Late the other night I started getting a bunch of views on one of my recent post. Curiously enough the majority of them were coming from a small country in the middle east, Oman. I had never heard of Oman before this but I do appreciate their interest in my poetry. I decided I ought to learn all I could about the country right there and then, and so I did what any twenty-first century small time researcher would do. I Googled it.
The first thing I saw about Oman was a map of it’s location.
As you can see it’s right off the corner of Saudi Arabia and Yemen and across from India, which are all places that I will admit I’m no great scholar of but I have heard quite a bit about in the news. A friend of mine worked at an embassy in India for a while too. Also to the side of Oman is the United Arab Emirates, a girl I use to hangout with quite often moved there for work with her husband and two kids. Now it is true that at this point we have pretty much been reduced to just Facebook friends but all the same I was surprised at myself for not knowing this region better. This led me to continue my research. Bellow I will offer a short synopsis of the information I gather. It’s going to be brief and extremely general but hopefully interesting all the same.
Oman is an Arab country of course, it is also an absolute monarchy which has held the same ruler since 1970. This is the longest of any country in the middle-east. Oman has comparatively low oil reserves for the area which rank 25th in the world, in 2010 the UNDP ranked Oman as the most improved nation in the world in terms of development during the preceding 40 years and it is considered a high-income economy. They are 1 of the 3 countries worldwide with paid family leave. It is also ranked as the 59th most peaceful country in the world out of 196. As of 2014 the USA is ranked 101. Forbes calls the top ten peaceful countries Iceland, Denmark, Austria, New Zealand, Switzerland, Finland, Canada, Japan, Australia, and the Czech Republic in that order.
Historically Oman is the location where many archaic stone tools have been discovered. This supports the proposition that early peoples moved from Africa into Arabia during the Late Pleistocene, which is what we call the phase before the final glacial episode or more simply put BCE. It is also the oldest known human settlement in the area, dating back as many as 8,000 years to the Late Stone Age. Findings that include stone implements, animal bones, shells and fire hearths have come out of the area. So as you can surmise a lot of human history began in Oman and I was once again surprised I don’t remember this from school, guess that’s what I get for dropping my archaeology class.
From the 6th century BCE to the arrival of Islam in the 7th century, Oman was controlled and/or influenced by three Persian dynasties known as the Achaemenids, Parthians and Sassanids. Four centuries later the people of Oman were among the first to come into contact with and accept the teachings of Islam.
From 1507 to 1650 the Portuguese occupied the land known today as Oman. Then in the 1690s the Imam, who the country would become named after, made his way down the Swahili coast. Then much later in 1913 control of the country split. The interior was ruled by imams and the coastal areas by the sultan. Under the terms of the British-brokered treaty in 1920, the sultan recognized the autonomy of the interior portion.
The sultan ruled with an isolationist approach which was held until about 1954 when imam Ghalib Al Hinai was elected. That went on more or less until oil reserves were discovered in 1964, and then again in 1970 Hinai’s son lead a bloodless coop which was put down in 1975 with the help of forces from Iran, Jordan, Pakistan and the British Royal Air Force. This brings us to the reign of Sultan Qaboos.
In 2002, voting rights were extended to all citizens over the age of 21, and the first elections to the Consultative Assembly under the new rules were held in 2003.
In 2004, the Sultan appointed Oman’s first female minister. Despite all these well-meaning changes though the Sultan continued to rule and this is what lead to the Arab Spring.
The above are a few remarkable pictures of Oman’s exquisite landscape and wild life.
Oman has a hot and dry interior where all of it’s cities, including the capital, are located while it’s sparsely populated coast is very humid. The central desert of Oman is also an important source of meteorites used for scientific analysis.
Water is in short supply across this beautiful desert due to limited rainfall. Ninety-four percent of all available water is understandably used in farming and only two percent can be spared for industrial activity. The remaining percent is piped or bottled as drinking water available throughout the country. Coastal soils also notably have a high level of salinity due to encroaching sea waters.