Geography

Oman is the second largest state in the Arabian Peninsula and occupies an area of about 300,000 sq. km. and a coastline of over 1,700 km.

Oman comprises of two parts. The largest by far is the one on the Arabian Sea, but its northern part, the Musandam Peninsula, which overlooks the Strait of Hormuz, makes Oman technically a Gulf State. Oman is divided into several distinct geographic zones.

Musandam is extremely rocky and isolated with almost no cultivable land. The most fertile part of the country is the Batinah coastal plain stretching from the UAE border for 300 km to the Muscat area. The Batinah plain is an almost unbroken belt of cultivation up to 30 km in width having long beaches and many date palm trees.

On the other end of Batinah is Muscat, the capital surrounded by mountains and having a natural harbor. A new port at Mutrah, with the commercial center Mina Qabous along with Ruwi, recently grown from a small village to a busy urban center, comprises what is known as Greater Muscat. Down the center of the Sultanate runs the Najjar mountain range, which reaches 3,300m at its highest point called the Al Jebel Al-Akhadar, the Green Mountains. Between the northern area and the Dhofar province lays a large stretch of desert, sand dune and stony plain. The Sultanate of Oman includes a number of islands, the most important of which is Masirah.

Economy and Industry

Until the discovery of oil, agriculture, animal husbandry and fishing were the basis of the economy of Oman. Over 80% of the population earned a living from the land. But the production is low as the rain fall over the greater part of Oman is sparse and agriculture is wholly dependent on the ground water for irrigation either by the falaj system or from wells.

The principal areas of agriculture are along the Batinah coast land. Here are grown a variety of citrus, fruits, dates, mangoes, pawpaws, vegetables and tobacco as well as corn in the Nizwa area. Cattle rearing is extensive along the slopes of Qara mountains and around Salalah there are coconut plantations.

With its long coastline Oman obviously has a great fishing potential, since the Arabian Sea has some of the richest stocks of fish in the world. Plans are undertaken to exploit this potential to the maximum by construction of cold storages, ice factories and equipment loan to traditional fishermen. Concessions to fish in deep territorial waters have been granted to South Korea and other groups.

History

Archaeological surveys indicate evidence that part of the civilization was pre-Islamic. By the second century BC due to its extremely important position, it had become an important Arab area where trade reached even as far as China. It was one of the first areas to embrace Islam during the life-time of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

In the 16th century the Portuguese attacked this important coastal area to secure and to protect their trade routes to India and the Far East. Muscat and Sohar were both conquered and evidences this is still seen to this day. The civil war which erupted in the 18th century only ended when Ahmed Bin Said was elected Imam by all conflicting sides in that tribal controversy since

Bin Said, the ancestor of the present Sultan, came to power and until Sultan Qaboos was inaugurated, the country was known as Muscat and Oman, but then the name was changed to Sultanate of Oman.

From the end of the 18th century until today ties between Oman and Britain have been close beginning with a treaty in 1798.

Regulation for Entry

VISAS

Travelers to Oman should obtain visas from the Omani Embassy in the country where they are. Applicants who have connections is the Sultanate must attach to their application forms a letter

from the firm or Government department they wish to visit, with full particulars. Telexes are not normally accepted.

British applicants who do not already have connections in the Sultanate will have to produce a letter from their local Chamber of Commerce as the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce will only sponsor members of its chamber. The Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry also sponsors visas for foreigners wishing to establish business relations in Oman who do not have a contact in the Sultanate or an Oman Embassy in their country of origin.

Non business applicants visiting friends or relatives require a No Objection Certificate (NOC) which must be issued in Oman. Visas for NOC holders are granted within 48 hours and for others within three days but sometimes it takes longer. It is normal for the actual NOC to be sent to Muscat airport where the visa is issued.

An Israeli visa on the passport automatically cancels the Omani Visa.

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