Middle East :: Oman

Introduction ::Oman

    The inhabitants of the area of Oman have long prospered on Indian Ocean trade. In the late 18th century, a newly established sultanate in Muscat signed the first in a series of friendship treaties with Britain. Over time, Oman's dependence on British political and military advisors increased, but it never became a British colony. In 1970, QABOOS bin Said Al-Said overthrew his father, and he has since ruled as sultan. His extensive modernization program has opened the country to the outside world while preserving the longstanding close ties with the UK. Oman's moderate, independent foreign policy has sought to maintain good relations with all Middle Eastern countries. Inspired by the popular uprisings that swept the Middle East and North Africa beginning in January 2011, Omanis began staging marches and demonstrations to demand economic benefits, an end to corruption, and greater political rights. In response to protester demands, QABOOS in 2011 pledged to implement economic and political reforms, such as granting legislative and regulatory powers to the Majlis al-Shura and introducing unemployment benefits. In August 2012, the Sultan announced a royal directive mandating the speedy implementation of a national job creation plan for thousands of public and private sector jobs. As part of the government's efforts to decentralize authority and allow greater citizen participation in local governance, Oman successfully conducted its first municipal council elections in December 2012. Announced by the Sultan in 2011, the municipal councils will have the power to advise the Royal Court on the needs of local districts across Oman's 11 governorates.

Geography ::Oman

People and Society ::Oman

Government ::Oman

    conventional long form: Sultanate of Oman
    conventional short form: Oman
    local long form: Saltanat Uman
    local short form: Uman
    former: Muscat and Oman
    name: Muscat
    geographic coordinates: 23 37 N, 58 35 E
    time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    11 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazat); Ad Dakhiliyah, Al Buraymi, Al Wusta, Az Zahirah, Janub al Batinah (Al Batinah South), Janub ash Sharqiyah (Ash Sharqiyah South), Masqat (Muscat), Musandam, Shamal al Batinah (Al Batinah North), Shamal ash Sharqiyah (Ash Sharqiyah North), Zufar (Dhofar)
    1650 (expulsion of the Portuguese)
    Birthday of Sultan QABOOS, 18 November (1940)
    none; note - on 6 November 1996, Sultan QABOOS issued a royal decree promulgating a basic law considered by the government to be a constitution which, among other things, clarifies the royal succession, provides for a prime minister, bars ministers from holding interests in companies doing business with the government, establishes a bicameral legislature, and guarantees basic civil liberties for Omani citizens
    mixed legal system of Anglo-Saxon law and Islamic law
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    21 years of age; universal; note - members of the military and security forces by law are not allowed to vote
    chief of state: Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said Al-Said (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
    head of government: Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said Al-Said (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972)
    cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the monarch
    (For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
    elections: the Ruling Family Council determines a successor from the Sultan's extended family; if the Council cannot form a consensus within three days of the Sultan's death or incapacitation, the Defense Council will relay a predetermined heir as chosen by the Sultan
    bicameral - consists of Majlis al-Dawla or upper chamber (71 seats; members appointed by the sultan; has only advisory powers) and Majlis al-Shura or lower chamber (84 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms; body has authority to draft legislation but is subordinate to the Sultan)
    elections: (Majlis al-Shura) last held on 15 October 2011 (next to be held in October 2015)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; note - three prominent figures from the Arab Spring 2011 protests won seats; one woman also won a seat
    highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of 5 judges)
    judge selection and term of office: judges nominated by the 9-member Supreme Judicial Council (chaired by the monarch) and appointed by the monarch; judge tenure NA
    subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance; sharia courts; magistrates' courts
    political parties are illegal
    chief of mission: Ambassador Hunaina bint Sultan bin Ahmad al-MUGHAIRI
    chancery: 2535 Belmont Road, NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 387-1980
    FAX: [1] (202) 745-4933
    chief of mission: Ambassador Greta C. HOLTZ
    embassy: Jamait Ad Duwal Al Arabiyya Street, Al Khuwair area, Muscat
    mailing address: P. O. Box 202, P.C. 115, Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos, Muscat
    telephone: [968] 24-643-400
    FAX: [968] 24-64-37-40
    three horizontal bands of white, red, and green of equal width with a broad, vertical, red band on the hoist side; the national emblem (a khanjar dagger in its sheath superimposed on two crossed swords in scabbards) in white is centered near the top of the vertical band; white represents peace and prosperity, red recalls battles against foreign invaders, and green symbolizes the Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountains) and fertility
    Khanjar dagger superimposed on two crossed swords
    name: "Nashid as-Salaam as-Sultani" (The Sultan's Anthem)

    lyrics/music: Rashid bin Uzayyiz al KHUSAIDI/James Frederick MILLS, arranged by Bernard EBBINGHAUS
    note: adopted 1932; new words were written after QABOOS bin Said al Said gained power in 1970; the anthem was first performed by the band of a British ship as a salute to the Sultan during a 1932 visit to Muscat; the bandmaster of the HMS Hawkins was asked to write a salutation to the Sultan on the occasion of his visiting the ship

