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The Sultanate of Oman runs from the Straits of Hormuz, which guard the entrance to the Arabian Gulf, down the eastern seaboard of the Arabian peninsula to its southern borders with the Yemen. Mountainous in the north, with extensive coastal plains, the area has a considerable natural water supply. The central region of the country is gravel plain and spectacular sand dune country on the western border with Saudi Arabia in the Rub Al Khali (empty quarter) and in the south, green mountains influenced by the monsoons from the Arabian Sea.
Oman has been referred to as Mazoun and Magan, perhaps a direct reference to Oman's history of shipbuilding (a magan is a type of ship's chassis). Oman was renowned for its role in ocean navigation by the magnitude of its ships and also by its prolific trade in copper, stone and timber to the Mesopotamian cities. Due to its strategic position lying on some of the world's most important trade routes, the ports of Sohar and Muttrah have held great prominence among spice, edible oil and textile trading merchants.
During the First World War, Oman's economy and trade links declined and the country was left in relative isolation until 1970, when His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos bin Said took power.
Politics in 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, Qābūs ibn Saʻīd as-Saʻīd, who appoints a cabinet to assist him. Sultan Qaboos also serves as supreme commander of the armed forces, prime minister, and minister of defence, foreign affairs, and finance.
In 1971, Sultan Qaboos bin Said set out to establish strong diplomatic relationships with Arab and other leading countries. Due to his influence, Oman was quickly welcomed into the League of Arab States. Sultan Qaboos encouraged the development of a government and by the mid-70's he had created various Ministries, whilst personally overseeing the structure and function of internal security, finance, defense and oil affairs.
Universal suffrage for those over 21 was instituted on 4 October 2003.
For more information on the history, government and economy of Oman, visit Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The British School - Muscat
The American International School of Muscat (TAISM)
The quality of health care in Oman is generally high and equal to that in western Europe and the USA, except for highly specialised treatment.
Public hospitals include the Khoula Hospital, Quriat, and Sultan Qaboos Hospital.
Private hospitals include Muscat Private Hospital and Royal Hospital.
Most expatriates live in apartment blocks or villa style housing, with some living in employer owned gated compounds. If your employer does not provide company housing, we recommend you contact the following agents or refer to the accommodation section in either the local newspaper or yellow pages.
The Sultanate of Oman is regarded as a very safe location, has a negligible crime rate, and whilst conservative is very tolerant of western expatriates.
Any expatriate employee or family member who respects local culture and custom and takes appropriate precautions generally has few security concerns.
Tourism & Recreation
Over recent years the government has strategically developed the tourism industry and many cruise ships now visit, in addition to tourists, mainly from Europe who come to see the diversity of historical sites and scenery.
Further tourist information is available at Destination Oman