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Thursday 13th June
Oman Information - Page 2
Omani culture dates back many thousands of years. The area is first mentioned is in Sumerian texts as a source of copper.

Oman is one of the few places in the world where frankincense grows: gum is collected from trees in much the same way as rubber. Frankincense has always been valuable because of its scarcity and has been used in religious ceremonies from Ancient Egypt onwards. The Roman historian and geographer Pliny wrote that the trade in incense had made the people who controlled it the richest in the world.

Islam came to Oman in the seventh century.

In the early sixteenth century, the Portuguese used Hormuz and then Muscat as a naval base. The region was important for its strategic position on the route to India. By the mid seventeenth century the Portuguese were expelled and the British signed a treaty with the newly independent Oman. Oman was an important maritime nation controlling parts of East Africa from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century and trading in slaves. At its peak the Omani Empire included some areas of India and Pakistan, as well as Mombasa and Zanzibar (now part of present-day Tanzania).

During the reign of Sultan Said Bin Taimur from 1932, Oman went through a period of isolation from the outside world.

After a coup in 1970, the Sultan's son, who became Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, undertook to modernize Oman while retaining as much as possible of its traditional character.

The Omani economy depends on its dwindling oil and gas revenues. The country has many small oil fields and some of the pipelines have to pass through the mountain ranges, all of which make the extraction of oil expensive.

Oil revenues have helped the economy in a number of ways, paying for development of the country's infrastructure: roads, airports, ports and telecommunications including satellite earth stations as well as mosques and houses.

Oman has revived its ancient mining industry. Deposits of copper are worked. Other resources are chromium, asbestos, gypsum, limestone and marble.

Agriculture plays a small part in the economy: plants are irrigated with water from springs. Alfalfa, onions, bananas, date palms and limes are grown. Domestic livestock are camels and goats.

The country's fisheries produce anchovies, mackerel, sardines and tuna: fish are one of Oman's main exports.

Industries are construction, steel, cement, chemicals and optic fibre. Traditional crafts are the weaving of rugs, carpets and clothing from camel and goats' hair. Silver jewellery is another Omani craft.

Oman also has an important tourist industry providing a significant percentage of the country's GDP.

Oman's leading modern painters are Hassan Meer and Nadira Mahmoud.

Traditional music and dancing is supported as part of the government's plan to maintain Oman's own identity while the country modernizes.

The long coastline gives ample opportunity for swimming, scuba-diving and water skiing.

Soccer is also popular and in 2009 Oman won the 19th Football Cup of Nations.

Tradtional sports include dhow racing, horse and camel races and falconry.

As well as the Islamic festivals of the End of Ramadan, the Feast of the Sacrifice and the Birthday of the Prophet, Oman celebrates National Day.

News from Oman can be found in Newslink.

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