macrohistory & world report

Sultanate of Oman

map of Oman

Oman (capital Muscat) and neighboring states

Sultan of Oman

The Sultan of Oman, Qabus ibn Said Al Said

World Factbook as of October 2014: The inhabitants of the area of Oman have long prospered on Indian Ocean trade... 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 [the capital] 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."

Economic growth rate
2013: 5.1%
2012: 5.0%
2011: 4.4%.

Military expenditures as a percentage of GDP
2005: 11.4%


Living in an urban area: 73% (2010)
Living in an urban area: 72% (2008)

Net Migration rate
2014: More leaving than arriving, a net los of 0.45 persons per 1,000 population

July 2011: 3.0 million
July 2010: 2.967 million

Ethnic groups
Arab, Baluchi, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi), African

Ibadhi Muslim 75%; Sunni Muslim, Shia Muslim and Hindu 25%

Literacy (age 15 and older )
2011: males 90.2%, females 81.8%


At the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Oman has 2,292 kilometers of coastline on the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea. Desert. Dry but humid along the coast.


Oman's legal system is based on English common law, Islamic law and appeals to the monarch. Cabinet appointments are made by the monarch. Parliament: Upper House (Majlis al-Dawla), 58 seats selected by the monarch; Lower House (Majlis al-Shura), 83 seats, elected by universal suffrage for four-year terms. Capital: Muscat.

Wikipedia: In November 2010, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) listed Oman, from among 135 countries worldwide, as the nation most-improved during the preceding 40 years. According to international indices, Oman is one of the most developed and stable countries in the Arab World.

Recent History

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times October 13. 2010:

Just 40 years ago, Oman was one of the most hidebound societies in the world. There was no television, and radios were banned as the work of the devil ... and the majority of the population was illiterate and fiercely tribal... Not one girl in Oman was in school.

Change came with cultural diffusion and the sultan’s son, Qaboos. Beginning at the age of sixteen, in the late 1950s, Qaboos studied at a private in England. He then served in the British army. After his military service he studied some more in England and then returned to Oman. There, in 1970, a the age of 29, he deposed his father and became sultan, and in Kristof's words he "started a stunning modernization built around education for boys and girls alike."

Oman, writes Kristoff, left the fundamentalist track. He writes of a young woman as an example:

One 18-year-old university student I spoke to, Rihab Ahmed al-Rhabi, told me (in fluent English) of her interest in entrepreneurship... she mentioned that she doesn’t want to bog herself down with a husband anytime soon.   

Her grandmother was illiterate, married at the age of nine and bore ten children.

Kristof describes Oman as "peaceful and pro-Western."

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.