Oman

 

History of Oman

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Oman's little is known facts about pre-Islamic past but it is clear from recent archeological discoveries and research that early civilizations existed at least 5000 years ago. Al Wattih in Muscat Governorate is one of the first inhabited cities. Modern archaeological discoveries suggest that humans settled in it during the Stone Age, i.e. more than 10,000 years ago. The Babylonians and the Assyrians tried to settled in Oman because they wanted to control the trade route that linked Asia to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. With the spread of Islam, and Mazin Bin Gadhubah joining Islam as the first person in Oman and his emigration to Medina to meet the Prophet, Peace be upon Him, the first mosque was built in Oman. This is Al Midhmar Mosque that still stands to this day in Wilayt Samail. These events paved the way for the two kings of Oman at that time, Jua’fer and Abd Ibni Al Jalandi, to enter Islam wholeheartedly and with utter conviction after receiving a letter from the Prophet, Peace be upon Him.

A Hadith mentions that the Prophet, Peace be upon Him, said “God’s mercy be on the people of Al Ghubaira” (i.e. the people of Oman). “They have believed in me although they had not seen me”. Also stated in the sermon our Master Abu Bakr Al-Sidiq, the caliph of the Prophet, Peace be upon Him, to the people of Oman: “People of Oman you, you have entered Islam voluntarily although the Prophet has not come to your land on foot or on horse. You have not opposed him as other Arabs opposed him, and you have not called for separation or dispersion. May God unite you in benevolence.”

With the election of Ibn Masood, the first imam, in 751 AD, the Imamate era began in Oman and lasted four centuries until 1154. Several attempts were made to restore the rule of the Imamate in Oman in the mid-fifteenth century, but did not succeed. During the period 1498-1507 AD, the Portuguese tried to control Oman. Omani history tells the story of the Omani people who expelled the Portuguese with their struggle and heroism. Nasser bin Murshid was elected Imam in 1624.

Because of the coastal location of Oman, the Omani navy occupied a leading position regionally. This sparked the ire of the Portuguese, who did not forget their devastating defeat. Fierce battles erupted between the Portuguese Navy (which had made India its base after the liberation of Oman) and the strong Omani navy. After a fierce battle, the Omani fleet was able to defeat the Portuguese fleet. In 1698, the Omani Empire then expanded to include the cities of the African east coast, stretching from Mombasa to Kila, Zanzibar, Pemba and Bata. Mozambique remained under Portuguese rule until the twentieth century. This country had been the target of a number of attempts by the Persians to invade its territory, but the steadfastness and heroism of the Omanis were successfully combined to defeat the occupier. The invaders were defeated, underscoring the exploits of Omani heroes in defending their lands. This great victory was achieved at the hands of Imam Ahmed bin Saeed Al Busaidi, who defeated the Persians and was elected imam.

With the advent of 1970 came the dawn of a modern renaissance in the Sultanate, with the beginning of the prosperous era of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

Governorates of Oman

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Muscat Governorate
Muscat Governorate is considered the pulsating heart of Oman. It is linked to Port Sultan Qaboos by Muttrah Corniche where the visitor to Muscat can view the wonderful variety of nature: golden beaches, mountainous heights, and golden sand dunes (Bawshar Sands). Perhaps what is striking about Muscat Governorate and its states is the breathtaking intermingling of ancient cultural heritage and modern style. You will see houses, gates, old markets, small shops, and winding roads redolent of authentic history, side by side with modern markets, shops, buildings, and streets stamped with modern architecture. This allows Oman to preserve its historic character, and at the same time enjoying its contemporary spirit. Muscat is renowned as one of the cleanest Arab capitals, and has gained the honour of winning the Cleanest Arab City Contest several consecutive times. Muscat as a city has played a prominent historical role due to its strategic location. Muscat Governorate Wilayt are: Muscat, Mutrah, Bawshar, Al Seeb, Qurayyat, and Al Amirat.

Dhofar Governorate
Dhofar Governorate is famous for its seasonal weather, locally known as monsoon or “Khareef” , when it witnesses its best period, clothed in lush greenery and its hills surrounded by white fog. Light rains drizzle to cool the air. During this time, it is frequented by many visitors, especially from within Oman and the neighbouring countries. Salalah Tourism Festival takes place from 15 July to 31 August every year. The festival is part of Khareef(monsoon) that extends from the end of July until the beginning of September. Dhofar Governorate stretches over an area of one third of Oman and forms the Sultanate’s southern part. Dhofar includes a distinctive natural diversity where the coast blends with the mountains and the desert in wonderful harmony so that the mountains look like a fertile crescent, rising to a height of 1,500 metres and then descending into a flat plain that embraces sandy beaches stretching for hundreds of kilometres. One can imagine the magnificence of this province when most parts of the Arabian Peninsula witness a rise in temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius in summer. But, in Salalah, the capital of Dhofar that lies 1,040 kilometres away from Muscat, temperatures never rise above 27 degrees Celsius. There are daily flights between Muscat and Salalah, as well as other Arab Gulf states. Dhofar Governorate Wilayat are: Salalah, Taqah, Mirbat, Sadah, Shalim and Halaniyat Islands, Dalkoot, Rakhyut, Thamrit, Mokshin, Al Mazuna.

