Get to know Oman

Quick facts

Capital  – Muscat

Language – Arabic (official), Swahili, English, Urdu

Population – 4.8 Million (2018 Estimate)

Religion – Islam (Official)

Area – 309,500 sq km

Currency – Omani Riyal (OMR)

Currency conversion – 1 OMR = 2.6 USD

Time zone – GMT +4

International airport – Muscat International Airport

Driving side – On right

Country code – +968

Pre-History of Oman

Oldest known human settlement in Oman dates back to stone age. There has been discoveries of stone tools in caves in southern and central Oman, some of those 125,000 years old, resemble those made by humans in Africa around the same period. If you are adventurous enough, you can still find some evidence of stone age settlements and tools in some part of Oman.

In recent years surveys have uncovered Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites on the eastern coast. Main Palaeolithic sites include Saiwan-Ghunaim in the Barr al-Hikman. Archaeological remains are particularly numerous for the Bronze Age Umm an-Nar and Wadi Suq periods. Sites such as Bat show professional wheel-turned pottery, excellent hand-made stone vessels, a metals industry and monumental architecture. The Early (1300‒300 BC) and Late Iron Ages (100 BC‒300 AD) show more differences than similarities to each other. Thereafter, until the coming of Ibadi Islam, little or nothing is known.

modern history of oman

Over centuries tribes from western Arabia settled in Oman, making a living by fishing, farming, herding or stock breeding, and many present day Omani families trace their ancestral roots to other parts of Arabia. When Arab tribes started to migrate to Oman, there were two distinct groups. One group, a segment of the Azd tribe while the other group migrated a few centuries before the birth of Islam from central and northern Arabia, named Nizari (Nejdi). The Azd settlers in Oman are descendants of Nasr bin Azd, a branch of Yaarub bin Qahtan, and were later known as “the Al-Azd of Oman”. According to Al-Kalbi, Malik bin Fahm was the first settler of Alazd. He is said to have first settled in Qalhat. In the 7th century AD, Omanis came in contact with and accepted Islam.

After deposing his father in 1970, Sultan Qaboos opened up the country, embarked on economic reforms, and followed a policy of modernisation marked by increased spending on health, education and welfare. Slavery, once a cornerstone of the country’s trade and development, was outlawed in 1970. When Sultan Qaboos came in power, whole Oman had total of 10km of paved road. Under his leadership Oman became one of the most prosperus country in the world.

Geography of Oman

A vast gravel desert plain covers most of central Oman, with mountain ranges along the north (Al Hajar Mountains) and southeast coast (Qara or Dhofar Mountains). Oman’s climate is hot and dry in the interior and humid along the coast. During past epochs, Oman was covered by ocean, as evidenced by the large numbers of fossilized shells found in areas of the desert away from the modern coastline. The peninsula of Musandam (Musandem) exclave, which is strategically located on the Strait of Hormuz, is separated from the rest of Oman by the United Arab Emirates. The central desert of Oman is an important source of meteorites for scientific analysis.

Oman’s geography from places to places gives you a feeling of being in a land unlike planet Earth.

Fun Fact: In 2018, Austrian space agency wanted to carry out simulation exercise on how it would be to live on planet Mars, and for that, they wanted to find a location on Earth which closely resemble Mars. More than 200 scientists from 25 nations chose Southern desert part of Oman as their location to field-test technology for a manned mission to Mars. It is believed that the location resembles more than 99% of that of Mars.


Despite sharing many cultural characteristics of its Arab neighbours, Oman is unique in the Middle East due to it’s geography and history. Oman’s cultural diversity is greater than that of its Arab neighbours, given its historical expansion to the Swahili Coast and the Indian Ocean. Oman has a long tradition of shipbuilding, as maritime travel played a major role in the Omanis’ ability to stay in contact with the civilisations of the ancient world.

The male national dress in Oman consists of the ‘Dishdasha‘, a simple, ankle-length, collarless gown with long sleeves. Most frequently white in colour, the Dishdasha may also appear in a variety of other colours. The most noted regional differences in Dishdasha designs are the style with which they are embroidered, which varies according to age group. Omani men wear two types of headdress:

  • the ghutra, also called “Musar” a square piece of woven wool or cotton fabric of a single colour, decorated with various embroidered patterns
  • the Kummah, a cap that is the head dress worn during leisure hours.

The khanjar (dagger) forms part of the national dress and men wear the khanjar on all formal public occasions and festivals. It is traditionally worn at the waist. It is a symbol of a man’s origin, his manhood and courage. A depiction of a khanjar appears on the national flag.

Omani women wear eye-catching national costumes, with distinctive regional variations. All costumes incorporate vivid colours and vibrant embroidery and decorations. In the past, the choice of colours reflected a tribe’s tradition.


Omani cuisine is diverse and has been influenced by many cultures. Arsia, a festival meal served during celebrations, consists of mashed rice and meat (sometimes chicken). Another popular festival meal, ‘Shuwa’, consists of meat cooked very slowly (sometimes for up to 2 days) in an underground clay oven. The meat becomes extremely tender and it is infused with spices and herbs before cooking to give it a very distinct taste. Fish is often used in main dishes too, and the kingfish is a popular ingredient. Mashuai is a meal consisting of a whole spit-roasted kingfish served with lemon rice.

Rukhal bread is a thin, round bread originally baked over a fire made from palm leaves. It is eaten at any meal, typically served with Omani honey for breakfast or crumbled over curry for dinner. Chicken, fish, and lamb or mutton are regularly used in dishes.
The Omani halwa is a very popular sweet, basically consisting of cooked raw sugar with nuts. There are many different flavors, the most popular ones being black halwa (original) and saffron halwa. Halwa is considered as a symbol of Omani hospitality, and is traditionally served with coffee.