Oman

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Posted by bender 02/25/2009 @ 15:26

Tags : oman, arabian peninsula, world

News headlines
Kish gas heading for Oman - Offshore Oil and Gas Magazine
The field, which has in-place gas reserves of 48 tcf, will initially produce 1 bcf/d, some of which will be exported to Oman through a 200-km (124-mi) seabed pipeline. At the First International Exploration Oil Conference in Shiraz, nioc's MD,...
Oman reviews pilot projects for solar, wind - Cleantech Group
The government of Oman is reviewing six pilot projects to harness energy from wind and solar, as well as recruiting international advisers to conduct a feasibility study for a large solar plant. The news comes as the government is establishing policies...
Book on Gujaratis in Oman to be released - Times of India
But, some success stories of this community continue to amaze us like the two Gujarati families in the Sultanate of Oman that run businesses over 15 and 10 generations. It is this extraordinary story of rich cultural history and entrepreneurial saga of...
Associate Director - Oman - news.careerstructure.com
These are situated in Abu Dhabi, Oman, Dubai and across Europe. The Oman business is a major success story; currently employing a team of 20consultants, primarily providing services to support clients in the areas of dispute resolution and avoidance,...
Oman Sail Extreme 40 Teams Prepare For Inaugural Italian Event - ScubaWeb
Amongst the ten teams will be two from Oman, Masirah and Renaissance, with both sporting the branding of Oman as well as Omani sailors. Masirah is the flagship of the Oman Sail project in the ishares Cup and successfully competed last season and took...
Larijani meets Omani counterpart in Sanaa - ISNA
Meeting with the Chairman of Oman Majlis Shora (Parliament) Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Isaee, in Sanaa on Wednesday, Ali Larijani said the Arab country has meaningful part in balancing regional issues. Iran tries to have the friendliest relations...
Oman: Govt mulls cost-reflective power tariffs to boost energy ... - Zawya
Speaking at the opening of a seminar on 'Energy Efficiency', organised by the Authority for Electricity Regulation Oman, Al Mahrouqi said the initiatives include energy metering, monitoring and conservation programmes, alongside plans for the use of...
Oman invites bid for two power projects to generate 1300 MW - Emirates Business 24/7
Oman has called for Expressions of Interest (EoI) for two separate projects as part of its plans to enhance power generation capacity to 1300 MW. Requesting EoIs, the Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), a wholly-owned entity of the...
Oman IT Show to Focus on Green Technology - Khaleej Times
MUSCAT — Oman's largest annual IT, telecom and technology show is going green this year. 'Comex 2009', to be held at the Oman International Exhibition Centre from May 25 to 29, will feature a full range of environment-friendly solutions especially...
Lufthansa bids low for Muscat airport work - MEED (subscription)
Lufthansa Consulting is the lowest bidder for a contract to design and supervise the construction of cargo facilities at the new Muscat International airport. The consulting division of the German airline is the favourite to win the job after...

Geography of Oman

Oman is a country situated in Southwest Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Persian Gulf, between Yemen and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Oman is located in the southeastern quarter of the Arabian Peninsula and, according to official estimates, covers a total land area of approximately 300,000 square kilometers; foreign observer estimates, however, are about 212,000 square kilometers. The land area is composed of varying topographic features: valleys and desert account for 82 percent of the land mass; mountain ranges, 15 percent; and the coastal plain, 3 percent.

The sultanate is flanked by the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, and the Rub al Khali (Empty Quarter) of Saudi Arabia, all of which contributed to Oman's isolation. Historically, the country's contacts with the rest of the world were by sea, which not only provided access to foreign lands but also linked the coastal towns of Oman. The Rub al Khali, difficult to cross even with modern desert transport, formed a barrier between the sultanate and the Arabian interior. The Al Hajar Mountains, which form a belt between the coast and the desert from the Musandam Peninsula (Ras Musandam) to the city of Sur at Oman's easternmost point, formed another barrier. These geographic barriers kept the interior of Oman free from foreign military encroachments.

Natural features divide the country into seven distinct areas: Ruus al Jibal, including the northern Musandam Peninsula; the Al Batinah coastal plain; the Muscat-Matrah coastal area; the Oman interior, comprising Jabal al Akhdar (Green Mountain), its foothills, and desert fringes; the barren coastline south to Dhofar; Dhofar region in the south; and the offshore island of Masirah.

The northernmost area, Ruus al Jibal, extends from the Musandam Peninsula to the boundary with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at Hisn al Diba. It borders the Strait of Hormuz, which links the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman, and is separated from the rest of the sultanate by a strip of territory belonging to the UAE. This area consists of low mountains forming the northernmost extremity of the Al Hajar al Gharbi (Western Al Hajar) Mountains. Two inlets, Elphinstone (Khawr ash Shamm) and Malcom (Ghubbat al Ghazirah), cleave the coastline about one third of the distance from the Strait of Hormuz and at one point are separated by only a few hundred meters of land. The coastline is extremely rugged, and the Elphinstone Inlet, sixteen kilometers long and surrounded by cliffs 1,000 to 1,250 meters high, has frequently been compared with fjords in Norway.

