General Information

Oman, a nation on the Arabian Peninsula, has terrain encompassing desert, riverbed oases and long coastlines on the Persian (Arabian) Gulf, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman. Wahiba Sands is a region of dunes inhabited by Bedouins. The port capital, Muscat, is home to the massive, contemporary Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, and the old waterfront Muttrah quarter, with a labyrinthine souk and busy fish market.

Population

The total population in Oman was estimated at 4.6 million people in 2016, according to the latest census figures.

Political Structure

Politics of Oman takes place in a framework of an absolute monarchy whereby the Sultan of Oman is not only head of state, but also the head of government. Chief of state and government is the hereditary sultan, Qaboos bin Said al Said, who appoints a cabinet to assist him. Sultan Qaboos also serves has supreme commander of the armed forces, prime minister, and minister of defense, foreign affairs, and finance.

The Sultan is a direct descendant of Usman 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. The present Sultan has no direct heir, and has not publicly designated a successor. Instead, the ruling family should unanimously designate a new Sultan after his death. If they do not designate a new ruler after three days, then they open a letter left to them by the deceased Sultan, containing a recommendation for a new Sultan.

Infrastructure and Economy

As Oman’s position as a transit port for arms and slaves went into decline in the mid-19th century, much of its former prosperity was lost, and the economy turned almost exclusively to agriculture, camel and goat herding, fishing, and traditional handicrafts.

Today, however, oil and gas fuel the economy, and revenues from petroleum products have enabled Oman to witness a remarkable development over the past four decades. Realizing that Oman is highly dependent on the hydrocarbon sector, and oil and gas will run out in the future, the Omani government in recent years has been focusing on the development of industry, trade and tourism.

Language

The national language of Oman is Arabic, which is a member of the Central Semitic family.

Currency

The Omani Rial is the currency of Oman.