HEAD OF STATE: His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said (since 1970)
AREA: 309,500 sq.km.
Yemen Arab Republic, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
POPULATION: 2,331,391 (2003 Census).
The official language is Arabic. Islam is the official religion, but other religions are tolerated.
MAJOR CITIES: Salalah, Nizwa, Sur, Sohar
CURRENCY: Rial Omani (OR) of 1,000 baizas = US$2.58
NATIONAL DAY: 18th November
LIFE EXPECTANCY: 73.8 years
POPULATION GROWTH RATE: 2% (2003)
POPULATION DENSITY: 7.5
GOVERNMENT: A bicameral system.
The Council of Oman consists of the Consultation Council and the State Council.
The Consultation members are elected by the Omani citizens, and the State Council members are appointed by HM The Sultan.
TIME DIFFERENCE: GMT + 4 hours
OMAN – Tradition and modernity
Oman lies at the eastern corner of the Arabian peninsula. Sharjah and Fujairah (UAE) separate the main part of Oman from the northernmost part of the state, a peninsula (Musandam) extending into the Strait of Hormuz. It is for many Westerners a country waiting to be discovered.
Historically Omanis were seafarers and traders who dominated regional commodity trading in the Indian Ocean, East Africa and the Arabian Gulf. There were thus a succession of migrations which saw the growth of settlements along some parts of the East African coast.
Prior to the coming on stream of oil in 1964, the country was dependent on the agricultural sector and on fishing activities. In 1970, Oman had just 3 kms of asphalted roads. Asking a 50-year old Omani man to describe his country in the 1960s, the answer was simply: “There was nothing …”.
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, the son of Sultan Said, was aware of his father’s conservatism so he took over power in 1970. Since that time His Majesty has strived to modernize his country and oil revenues have given him the opportunity to develop a modern infrastructure of roads, ports and airports, as well as first-class telecommunications and broadcasting systems. Some 50 hospitals have been opened throughout the country and educational programmes for all ages successfully implemented.
Of course oil reserves will be exhausted one day and the country is therefore diversifying its economy, especially in the field of tourism. Among the Gulf states, Oman has many advantages for developing tourism: its climate, varied scenery, archaeological and historical remains, as well as its friendly people. With its high standard of hotel accommodation, it can satisfy even the most demanding travellers.
Oman and Tourism
Oman is a country of enormous diversity and natural beauty, which, while it has much to attract the discerning traveller, had until recent years been largely overlooked by international tourists.
The government was anxious not to promote the Sultanate to tourists until it was ready to accommodate them. Now, with an enviable infrastructure securely in place, a wide range of international hotels and a wealth of things to see and do, Oman is ready to offer its traditional hospitality to visitors from around the world..
Work on developing further facilities has been constantly ongoing.
Indicative of the importance the government affords this sector was the issue of Royal Decree No. 61/2004, establishing a Ministry of Tourism and appointing a woman as its minister.
Source : omanet.om (official site of Oman Ministry of Information)