The UAE territory separating Ruus al Jibal from the rest of Oman extends almost as far south as the coastal town of Shinas. A narrow, well-populated coastal plain known as Al Batinah runs from the point at which the sultanate is reentered to the town of As Sib, about 140 kilometers to the southeast. Across the plains, a number of wadis, heavily populated in their upper courses, descend from the Al Hajar al Gharbi Mountains to the south. A ribbon of oases, watered by wells and underground channels (falaj), extends the length of the plain, about ten kilometers inland.

South of As Sib, the coast changes character. For about 175 kilometers, from As Sib to Ras al Hadd, it is barren and bounded by cliffs almost its entire length; there is no cultivation and little habitation. Although the deep water off this coast renders navigation relatively easy, there are few natural harbors or safe anchorages. The two best are at Muscat and Matrah, where natural harbors facilitated the growth of cities centuries ago.

West of the coastal areas lies the tableland of central Oman. The Al Hajar Mountains form two ranges: the Al Hajar al Gharbi Mountains and the Al Hajar ash Sharqi (Eastern Al Hajar) Mountains. They are divided by the Wadi Samail (the largest wadi in the mountain zone), a valley that forms the traditional route between Muscat and the interior. The general elevation is about 1,200 meters, but the peaks of the high ridge known as Al Jabal al Akhdar (Green Mountain)--which is considered a separate area but is actually part of the Al Hajar al Gharbi Mountains--rise to more than 3,000 meters in some places. Al Jabal al Akhdar is the only home of the Arabian tahr, a unique species of wild goat. In the hope of saving this rare animal, Sultan Qabus ibn Said has declared part of Al Jabal al Akhdar a national park. Behind the Al Hajar al Gharbi Mountains are two inland regions, Az Zahirah and inner Oman, separated by the lateral range of the Rub al Khali. Adjoining the Al Hajar ash Sharqi Mountains are the sandy regions of Ash Sharqiyah and Jalan, which also border the desert.

Dhofar region extends from Ras ash Sharbatat to the border of Yemen. Its exact northern limit has never been defined, but the territory claimed by the sultan includes the Wadi Mughshin, about 240 kilometers inland. Its capital, Salalah, was the permanent residence of Sultan Said ibn Taimur Al Said and the birthplace of the present sultan, Qabus ibn Said. The highest peaks are about 1,000 meters. At their base lies a narrow, pebbly desert adjoining the Rub al Khali to the north.

The desolate coastal tract from Jalan to Ras Naws has no specific name. Low hills and wastelands meet the sea for long distances. Midway along this coast and about fifteen kilometers offshore is the barren Masirah island. Stretching about seventy kilometers, the island occupies a strategic location near the entry point to the Gulf of Oman from the Arabian Sea. Because of its location, it became the site of military facilities used first by the British and then by the United States, following an access agreement signed in 1980 by the United States and Oman.

With the exception of Dhofar region, which has a strong monsoon climate and receives warm winds from the Indian Ocean, the climate of Oman is extremely hot and dry most of the year.

Summer begins in mid-April and lasts until October. The highest temperatures are registered in the interior, where readings of more than 53°C in the shade are common. On the Al Batinah plain, summer temperatures seldom exceed 47°C, but, because of the low elevation, the humidity may be as high as 90 percent. The mean summer temperature in Muscat is 33°C, but the gharbi (literally, western), a strong wind that blows from the Rub al Khali, can raise temperatures from the towns on the Gulf of Oman by 6°C to 10°C.

Winter temperatures are mild and pleasant, ranging between 18°C and 26 degrees.

Precipitation on the coasts and on the interior plains ranges from twenty to 100 millimeters a year and falls during mid- and late winter. Rainfall in the mountains, particularly over Al Jabal al Akhdar, is much higher and may reach 900 millimeters.

Because the plateau of Al Jabal al Akhdar is porous limestone, rainfall seeps quickly through it, and the vegetation, which might be expected to be more lush, is meager. However, a huge reservoir under the plateau provides springs for low-lying areas. In addition, an enormous wadi channels water to these valleys, making the area agriculturally productive in years of good rainfall.

Dhofar, benefiting from a southwest monsoon between June and September, receives heavier rainfall and has constantly running streams, which make the region Oman's most fertile area.

Oman was hit by Cyclone Gonu on June 6. Large areas in the capital area region in the Governorate of Muscat and in Amerat and Quriyat were severely affected. Gonu first hit the southern city of Sur late on June 5, 2007. Oman is one of the few countries with no National Red Crescent or Red Cross Society.