Economy ::Oman

    Oman is a middle-income economy that is heavily dependent on dwindling oil resources. Because of declining reserves and a rapidly growing labor force, Muscat has actively pursued a development plan that focuses on diversification, industrialization, and privatization, with the objective of reducing the oil sector's contribution to GDP to 9% by 2020 and creating more jobs to employ the rising numbers of Omanis entering the workforce. Tourism and gas-based industries are key components of the government's diversification strategy. However, increases in social welfare benefits, particularly since the Arab Spring, will challenge the government's ability to effectively balance its budget if oil revenues decline. By using enhanced oil recovery techniques, Oman succeeded in increasing oil production, giving the country more time to diversify, and the increase in global oil prices through 2011 provided the government greater financial resources to invest in non-oil sectors. In 2012, continued surpluses resulting from sustained high oil prices and increased enhanced oil recovery allowed the government to maintain growth in social subsidies and public sector job creation. However, the Sultan made widely reported statements indicating this would not be sustainable, and called for expanded efforts to support SME development and entrepreneurship. Government agencies and large oligarchic group companies heeded his call, announcing new initiatives to spin off non-essential functions to entrepreneurs, incubate new businesses, train and mentor up and coming business people, and provide financing for start-ups. In response to fast growth in household indebtedness, the Central Bank reduced the ceiling on personal interest loans from 8 to 7%, lowered mortgage rates, capped the percentage of consumer loans at 50% of borrower's salaries for personal loans and 60% for housing loans, and limited maximum repayment terms to 10 and 25 years respectively. In 2012 the Central Bank also issued final regulations governing Islamic banking and two full-fledged Islamic banks held oversubscribed IPOs while four traditional banks opened sharia-compliant Islamic windows.
    $91.54 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 76
    $87.16 billion (2011 est.)
    $83.41 billion (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $76.46 billion (2012 est.)
    5% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 65
    4.5% (2011 est.)
    5.6% (2010 est.)
    $29,600 (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 51
    $29,100 (2011 est.)
    $33,100 (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    38% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 12
    41% of GDP (2011 est.)
    37.9% of GDP (2010 est.)
    household consumption: 30%
    government consumption: 17.2%
    investment in fixed capital: 26.2%
    exports of goods and services: 61.6%
    imports of goods and services: -35%
    (2012 est.)
    agriculture: 1%
    industry: 66%
    services: 33% (2012 est.)
    dates, limes, bananas, alfalfa, vegetables; camels, cattle; fish
    crude oil production and refining, natural and liquefied natural gas (LNG) production; construction, cement, copper, steel, chemicals, optic fiber
    0.2% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 130
    country comparison to the world: 143
    note: about 60% of the labor force is non-national (2007)
    agriculture: NA%
    industry: NA%
    services: NA%
    15% (2004 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 145
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%
    revenues: $36.36 billion
    expenditures: $27.98 billion (2012 est.)
    47.6% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 18
    11% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 8
    4.1% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 153
    4.6% of GDP (2011 est.)
    calendar year
    2.9% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 88
    4.1% (2011 est.)
    2% (31 December 2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 143
    0.05% (31 December 2009 est.)
    5.65% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 138
    6.19% (31 December 2011 est.)
    $9.083 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 78
    $7.971 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $71.42 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 62
    $63.16 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
    $27.62 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 73
    $23.18 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $19.72 billion (31 December 2011)
    country comparison to the world: 64
    $20.27 billion (31 December 2010)
    $17.3 billion (31 December 2009)
    $10.22 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 25
    $10.67 billion (2011 est.)
    $52.04 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 59
    $47.09 billion (2011 est.)
    petroleum, reexports, fish, metals, textiles
    China 31.9%, Japan 12.9%, UAE 10.1%, South Korea 10%, Thailand 4.4%, Singapore 4.4% (2012)
    $26.49 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 68
    $21.5 billion (2011 est.)
    machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, livestock, lubricants
    UAE 23.6%, Japan 12.6%, India 8.5%, China 6.4%, US 6.1% (2012)
    $14.75 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 66
    $14.37 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $10.18 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 101
    $9.297 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    Omani rials (OMR) per US dollar -
    0.3845 (2012 est.)
    0.3845 (2011 est.)
    0.3845 (2010 est.)
    0.3845 (2009)
    0.3845 (2008)

Energy ::Oman

Communications ::Oman

    305,000 (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 115
    5.278 million (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 102
    general assessment: modern system consisting of open-wire, microwave, and radiotelephone communication stations; limited coaxial cable; domestic satellite system with 8 earth stations
    domestic: fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership both increasing with fixed-line phone service gradually being introduced to remote villages using wireless local loop systems
    international: country code - 968; the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) and the SEA-ME-WE-3 submarine cable provide connectivity to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat (2008)
    1 state-run TV broadcaster; TV stations transmitting from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Yemen available via satellite TV; state-run radio operates multiple stations; first private radio station began operating in 2007 and 2 additional stations now operating (2007)
    14,531 (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 127
    1.465 million (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 83

Transportation ::Oman

    132 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 44
    total: 13
    over 3,047 m: 7
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
    914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)
    total: 119
    over 3,047 m: 2
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 51
    914 to 1,523 m: 33
    under 914 m:
    26 (2013)
    3 (2013)
    condensate 106 km; gas 4,224 km; oil 3,558 km; oil/gas/water 33 km; refined products 264 km (2013)
    total: 45,985 km
    country comparison to the world: 81
    paved: 29,685 km (includes 1,384 km of expressways)
    unpaved: 16,300 km (2011)
    total: 5
    country comparison to the world: 125
    by type: chemical tanker 1, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 3
    registered in other countries: 15 (Malta 5, Panama 10) (2010)
    Mina' Qabus, Salalah, Suhar

Military ::Oman

Transnational Issues ::Oman

    boundary agreement reportedly signed and ratified with UAE in 2003 for entire border, including Oman's Musandam Peninsula and Al Madhah exclave, but details of the alignment have not been made public