oman is actively pursuing a development plan that focuses on diversification, industrialization, and privatization, with the objective of reducing the oil sector's contribution to GDP to 9 percent by 2020. Muscat is attempting to "Omanize" the labor force by replacing foreign expatriate workers with local workers. Oman actively seeks private foreign investors, especially in the industrial, information technology, tourism, and higher education fields. Industrial development plans focus on gas resources, metal manufacturing, petrochemicals, and international transshipment ports.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $61.21 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $40.52 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5.3% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $19,100 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 2.2%
industry: 38.3%
services: 59.5% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 920,000 (2002 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate: 15% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 20.3% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $13.82 billion
expenditures: $13.67 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt: 2.8% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: dates, limes, bananas, alfalfa, vegetables; camels, cattle; fish
Industries: crude oil production and refining, natural and liquefied natural gas (LNG) production; construction, cement, copper, steel, chemicals, optic fiber
Industrial production growth rate: 3.2% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 11.89 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 8.661 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 740,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - consumption: 66,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 733,100 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 15,440 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 5.506 billion bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 18.98 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 8.795 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 10.19 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 795.2 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: $3.785 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $22.68 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: petroleum, reexports, fish, metals, textiles
Exports - partners: China 23.6%, South Korea 17.9%, Japan 10.9%, Thailand 10.7%, South Africa 7.7%, UAE 6.3% (2006)
Imports: $11 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, livestock, lubricants
Imports - partners: UAE 22.4%, Japan 16.4%, US 8.1%, Germany 5.5%, India 4.3% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $30.68 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $7.004 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $3.483 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $NA
Market value of publicly traded shares: $16.16 billion (2006)
Currency (code): Omani rial (OMR)
Currency code: OMR
Exchange rates: Omani rials per US dollar - 0.3845 (2007), 0.3845 (2006), 0.3845 (2005), 0.3845 (2004), 0.3845 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 278,300 (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 1.818 million (2006)
Telephone system: general assessment: modern system consisting of open-wire, microwave, and radiotelephone communication stations; limited coaxial cable
domestic: fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership both increasing; open-wire, microwave, radiotelephone communications, and a domestic satellite system with 8 earth stations
international: country code - 968; the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) and the SEA-ME-WE-3 submarine cable provide connectivity to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat
Radio broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 9, shortwave 2 (1999)
Radios: 1.4 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 13 (plus 25 repeaters) (1999)
Televisions: 1.6 million (1997)
Internet country code: .om
Internet hosts: 3,763 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 319,200 (2006)
Transportation Airports: 137 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 7
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 130
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 51
914 to 1,523 m: 35
under 914 m: 34 (2007)
Heliports: 2 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 4,126 km; oil 3,558 km (2007)
Roadways: total: 34,965 km
paved: 9,673 km (includes 550 km of expressways)
unpaved: 25,292 km (2001)
Merchant marine: total: 2 ships (1000 GRT or over) 12,155 GRT/7,244 DWT
by type: chemical tanker 1, passenger 1
registered in other countries: 1 (Panama 1) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Mina' Qabus, Salalah
Military Military branches: Sultan's Armed Forces (SAF): Royal Army of Oman, Royal Navy of Oman, Royal Air Force of Oman (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 18-30 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 802,455
females age 16-49: 626,841 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 663,881
females age 16-49: 543,410 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 16-49: 34,238
females age 16-49: 33,139 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 11.4% (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: boundary agreement reportedly signed and ratified with UAE in 2003 for entire border, including Oman's Musandam Peninsula and Al Madhah exclave, but details of the alignment have not been made public
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Oman is a destination country for men and women primarily from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan who migrate willingly, some of whom become victims of trafficking when subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude as domestic workers and laborers, including non-payment of wages, restrictions on movement and withholding of passports, threats, and physical or sexual abuse; Oman may also be a destination country for women from Asia, Eastern Europe, and North Africa for commercial sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 3 - Oman was downgraded to Tier 3 in the 2007 report because it did not report any law enforcement efforts to prosecute and punish trafficking offenses in 2006 and continues to lack victim protection services or a systematic procedure to identify victims of trafficking