Oman – geography
Oman’s borders with neighboring countries have only been determined for a few years. The border with Saudi Arabia was finally established and marked in 1992 and with Yemen in 1994; both go through deserts and are the result of Sultan Qabus’ desire for peace for land. The border with the United Arab Emirates, on the other hand, remains negotiable; it is significantly more complex because it goes through cities and cultivated areas. A special detail is Oman’s two exclaves, Mahda and Musandam, on the Strait of Hormuz, where Mahda itself contains territories belonging to the Emirates. The background for the complex border processes is that the national affiliations follow family and clan relations from ancient times, when there was free settlement.
The vast majority of Oman is desert, 5% is cultivated land, while 15% is mountains that in an arc extend from Muscatto Hormuz. Geologically, the mountain range is a result of the meeting between the Indo-Australian Plate and the Arab Plate. The Arabian Plate is formed by sea deposits, and in various tectonic structures now lie some of the world’s largest oil fields. Oman, however, holds only a small fraction of Arabia’s oil reserves. In the mountains of Oman, the former seabed has been pushed up, and the geology here is exposed with a clarity that only rarely occurs. Everywhere in the mountains you can see spectacular faults, folds, formations and play of colors. The material is sand and limestone, which absorbs the abundant and often heavy rainfall according to Arab conditions. The water is released slowly, and in the mountain valleys a lush and colorful life takes place. From the springs in the mountains the water is carried in canals, valleys, to the fields and date plantations, where it is distributed among the farmers according to an ingenious system that measures both water volume and time. The time in which the family disposes of the water of the falah is to this day measured by the sundial.
The capital Muscat is located below the mountains and is probably the warmest city in the world at night, as the dark rocks act as heat reservoirs under the scorching sun. On the whole, Oman has an extremely hot climate with regular temperatures of around 50 °C, and modern city life is strongly influenced by air conditioning.
The Desert and Dhofar
Especially the middle part of the country consists of desert. Large areas are so flat and empty that several of Oman’s topographical map sheets barely contain a height curve. Other areas are part of al-Rub al-Khali, the huge ’empty square’ that also covers southern Saudi Arabia. On the edge of this lies one of the world’s largest salt deserts, Umm al-Samim. Elsewhere, there are faults with 300 km long mountain walls in magnificent formations. Towards the Indian Ocean lies Wahiba, a small sand desert that largely consists of 50 approximately 150 km long and 50 m high dune range, located parallel and in a north-south direction. In the deserts, it is almost always a strong wind, and the hot winds set narrow limits to life.
Further south is the province of Dhofar with the city of Salala, the country’s second largest. The city is surrounded by mountains, and here, as the only place on the Arabian Peninsula, the monsoon is caught in the summer. In a limited area, from May to August it is green and lush. The pleasant climate makes the area a popular holiday destination for the wealthy of the Middle East, and it is one of the world’s few natural habitats for the incense tree, Boswellia sacra, whose resin is still used for incense and perfume.
It is estimated that the population in 2005 was 2.6 million, of which 27% were foreigners (guest workers). Each woman gives birth to an average of six children, giving one of the highest birth rates in the world. The health care system has been greatly expanded since 1970, both quantitatively and qualitatively, and child mortality is now on a par with that of the developing world. The large population growth is recognized as a problem, and state campaigns for family restriction are being conducted in a form that is unusual for an Islamic country with TV features about condoms and birth control pills.
- Countryaah: Do you know how many people there are in Oman? Check this site to see population pyramid and resident density about this country.
Ethnically, the population is mixed with elements that reflect the long history as a trading nation. The basic tribe is Arabic, but there are clear Indian, Pakistani and not least Zanzibar features. A prominent group in southern Oman is jibbali, which is native to Yemen.
Business and economics
Oman’s rapid development has been mainly financed by oil revenues, but compared to the other Gulf states, oil reserves are very small and great efforts are being made to develop alternatives in other sectors, especially industry and tourism.
Oman has 1/2 % of the world’s known oil reserves, and with current production they can reach approximately 20 years. In 2000, a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant was inaugurated near the town of Sur SE for Muscat. The plant, which is the result of significant new gas discoveries, is located directly by a shipping pier, from where the gas is sailed to customers in Japan, South Korea and India.
approximately 60% of the population remains employed in agriculture and fisheries, but a large proportion of the Omani are employed in the public sector (service and military), which is obviously overcrowded, a deliberate policy of redistributing oil wealth and reducing unemployment. Manual work is largely left to guest workers.
Agriculture is only moderately mechanized; Dates are the dominant crop. The fishing is mainly coastal fishing from smaller dinghies. The industry remains weakly developed; the most important industries are cement, building materials and metals.
Infrastructure and tourism
Before 1970, there were 10 km of paved roads in the country, and road construction has had a high priority in the development under Sultan Qabus. The expansion has helped to limit the migrations from country to town, which is otherwise known in developing countries, as there are now both roads and electricity supply to most villages. Tourism, which has been gradually expanding since the turn of the millennium, is also dependent on investment in the necessary infrastructure (hotels, services, maps, road signs).
Oman – language
In Oman, Omani-Arabic is spoken, which belongs to the eastern group of the dialects of the Arabian Peninsula. In the southwestern province of Dhofar, moreover, mehri and other southern Arabic languages are spoken. Official language is standard Arabic, while English is widely used as a second language. For culture and traditions of Oman, please check animalerts.