Musandam Governorate
The Musandam Peninsula is located on the northern border of the Sultanate of Oman. The high mountains in this region rise for more than two thousand metres above sea level. The mountains spread out in a naturally geometrical way. This area also contains the most important waterway, The Strait of Hormuz. The juxtaposition of sea and mountains is considered one of the exclusive features of this area. Excursions in boats and traditional ships give the visitor unforgettable enjoyment, while diving fans at the beautiful coral reefs can plunge to their hearts’ content. Archaeological sites also abound in this area. Khasab is the Governorate of Musandam's regional centre and is located 570 kilometres from Muscat. Khasab, home to Khasab Port, it is located in the far north of the governorate and takes its name from its fertile soil. Khasab Governorate is famous for its magnificent villages and the thrilling roads that lead its mountain tops. Khasab can be reached by daily flights from Muscat, by sea in fast ferries and by car through a road that cuts through the United Arab Emirates. Governorates of Musandam Wilayat are: Khasab, Bukha, Diba, Madha.

North and South A'Sharqiyah Governorate(Eastern)
The nature of this region blends three environments, each having its own distinctive flavour: the coastline, hugging the Arabian Sea and part of the Sea of Oman, tells the story of hard work done by hardy men. Their weapons are the boats they have built with their own strong hands. Their ammunition is their nets spun by their dexterous fingers while chanting melodious work songs. Under cover of night, they sail into the sea and wrangle with its high waves in a constant battle between the desire to earn their living and come home safely. At the break of dawn, these hard-working men return with their nets overflowing with fish, chanting the melodious refrain, “Thanks be To Allah” for His boon and a safe trip back home…. This is the first environment of South A'Sharqiyah Governorate, and the most prolific fishery of all the regions of Oman. The second environment is the sand dunes mirroring the depth of an artistic painting, vibrant with the quiet nomadic life in a pastoral setting embracing the wealth of cattle, camels and horses that North and South A'Sharqiyah Governorate Ais renowned for. This Governorate’s special attribute is typified in Badiya, where horse and camel races take place, and where fans from the Sultanate and abroad come to watch. The third environment is urban or agricultural and is the meeting point for both the nomadic and coastal environments. This region has a long history. In the Rass Al Hadd Wilayat in South A'Sharqiyah Governorate, Allied planes hid during the Second World War. Its meandering alleys still welcome sailors fleeing a damaging storm or violent wind. South A'Sharqiyah Governorate Wilayat are: Al Kamil & Al Wafi, Jaalan Bani Bu Ali, Jalan Bani Bu Hassn, Masirah, Sur.

North and South Al Batinah Governorate
Omanis compare Al Hajar Mountains to the human backbone, so they call the Governorate which lies on the Sea of Oman North and South Al Batinah, and the Governorate that lies west of the heights A'Dhahirah. North and South Al Batinah Governorate is the beach formed by the valleys descending from the mountains, whose width varies between 15 and 80 kilometres. This is the main two agricultural Governorate in Oman, not to mention the nearby mountains and glittering beaches. North and South Al Batinah Governorate is distinguished by the presence of some rare trees like Al Mashut in Wilayt Liwa and Ad Dibaj in Wilayt As Suwayq. ArRustaq is the provincial centre of the South Al Batinah Governorate and Sohar city is the provincial centre of the North Al Batinah Governorate and lies about 230 kilometres from the capital, Muscat. Sohar was the capital of Oman before the advent of Islam, and was known by the name of Majan. Sohar is one of the most important Wilayat in North Al Batinah Governorateand has been famous for producing and exporting copper for a long time. In the fourth century AH (tenth AD), Al Makdessi described Sohar as “a thriving city with a large population and a beautiful city providing comfortable living. Its impressive residential districts spread along the beach, and its towering buildings are built with baked brick and teak wood.” Al Makdessi also goes on to describe "Sohar’s mosque overlooking the sea and its towering minaret,” adding that what distinguishes the city is "its prosperous markets that attract shoppers’ attention and admiration.” North Al Batinah Governorate Wilayat are: Sohar, As Suwayq, Al-Kabura, Saham, Lway, Shinas. South Al Batinah Governorate Wilayat are: Barka, Wadi Al Mawil, Nakhal, Al Awabi, ArRustaq, Al Masana’h.