Natural hazards: Summer winds often raise large sandstorms and dust storms in the interior during periodic droughts. Following rain, Wadis can fill with rainwater water and vast tracts of land can be flooded.

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Oman

National Emblem of Oman

Oman (Arabic: عمان‎ transliteration: ‘Umān), officially the Sultanate of Oman (Arabic: سلطنة عُمان‎ transliteration: 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, Saudi Arabia on the west and Yemen on the southwest. The coast is formed by the Persian 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.

Oman is a very ancient word and appears on very old maps. Little information exists regarding the origin of the word Oman: opinions of Arab geographers and historians differ greatly as to the origin of the name, some sources ascribing it to the Qahtani tribe of Oman and others linking it linguistically to a word meaning "settling" or "staying". Ibn al-Qabi says that Oman means "those who occupy a place", as in the adjective aamen or amoun (settled man), and that the word "Oman" was derived from this.

Some say that Oman was named after Oman bin Ibrahim al Khalil who built the city of Oman. Others believe the name to be taken from that of Oman bin Loot. Yet another explanation is that the Azd, a tribe migrating from Yemen to Oman in pre-Islamic times, labeled Oman "Omana" because they came from a valley in Ma'rib in Yemen which went by the name of Oman, and they likened it to this place.

One of the earliest Roman historians to mention Oman is Pliny the Elder, who lived from 23-79 AD, who mentions a city Omana or Ommana among places in Arabia, as do the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea and the later Geography of Claudius Ptolemy. Some historians identify this Omana of Ptolemy as the city of Sohar, which was the pre-eminent trading center of Arabia in the classical age of Islam.

From the 6th century BC to the arrival of Islam in the 7th century AD, Oman was controlled and/or influenced by three persian dynasties, the Achaemenids, Parthians and Sassanids. Achaemenids in the 6th century BC controlled and influenced the Oman peninsula. This was most likely exerted from a coastal center such as Sohar. By about 250 B.C. the 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 the area until the rise of Islam four centuries later.

On the advent of Islam, the faith reached Oman during the Prophet Muhammad's lifetime. The conversion of Omanis is usually ascribed to Amr ibn al-As, who visited the region by the middle of the eighth century AD. 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.

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 various 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.

In the 1690s Saif bin Sultan, the imam of Oman, pressed down the east African coast. A major obstacle was Fort Jesus, housing the garrison of a Portuguese settlement at Mombasa. After a two-year siege, it fell to Saif in 1698. Thereafter the Omanis easily ejected the Portuguese from Zanzibar and from all other coastal regions north of Mozambique. Zanzibar was a valuable property as the main slave market of the east African coast, and became an increasingly important part of the Omani empire, a fact reflected by the decision of the greatest 19th century sultan of Oman, Sa'id ibn Sultan, to make it from 1837 his main place of residence. Sa'id built impressive palaces and gardens in Zanzibar. He improved the island's economy by introducing cloves, sugar and indigo though at the same time he accepted a financial loss in cooperating with British attempts to end Zanzibar's slave trade. The link with Oman was broken after his death in 1856. Rivalry between his two sons was resolved, with the help of forceful British diplomacy, when one of them, Majid, succeeded to Zanzibar and to the many regions claimed by the family on the east African coast. The other, Thuwaini, inherited Muscat and Oman.

The Dhofar Rebellion was launched in the province of Dhofar against the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman and Britain from 1962 to 1975. It ended with the defeat of the rebels, but the state of Oman had to be radically reformed and modernized to cope with the campaign.

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 seats. Two women were elected to seats. The country today has three women ministers Rawiyah bint Saud al Busaidiyah - Minister of Higher Education, Sharifa bint Khalfan al Yahya'eyah - Minister of Social Development and Rajiha bint Abdulamir bin Ali - Minister of Tourism. There are no legal political parties nor, at present, any active opposition movement. As more and more young Omanis return from education abroad, it seems likely that the traditional, tribal-based political system will have to be adjusted. A State Consultative Council, established in 1981, consisted of 55 appointed representatives of government, the private sector, and regional interests.

Oman's armed forces, including Royal Household troops foreign personnel numbered 41,700 in 2002. The army had 25,000 personnel equipped with over 100 main battle tanks and 37 Scorpion tanks. The air force of 4,100 operates 40 combat aircraft. The navy numbers 4,200 with 13 patrol and coastal combatants. Paramilitary includes the Tribal Home Guard (Firqats) of 4,000 organized in small tribal teams, a police coast guard of 400, and a small police air wing. The elite Royal Household brigade, naval unit, and air unit number 6,400, including 2 special forces regiments. In 2001 Oman spent $2.4 billion on defense or 12.2% of GDP.

