Oman, officially called the Sultanate of Oman, is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the southeast and the Gulf of Oman on the northeast.
IT has been described as the world's most charming police state. Oman's ruler, Sultan Qaboos, who overthrew his father in 1970, now stands out as easily the longest-serving ruler in the Middle East, and perhaps as the world's only absolute monarch not to have a publicly designated successor.
In the Al Hajar Mountains of northern Oman, at the eastern edge of the Arabian Desert, high above the white terraces and minarets of Muscat, rain comes rarely and then in floods. Hajar means “rock” in Arabic, and the mountains are made of little else—a fractal landscape of umber and dusty limestone, thrust from the sea more than sixty-five million years ago and still shaped more by salt water than by sweet. When the clouds burst, as they do a few times a year, the rain skitters from the slopes like oil from a griddle, gathers into rivulets and swiftly moving sheets, and tumbles into the wadies that wind between peaks.
The various Omani courts are subordinate to the Sultan and subject to his influence in practice. All judges are appointed by the Sultan and serve at his pleasure. The Sultan acts as a court of final appeal and intercedes in cases of particular interest, such as those concerning national security. However, there have been no reported instances in which the Sultan has overturned a decision of the magistrate courts or the commercial courts.
Sultan Qaboos bin Sa'id rules Oman with the aid of his ministers. His dynasty, the Al Sa'id, was founded about 250 years ago by Imam Ahmed bin Sa'id. The sultan is a direct descendant of the l9th century ruler, Sa'id bin Sultan, who first opened relations with the United States in 1833. The Sultanate has neither political parties nor legislature, although the bicameral representative bodies provide the government with advice.
Before Sultan Qaboos seized power from his father in a 1970 coup, the country was isolated and had virtually no relations with the rest of the Arab world. Radios were banned. Citizens found outside the walls of the city after imposed curfews would be shot if they weren't carrying a lantern. From the support of Middle East peace initiatives to a recent increase in trade with China, the Sultan has strengthened Oman's relationships with countries around the world.
Oman is the only country in the Islamic world with a majority of Ibadhi Muslims (distinct from Shia and Sunni Muslims). Ibadhis are known for being moderately conservative and for choosing their ruler through communal consensus.
[In 1882,] Britain invades Egypt and bombards the city of Alexandria, making the country effectively a British colony. [In 1891,] Britain imposes "friendship treaty" on Oman, effectively making it a British protectorate.
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 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.
In Oman, demonstrations against Sultan Qaboos Bin Said began last week. The monarchy responded with repression, killing at least six people. But the government has created some 50,000 new state jobs and brought in a monthly benefit of £240 for unemployed workers. It also replaced six cabinet ministers.