A'Dakhiliyah Governorate
A'Dakhiliyah Governorate occupies a distinctive location on the western slopes of Al Hajar Mountains (the slopes of Al Jabal Al Akhdhar) towards the desert in the south. A'Dakhiliyah Governorate has played a role of great significance in Oman’s history, particularly with regard to the spread of Islam in Oman. Nizwa, the capital of Oman in the early days of Islam, was the cradle of ardent intellectual activity and produced generations of Omani scientists, scholars and historians. That’s why it has been called “the egg of Islam”. Its towering historic castle still stands today as well as many forts, castles, ancient mosques and other beautiful tourist sites. Nizwa District is also famous for its many old houses. A'Dakhiliyah Governorate has played a significant role in linking the coast to the interior of Oman, as it was the main trade route and the meeting place of caravans for many centuries. A'Dakhiliyah Governorate Wilayat are: Nizwa, Bidbid, Samail, Izki, Monah, Bahlah, Al Hamra, Adam.

A'Dhahirah Governorate
A'Dhahirah Governorate descends from the southern slopes of the western Al Hajar Mountains. It forms a bridge to the caravan trade routes between Oman and the neighbouring countries, which is why the region is called Wilayt Ibri (from “crossing”). A'Dhahirah includes Bat Tombs, which are on the World Heritage List. Wilayt Ibri is one of the regional centres in west Oman. It is lies 279 kilometres from the capital city Muscat. The two cities are linked by two roads: one runs directly from Muscat and the other cuts through Wilayat Ar Rustaq. This city has a unique location connecting the Sultanate with the other regions in the Arabian Peninsula. A'Dhahirah Governorate Wilayah are: Ibri, Yanqul, Danak.

Al Buraymi Governorate
Al Buraymi Governorate is located in the north-western part of Oman. In ancient times it was known by the name of Twam and Al Jaw. Al Buraymi Governorate is a semi-desert plain descending from the southern slopes of the western Al Hajar Mountains. Ruins discovered in this governorate indicate the existence of trade routes dating back to ancient times. The presence of pottery and the remains of copper and other ruins in Al Buraymi indicate the existence of an ancient civilisation. Wilayt Al Buraymi lies 370 kilometres from Muscat. Visitors coming to Al Buraymi from Muscat Governorate can reach it via two main routes: A'Dhahirah Road (Abri - Hafit) and Al Batinah Road (Sohar-Wadi Al Jizi). Al Buraymi Governorate Wilayat are: Al Buraymi, Mahadh, As Sinaynah.

AlWasta Governorate(central Governorate)
AlWasta Governorate is located to the south of the Governorate of A'Dakhiliyah and A'Dhahirah Governorate. It is flanked on the east by the Arabian Sea, on the west by The Empty Quarter, and by Dhofar Governorate to the South. It occupies a large area in the middle of the Sultanate. Its beaches stretch for vast distances along the Arabian Sea. These beaches are famous for their cleanliness and the purity of their waters. This has resulted in an increase of marine plants which give the water its green colour. You can also find other types of plants swaying in the shallow waters of Barr Al Hikman (Al Hikman Peninsula). Many birds pass this area during their annual migration. On land, the moderate climate, influenced by the annual autumn season in Dhofar, helps the growth of a variety of plants and rare mammals such as the Arabian oryx and the Nubian ibex. In addition to all this natural wealth, the area abounds in a large number of oil and gas fields, making it rich on every score. AlWasta Governorate Wilayat are: Hima, Mahut, AD Duqum, AL-Jasir.

Society, Culture and Environment

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Geography
The Sultanate of Oman occupies the southeastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula with almost 1700km (1062 miles) of coastline stretching along the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf. It is bordered by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the west and the Republic of Yemen to the south. The United Arab Emirates lies to the northwest of Oman and to the east lies the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman.

Government
Legislative power is held by the Sultan who is Head of State and wields executive power as Prime Minister with the aid of a Council of Ministers. There is no legislature as such. The Council of Oman functions as an advisory body and is comprised of the 82-member Majlis as-Shura (Consultative Council) and the 41-member Majlis al-Dawlah (Council of State). Members of both are appointed by the Sultan. in the case of the Majlis as-Shura, the selection is made from 700-odd candidates elected from each vilayat (district).

Head of State and Government: Sultan Qabus bin Sa’id since 1970.

Language
Arabic is the official language. English is widely spoken. Swahili is also spoken by the population from East Africa. German and French are spoken by some hotel staff.

Religion
Predominantly Ibadi Muslim, with Shi’ite Muslim, Sunni Muslim and Hindu minorities.

Ramadan
The Holy Month is a month of fasting when Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and smoking. As a sign of respect, visitors are also required to refrain from eating, drinking and smoking in public during daylight hours.