The Sultanate is divided into nine governorates and regions. Each governorate consists of states share common cultures, habits, Arabic dialects, history, traditional clothing and traditional occupations.

The Governorate of Muscat is the most densely populated region in the Sultanate with a population of more than half a million. It is Oman's political, economic, and administrative center. Muscat is host to a balance between the traditional heritage of Omani society and the modern contemporary features. This preserves Oman’s historical and cultural identity while presenting Muscat's embrace of modernity.

The Governorate of Dhofar is in the far south of the Sultanate and borders on the Wusta Region the east, the Arabian Sea to the south, the Republic of Yemen to the west and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the north and north-west.

The Governorate of Musandam lies in extreme north of the Sultanate. It is separated from the rest of the Sultanate by a strip of United Arab Emirates land. It is distinguished for its strategic location, with a section of it known as Ras Musandam overlooking the international water passage called the Strait of Hormuz.

It is worth noting that not the whole of the Strait is good for navigation. The part suitable for sea navigation falls within the territorial waters of the Sultanate, requiring Omanis to shoulder a large responsibility in organizing navigation in this Strait since the old ages. The strategic importance of this Strait has increased recently, as it has become a crossing point for 90% of the Persian Gulf's oil shipped to all over the world.

The Governorate of Buraimi is situated in the northwest corner of the Sultanate, adjacent to the borders with United Arab Emirates . It has a number of historic forts and houses. Its main forts are al Khandaq, which has been adopted as the emblem of the Governorate , and Al Hillah Fort. Both these forts have recently been restored by the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture.

Batinah Region occupies a coastal strip along the Gulf of Oman from the state of Barka in the south to Khatmat Malahah in the state of Shinas to the north. The wide strip is enclosed by the Gulf of Oman to the east and the foothills of the Western Hajar mountains to the west.

Ad Dhahirah Region is a semi desert plain which slopes from the southern fool of Al Hajr AI Gharbi Mountains towards the Empty Quarter. It is separated from A’Dakhliyah Region by Al Kur Mountain to the East; it joins the Empty Quarter from the West and Wusta Region from the south. state of Ibri is distinguished for its unique location which joins the Sultanate with other areas in the Arabian Peninsula.

The Dakhiliah Region is rich in economic and natural resources and has numerous tourist attractions including forts, castles, towers, old residential quarters and historic mosques. The state of Nizwa has a famous and imposing fort, several old mosques and a traditional souq, while Bahla Fort is one of the treasures of the human heritage. Misfah al Abriyeen in the state of al Hamra is a splendid example of a hanging village.

The Sharqiyah Region forms the northeast coast of Oman and overlooks the Arabian Sea from the east. It includes the internal side of Al Hajr Al sharqi mountains which join it from the north. It also joins Wahibah Sand from the south and Dakhliah Region from the west. The city of Sur is one of the regional centers and the most important of Sharqiyah cities. It played a historical rule in trade and navigation in the Indian Ocean. It was also known for ship building, as it was the most renowned city in the Arabian Peninsula in ship building in the last century. Besides marine activity and ship building, Sur is famous for some historical tourist destinations such as caves. It is also well-known for its wood industries, textiles and agricultural crops.

The Wusta Region is situated to the south of both Dakhliah and Dhahirah Regions, at the east side it is linked to the Arabian Sea, at the west to the Empty Quarter and at the south to Governorate of Dhofar. It includes a large central area of the Sultanate. It is distinguished for having a great number of oil wells.

A vast gravel desert plain covers most of central Oman, with mountain ranges along the north (al Jebel al Akhdar) and southeast coast, where the country's main cities are also located: the capital city Muscat, Matrah and Sur in the north, and Salalah in the south. Oman's climate is hot and dry in the interior and humid along the coast. During past epochs Oman was covered by ocean. Fossilized shells exist in great numbers in areas of the desert away from the modern coastline. The peninsula of Musandam (Musandem), which has a strategic location on the Strait of Hormuz, is separated from the rest of Oman by the United Arab Emirates and is thus an exclave. The series of small towns known collectively as Dibba are the gateway to the Musandam peninsula on land and the fishing villages of Musandam by sea. Boats may be hired at Khasab for trips into the Musandam peninsula by sea. Oman has one other exclave, inside UAE territory, known as Madha. It is located halfway between the Musandam Peninsula and the rest of Oman. Belonging to Musandam governorate, it covers approximately 75 km² (29 sq mi). The boundary was settled in 1969. The north-east corner of Madha is closest to the Fujairah road, barely 10 m (32.8 ft) away. Within the exclave is a UAE enclave called Nahwa, belonging to the Emirate of Sharjah. It is about 8 km (5 mi) on a dirt track west of the town of New Madha. It consists of about forty houses with its own clinic and telephone exchange.

