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THE SULTANATE

Welcome to the Sultanate of Oman, a hidden jewel at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, ranked fourth safest country in the world for visitors in 2017 by the World Economic Forum.

Oman is a wonderful combination of ageless heritage and modern life. A place where one can explore a traditional souq in the morning, and attend a world-class show at the renowned Royal Opera House in the evening.

A big part of the Sultanate’s unique charm is the hospitality of the Omani people. There is a big chance that visitors are invited for Omani coffee and dates by locals when travelling through the country, an offer that should never be refused.

Visitors and adventurers looking for a unique holiday experience will find that Oman has a lot to offer. Hiking, scuba diving, fishing, kitesurfing and caving – the list of memorable activities one can enjoy while in the Sultanate is endless.

From tall mountains and deep gorges, to water-filled wadis, endless beaches and some of the world’s most stunning desert landscapes, the diverse beauty of Oman is apparent in every part of the country.

Even when summer temperatures soar in the rest of the region, the Sultanate enjoys cooler temperatures in Dhofar and the mountain tops of the Al Hajar range, making it a one-of-a-kind holiday destination for visitors from around the world.

Marhaba to the Sultanate of Oman.

HISTORY

The Sultanate of Oman is a country of breathtaking natural beauty, interwoven with a kaleidoscope of history and legends. As the oldest independent state in the Arab World, Oman has embraced modernization and progress while retaining the core aspects of its culture and heritage – making it the perfect travel destination for those seeking an authentic Arabian experience.

Thanks to its strategic position at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, the Sultanate has always played a major role in trade within the region and beyond, acting as gateway to all ships traversing the Strait of Hormuz, Indian Ocean or the Arabian Sea.

Al Wattih, in the Muscat region, is thought to be one of the world’s first inhabited settlements, dating back an incredible 10,000 years. Later, and before the coming of Islam, Oman was dominated by the Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians –  each of whom sought to use Oman’s strategic location to trade with the world.

It was with the spread of Islam in Oman, around the 7th century, that the first place of worship was built. The Al Midhmar mosque in Wilayat Samail still stands to this day, having been rebuilt at various times throughout the centuries.

Over the coming centuries, the rule in Oman divided amongst a variety of dynasties, imamates and foreign powers, including the Portuguese from 1498 to 1507. Oman’s history tells the story of Omani people expelling the Portuguese to unite under Iman Nasser bin Murshid in 1624.

In the years that followed, the Sultanate expanded to include cities along the East African coast, from Mombasa to Zanzibar.

In 1798 Oman and Great Britain signed a Treaty of Friendship and, by 1891, Oman and Muscat had become a British Protectorate. For much of this period, the Sultan controlled the coast around Muscat while the Imam governed the interior from Nizwa. Under the 1951 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation, Oman received independence from Britain.

Following this independence, the country was brought under the leadership of Sultan Said bin Taimur. However, it was not until his son – His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said – ascended to the throne in 1970 that Oman entered a modern renaissance, evolving into the contemporary, forward facing country it is today.

It is His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s foresight and benevolence that has helped to secure Oman’s continued prosperity and ensured that the country remains one of the safest in the world.

GEOGRAPHY

For travellers with a keen interest in geology, Oman is a true wonderland. Geological stories can be found just about anywhere, from Oman’s highest mountain Jebel Shams to the mega-dunes of the Empty Quarter (Rub Al Khali) or the Rock Garden at Duqm.

The Sultanate of Oman is the only country in the world composed mostly of oceanic crust and rocks that originate from the Earth’s mantle. Evidence of continental drift can be witnessed in many of the unusual rock formations and topography around Oman.

One of the most outstanding geological features of the country is the Al Hajar mountain range, which forms an arc from the north-west (Ras Al Hadd) of Oman all the way to the south-east (Musandam and Strait of Hormuz).

Jebel Shams, at just over 3000 meters, is Oman’s highest mountain and truly a geological outdoor museum, with fossils embedded in rocks hundreds of meters above sea level. It is this, and the many other finds, that proof the many geological changes the country has endured with time.

CULTURE

Oman’s culture is deeply rooted in the Sultanate’s proud heritage and history of seafaring, trading and exploration. Today, old-standing traditions blend seamlessly with modern day living, with latest fashion and electronics brands sold alongside traditional hand-made crafts, jewellery, and even goats and cattle at souqs around the country; just as it has been done for hundreds of years.

It is this same blend of old and new that is also reflected in Oman’s architecture. Attractions such as The National Museum and Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque are perfect examples and must-visit destinations when in Muscat.

Despite Oman’s relatively rapid transformation to a modern society since His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, ascended the throne in 1970, the country has never lost sight of its roots. Omani culture is embedded in nearly every aspect of daily life, from clothing to food, arts and crafts, to the way Omanis welcome visitors. Local culture and heritage continues to be carried out in many cases the very same way it has been for hundreds of years.

PEOPLE

His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, successfully united all tribes since his ascension in 1970, ensuring that the country and its people are working together on building the country.

With a population of over 4 million people, Oman is an Islamic country that is very accepting of other religions and cultures, allowing anyone to practice their faith freely without prejudice. It is this kind of peaceful and accepting culture that makes Oman one of the safest and most liveable countries in the world.

Omanis are very welcoming of visitors from other countries, a fact that is reflected in the generous hospitality extended – whether it be Omani coffee in the shade of a date palm or leading the way when asked for directions.