Culture
The Omani culture has its roots firmly in the Islamic religion. Oman developed its own particular form of Islam, called Ibadhism, after its founder, Abdullah ibn Ibadh who lived during the 7th century AD. Not all Omanis are Ibadhis, however: there are also Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims. Omanis are not only tolerant of the beliefs of different Muslim divisions, they are also tolerant towards believers of other faiths, who are allowed to practise their religion in churches and temples. Islam is based on the fulfillment of the 'Five Pillars of Islam' or the hadiths. By fulfilling these duties one is assured of a place in heaven. The awqaf are religious endowments which can take the form of property or revenue and are administered by the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs for the maintenance of mosques and for the benefit of the community. The zakat is a charity tax which is paid to the needy. Every Muslim must pay this, according to his means. All Muslims are obliged to fast during Ramadhan, one of the Pillars of Islam. For around 29 to 30 days, each Islamic year, Muslims refrain from smoking, eating and drinking during the hours of fasting (from sunrise to sunset). Ramadhan advances 10 to 11 days each year as it is governed by the lunar calendar. The Haj or pilgrimage is another Pillar of Islam. The pilgrims travel to al-Medina in Saudi Arabia to visit the Prophet's tomb before travelling to the holy sites in Mecca. In 1999, there were approximately 19,000 Muslims travelling from Oman to Saudi Arabia. The pilgrimage is organised and coordinated by the Ministry, which ensures the pilgrims' health and safety during the course of their stay.

Omani Faces
Like the diversity of the environments and terrains in Oman, Omani people’s features differ as well. The desert dwellers’ features are different from those of mountain dwellers, and the features of the urban population are different from those residents of remote villages who depend on agriculture and livestock for their livelihood. In general, Omani features are characterised by a broad smile and the authentic Arabic generosity that is in the Omani blood. This is evident in the Omani hospitality widespread throughout the country, whether be it the aromatic Omani coffee offered to visitors or the laden palm trees that welcome anyone who wishes to taste their fruit.

Currency
Oman Rial (OMR = AUD2.5 approx)

Environment
Oman is renowned for its clean environment. Its capital Muscat was voted the world’s cleanest city, with infrastructure kept in immaculate condition.

Oman Tourism
Oman is known for its popular tourist attractions. Wadi's 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 Futtaim, 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 occurres in Muscat.

Oman Weather and Climate

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Climate
Summer is between May to September 20-35oC and milder weather is experienced in the mountains and in the Dhofar region all year round as it enjoys regular monsoon between June to October. Winter is between October to April 15-25oC.

Public Holidays

OMAN Public Holidays Year 2014
Holiday Date

New Year's Day 1 January
Milad Un Nabi (The Prophet's Birthday) 13 January
Lailat Al Miraj (The Prophet's Ascension) 27 May
Renaissance Day 23 July
Eid Al Fitr 28 July
Eid Al Adha 4 October
Al Hijra (Islamic New Year) 25 October
Birthday of HM Sultan Qaboos 5 November
Oman National Day 22 November

 

Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of various phases of the moon and the dates given above are approximations. During the lunar month of Ramadan that precedes Eid al-Fitr, Muslims fast during the day and feast at night and normal business patterns may be interrupted. Many restaurants are closed during the day and there are restrictions on smoking and drinking. Some disruption may continue into Eid al-Fitr itself. Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha may last anything from two to 10 days, depending on the region.

Travel Advisory

Oman is recognised by the United Nations Council as one of the safest country in the Gulf. But as a traveler you should maintain a high level of security awareness, seek up to date information, and take care in public places and on the roads. Avoid large crowds and demonstrations as they may turn violent. You should take particular care in the period surrounding Friday prayers.

Take care of your valuables and other personal possessions. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Oman is an islamic country, you have not to forget it.

Dress Code
In Oman dress code is comparatively relaxed, but extremely revealing and inappropriate clothing may be considered offensive.

Mostly of women from Oman wear "Bulcan", they just only show their eyes. You never can look at them or their eyes.
If you are a woman, you should not to show your legs and shoulders. In the international sites don't use to have got any problem but in the rest of the city you can get in troubles.

Photography
Tourist photography is permitted and it is always courteous to ask permission before taking pictures of people.

Facilities for the handicapped
Most hotels and public places have arrangements for the handicapped.

Alcohol
Alcohol is served in hotels, restaurants & bars. Drinking in public is not permitted. Alcohol can be purchased on arrival.

Getting there

By air
Many major airlines operate direct flights to Oman; for some, it is used as a stopover on flights to and from the Far East. The national carrier, Oman Air, is expanding its network.

By car
If you are driving from the UAE your passport will be checked at the border crossing in both Oman and the UAE; you’ll need to buy additional insurance cover through your car-hire agent if you want to take a UAE hire car into Oman (or vice versa).

By ship
There are no scheduled passenger services into Oman, but some cruise ships visit Muscat and Salalah.