Annual rainfall in Muscat averages 10 cm (4 in), falling mostly in January. Dhofar is subject to the southwest monsoon, and rainfall up to 64 cm (25 in) has been recorded in the rainy season from late June to October. While the mountain areas receive more plentiful rainfall, some parts of the coast, particularly near the island of Masirah, sometimes receive no rain at all within the course of a year. The climate generally is very hot, with temperatures reaching 54°C (129°F) in the hot season, from May to October.

Desert shrub and desert grass, common to southern Arabia, are found. Vegetation is sparse in the interior plateau, which is largely gravel desert. The greater monsoon rainfall in Dhofar and the mountains makes the growth there more luxuriant during summer. Coconut palms grow plentifully in Dhofar and Frankincense grows in the hills. Oleander and varieties of Acacia abound.

Indigenous mammals include the Leopard, Hyena, Fox, Wolf, and Hare, Oryx, Ibex, Tahr. Birds include the Vulture, Eagle, Stork, Bustard, Arabian Partridge, Bee Eater, Falcon and Sunbird.

Maintaining an adequate supply of water for agricultural and domestic use is Oman's most pressing environmental problem. The nation has limited renewable water resources, with 94% used in farming and 2% for industrial activity. Drinking water is available throughout the country, either piped or delivered. Both drought and limited rainfall contribute to shortages in the nation's water supply. The nation's soil has shown increased levels of salinity. Pollution of beaches and other coastal areas by oil tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman is also a persistent problem. In 2001, the nation had nine endangered species of mammals and five endangered types of bird. Nineteen plant species are also threatened with extinction. Decrees have been passed to protect endangered species, which include the Arabian Leopard, Arabian oryx, mountain gazelle, goitered gazelle, Arabian tahr, green sea turtle, hawksbill turtle and olive ridley turtle.

The Ministry of Economy estimates that in mid 2006 the total population was 2.577 million. Of those, 1.844 million were Omanis. The population has grown from 2.018 million in the 1993 census to 2.340 million in the 2003 census.In Oman, about 50% of the population lives in Muscat and the Batinah coastal plain northwest of the capital; about 200,000 live in the Dhofar (southern) region, and about 30,000 live in the remote Musandam Peninsula on the Strait of Hormuz. Some 600,000 expatriates live in Oman, most of whom are guest workers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Jordan, India and the Philippines.

Islam makes up 99% Of total population. To be more specific, about 50% are Ibadhi Muslims. Sunni Muslims account for 40% of the population, while Ja'fari jurisprudence Muslims make ups 7%. The remaining 3% of the population are Hindus, Christians and other minorities, most of whom are expatriates.

The Government does not keep statistics on religious affiliation, but most citizens are either Ibadhi or Sunni Muslims. Shi'a Muslims form a small but well-integrated minority of less than 5 percent of the population, concentrated in the capital area and along the northern coast. Ibadhism, a form of Islam distinct from Shi'ism and the "orthodox" schools of Sunnism, historically has been the country's dominant religious group, and the Sultan is a member of the Ibadhi community.

Non-Muslim religious communities individually constitute less than 5 percent of the population and include various groups of Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Baha'is, and Christians. Christian communities are centered in the major urban areas of Muscat, Sohar, and Salalah and include Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and various Protestant congregations. These groups tend to organize along linguistic and ethnic lines. More than fifty different Christian groups, fellowships, and assemblies are active in the Muscat metropolitan area. The majority of non-Muslims are noncitizen immigrant workers from South Asia, although there are small communities of ethnic Indian Hindus and Christians that have been naturalized.

Omani citizens enjoy good living standards, but the future is uncertain with Oman's limited oil reserves. The other sources of income, agriculture and local industries, are small in comparison and count for less than 1% of the country's exports. Agriculture, often subsistence in its character, produces Dates, Limes, Grains and vegetables. Less than 1% of the country is under cultivation but, in general, food has to be imported. Industries contribute only with 4%, but there are governmental plans to increase this.

Oil production is extracted and processed by Petroleum Development Oman. In recent years, proven oil reserves have been holding approximately steady, although oil production has been decreasing. Oman has other mineral resources including Copper, Asbestos and Marble, but this is little exploited.

Commercial export of oil began in 1967 and since Sultan Qaboos' accession to the throne in 1970, many more oil fields have been found and developed. In June 1999, PDO discovered a new oil field in southern Oman after drilling and testing three wells which demonstrated the commercial viability of the reservoir. This is the most significant find in five years. Work is continuing on the RO 503.876 million ( US$1,300 million ) oil refinery project in Sohar, which was due to go into operation in 2006 with a 116,400 barrels a day refining capacity. In 2004, Oman Oil Refinery was supplied with about 78,200 barrels a day for refining, while PDO began using steam injection technology in several wells to increase their productivity. Oman's future economy is expected to depend on Sohar, which is growing very fast.

Oman's mineral resources include chromite, dolomite, zinc, limestone, gypsum, silicon, copper, gold, cobalt and iron. Several industries have grown up around them as part of the national development process which, in turn, have boosted the minerals sector’s contribution to the nation’s GDP as well as providing jobs for Omanis.

Copper has been mined in Oman for thousands of years. The mineral sector’s operations include mining and quarrying. Several projects have recently been completed including: an economic feasibility study on silica ore in Wadi Buwa and Abutan in the Wusta Region, which confirmed that there were exploitable reserves of around 28 million tonnes at the two sites; a feasibility study on the production of magnesium metal from dolomite ore; a draft study on processing limestone derivatives; a project to produce geological maps of the Sharqiyah Region ; economic feasibility studies on the exploitation of gold and copper ores in the Ghaizeen area; a study on raw materials in the wilayats of Duqm and Sur for use in the Sultanate’s cement industry; and a study on the construction of a new minerals laboratory in Ghala in the Governorate of Muscat.

The industrial sector is a cornerstone of the Sultanate’s long-term (1996-2020) development strategy. Industry is not only one of the main sectors involved in diversifying the sources of national income and reducing dependence on oil; it is also capable of helping to meet Oman’s social development needs and generate greater added value for national resources by processing them into manufactured products.

The Seventh Five-Year Development Plan creates the conditions for an attractive investment climate. Under its strategy for the industrial sector the government also aims to develop the information technology and telecommunications industries. The Knowledge Oasis Muscat complex has been set up and expanded, and Omani companies are developing their technological potential through collaboration with various Japanese and German institutions.

There is also an industrial estate in Sohar - where the Sultanate’s heavy industries are based - as well as other estates in Sur, Salalah, Nizwa and Buraimi. Natural gas is transported to the industrial estates in Sohar and Salalah, helping to promote expansion of those industries that depend on natural gas; the government grants these industries tax exemptions, as an incentive to encourage their expansion and development. By 2020 the industrial sector is expected to contribute 15% to the country’s GDP.

The Omani economy has been radically transformed over a series of development plans beginning with the First Five­-year Plan (1976-1980). At Sultan Qaboos's instruction, a vision of Oman's economic future up to the year 2020 was set out at the end of the first phase of the country's develop­ment 1970-1995. Vision 2020, outlined the country's economic and social goals over the 25 years of the second phase of the development process (1996­-2020).

A free-trade agreement with the United States took effect 1 January 2009, eliminating tariff barriers on all consumer and industrial products. It also provides strong protections for foreign businesses investing 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). Jebel Shams is Oman's tallest mountain, highest point, and is a popular destination for camping. Most of the major malls are located in Muscat, the capital. The largest mall in the country is the Muscat City Centre which was built by Majid hFuttaim, an Emirati business man. Other popular tourist activities include sand skiing in the desert, mountain-climbing, camel racing, and camping.

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.

The estimated workforce was 920,000 in 2002. A large proportion of the population were still engaged in subsistence agriculture or fishing. The skilled local labour force is small, and many of the larger industries depend on foreign workers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, India, and Sri Lanka — foreign laborers constituted over 80% of the modern-sector workforce in 1996.

Omani law does not provide the right of union formation. The law forbids a strike for any reason. Collective bargaining is not permitted, however there exist labour-management committees in firms with more than 50 workers. These committees are not authorized to discuss conditions of employment, including hours and wages. The Labour Welfare Board provides a venue for grievances.

The minimum working age is 13, but this provision is not enforced against the employment of children in family businesses or on family farms. The minimum wage for non-professional workers was $260 per month in 2002. However, many classes of workers (domestic servants, farmers, government employees) are not required to receive the minimum wage and the government is not consistent in its enforcement of the minimum wage law. The private sector working week is 40 to 45 hours long, while government officials have a 35-hour working week.

As oil prices have risen to a record high, so has inflation. The government depends mostly on oil revenue, more than on tax returns from companies and other government-owned companies. The government is also Oman's largest employer, so the high interest that government gets increases the prices of food and construction equipment. The government did support the fuel prices so it doesn't increase the inflation and to make the price suitable for people on low wages.

In 2006, government employee salaries were increased by 15%, placing Oman in the category of high-medium income countries. and a year after increase employees' were also increased in salaries so, employees with low wages have a higher increase that may go up to 48% and employees who earn more get a lesser increase in their salaries which end at 5%. The minimum wage has been changed from 120 Rial a month to 140 Rials because of high records of inflation driven by high prices of oil.

Before 1970, only three formal schools existed in the whole country with less than 1000 students receiving education in them. Since Sultan Qaboos came to power in 1970, the government has given high priority to education to develop a domestic work force, which the government considers a vital factor in the country's economic and social progress. Today there are over 1000 state schools and about 650,000 students. In 1986, Oman's first university, Sultan Qaboos University, opened. Other post secondary institutions include a law school, technical college, banking institute, teachers training college, and health sciences institute. Some 200 scholarships are awarded each year for study abroad.

Pre-university education in Oman has three stages: primary, preparatory, and secondary. Six years of primary schooling are followed by preparatory school. Academic results of the preparatory exams determine the type of secondary education the student will receive.

Nine private colleges exist, providing 2-year post secondary diplomas. Since 1999, the government has embarked on reforms in higher education designed to meet the needs of a growing population, only a small percentage of which are currently admitted to higher education institutions. Under the reformed system, four public regional universities will be created, and incentives are provided by the government to promote the upgrading of the existing nine private colleges and the creation of other degree-granting private colleges.

The adult illiteracy rate was estimated at 28.1% for the year 2000 (males, 19.6%; females, 38.3%). In 1998, there were 411 primary schools with 313,516 students and 12,052 teachers. Student-to-teacher ratio stood at 26 to 1. In secondary schools in 1998, there were 12,436 teachers and 217,246 students. As of 1999, 65% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, while 59% of those eligible attended secondary school. In the same year, public expenditure on education was estimated at3.9% of GDP. In 1993, there were 252 literacy centers and 176 adult education centers. Three teachers' colleges were functioning as of 1986. The Institute of Agriculture at Nazwa became a full college by 1985. Sultan Qaboos University opened in 1986. In 1998, all higher-level institutions had 1,307 teachers and 16,032 students.

There are three morning daily newspapers and one weeekly paper printed from the country. Oman Daily Observer is the government-owned paper and some of its prominent scribes include Samba Babal Sawant.

Most research conducted in Oman has been done at the behest of the government; agriculture, minerals, water resources, and marine sciences have drawn the most attention. Sultan Qaboos University, founded in 1985, has colleges of science, medicine, engineering, and agriculture. In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 13% of college and university enrollments. The Institute of Health Sciences, under the Ministry of Health, was founded in 1982. Muscat Technical Industrial College, founded in 1984, has departments of computing and mathematics, laboratory science, and electrical, construction, and mechanical engineering. The Oman Natural History Museum, founded in 1983, includes the national herbarium and the national shell collection. All of these organizations are located in Muscat.

As of 1999, there were an estimated 1.3 physicians and 2.2 hospital beds per 1,000 people. In 1993, 89% of the population had access to health care services. In 2000, 39% of the population had access to health care services..

Although Arabic is Oman's official language, there are native speakers of different dialects, as well as Balochi (the language of the Baloch from western-Pakistan and eastern Iran), or offshoots of Southern Arabian, a Semitic language only distantly related to Arabic, but closely related to Semitic languages in Eritrea and Ethiopia. Swahili and French are also widely spoken in the country due to the historical relations between Oman and Zanzibar the two languages have been linked historically. The dominant indigenous language is a dialect of Arabic and the country has also adopted English as a second language. Almost all signs and writings appear in both Arabic and English. A significant number also speak Hindi, due to the influx of Indian migrants during the late 1980s and the 1990s.

Oman is famous for its khanjar knives, which are curved daggers worn during holidays as part of ceremonial dress. Today traditional clothing is worn by most Omani men. They wear an ankle-length, collarless robe called a dishdasha that buttons at the neck with a tassel hanging down. Traditionally this tassel would be dipped in perfume. Today the tassel is merely a traditional part of the dishdasha.

Women wear hijabs and abayas. Some women cover their faces and hands, but most do not. The abaya is a traditional dress and it is currently having different styles. The Sultan has forbidden the covering of faces in public office. On holidays, such as Eid, the women wear traditional dress, which is often very brightly colored and consists of a mid-calf length tunic over pants.

A very important part of Omani culture is hospitality. If invited into an Omani house, a visitor is likely to be greeted with a bowl of dates, qahwa (coffee with cardamom - standard Arabic قهوة) and fruit. The coffee is served fairly weak in a small cup, which should be shaken after three servings to show that you have finished. The dates are in lieu of sugar. Halwa and other sweets are often given at celebrations such as Eids.

The Cuisine of Oman is fairly simple and often utilizes marinades and the impregnating of meats with spices. Chicken, fish, and mutton are regularly used in dishes. A favorite drink is laban, a salty, buttermilk yogurt drink, flavored with cardamom. Dates, dry fruits and pistachio nuts are also very popular.

The national dress for Omani men is a simple, ankle-length, collarless gown with long sleeves called the dishdasha. Underneath the dishdasha, a plain piece of cloth covering the body is worn from the waist down. Omani men may wear a variety of head dresses. The mussar is a square of finely woven woollen or cotton fabric, wrapped and folded into a turban. Underneath this, the kummah, an intricately embroidered cap, is sometimes worn. The shal, a long strip of cloth acting as a holder for the khanjar may be made from the same material as the mussar. Alternatively, the holder may be fashioned in the former of a belt made from leather and silver. On formal occasions, the dishdasha may be covered by a black or beige cloak, called a bisht. The embroidery edging the cloak is often in silver or gold thread and it is intricate in detail. Some men carry a stick, which can have practical uses or is simply used as an accessory during formal events.

Omani women have very colourful costumes which vary from region to region. The main components of a woman's outfit comprise a dress which is worn over trousers (sirwal) and the headdress, called the lihaf or hijab. There are numerous traditional styles of Omani costume seen in Muscat. However, there are three main types which show vibrant colours, embroidery and decorations. One style of costume is rather flowing and resembles that worn by the women of the Interior, while another is decorated with distinctive silver bands. The embroidery on these dresses can take around two months to complete. In the Dhofar region(محافظة ظفار), the dress is known as the "Abu Dhail" which means 'one with a tail'. This dress is shorter at the front than at the rear and is made from luxurious velvet or cotton, shot with gold and silver embroidery, beads and sequins. It has a square neckline and is generally worn with a lightweight, cotton or silk sh'ela "head dress" which may also be sewn with pearls, sequins and sometimes small gold coins for special celebrations. Elaborate jewellery is often worn with this dress, around the head, neck, wrists, ankles, fingers and toes. Older ladies, originating from the desert and the mountains may do so.

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 2009 Gulf Cup of Nations, the 19th edition, took place in Muscat, Oman, from 4 January to 17 January 2009 and was won by Oman.

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.

Oman's political challenges are primarily around succession plans. The democratic institutions and processes are still in early development and have not experienced real power. There is some risk of destabilization by radicals backed by militant groups or rogue states.

Oman's Musandam peninsula is a strategic asset which may become contested in future. Strong military ties with the United Kingdom and the GCC countries helps maintain stability. The growing power of Iran is a concern.

The demographic challenges are, like in other GCC countries, that a large proportion of the population are non-citizens.

The economic challenge is over-dependence on oil. While this is a benefit during oil price spikes, it is a risk during downturns.

For dependent and other territories, see Dependent territory.

1 Partly or significantly in Europe.  2 The Republic of China (Taiwan) is not officially recognized by the United Nations; see Political status of Taiwan. 3 Partly or significantly in Africa.  4 Partly or wholly reckoned in Oceania.

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History of the Jews in Oman

Geographic location of Oman

There was a Jewish presence in Oman for many centuries, however, the Jewish community of the country is no longer existent.

Some of the earliest Jewish history in what is now Oman is associated with the Biblical figure Job. The Tomb of Job is located in Jabal Dohfar 45 miles from the port city of Salalah.

The subsequent, more documented Omani Jewish community was made famous by Ishaq bin Yahuda, a merchant who lived in the 9th century. Bin Yahuda lived in Sohar, and sailed for China between the years of 882 and 912 after an argument with a Jewish colleague, where he made a great fortune. He returned to Shoar and sailed for China again, but his ship was seized and bin Yahuda was murdered at the port of Sumatra.

A historical journey to visit far-flung Jewish communities was undertaken by Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela from 1165 to 1173 that crossed and tracked some of the areas that are today in the geographic area of Oman. His trek began as a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He may have hoped to settle there, but there is controversy about the reasons for his travels. It has been suggested he may have had a commercial motive as well as a religious one. On the other hand, he may have intended to catalogue the Jewish communities on the route to the Holy Land so as to provide a guide to where hospitality may have been found for Jews travelling to the Holy Land. He took the "long road" stopping frequently, meeting people, visiting places, describing occupations and giving a demographic count of Jews in every town and country.

One of the known towns that Benjamin of Tudela reported as having a Jewish community was Muscat located in the area of Oman in the northern part of the Arabian Peninsula.

In the mid 19th century, the British Lieutenant J.R. Wellsted documented the Jews of Muscat in his memoirs Travels in Arabia, vol. 1. He mentions that there are "a few Jews in Muskat (sic), who mostly arrived there in 1828, being driven from Baghdad . . .by the cruelties and extortions of the Pacha Daud." He also notes that Jews were not discriminated against at all in Oman, which was not the case in other Arab countries (they did not have to live in Ghettos, nor identify themselves as Jews, not walk in the road if a Muslim was walking on the same street, as was the case in Yemen). The Jews of Muscat were employed mostly in the making of silver ornaments, banking, and liquor sale. Despite the lack of persecution in Oman, the community is believed to have disappeared before 1900. During World War II, a Jewish American Army enlisted man, Emanuel Glick, encountered a small community of Omani Jews in Muscat, but this community consisted mostly of recent migrants from Yemen.

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Source : Wikipedia