Saturday, December 15, 2012

Where is Oman?

Almost everyone I told about my appointment asked "Where is Oman?".

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Oman is on the southeastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula. It is roughly the size of Poland or Kansas. The capital, Muscat, is a long skinny city wedged between the beaches of the Gulf of Oman and the foothills of the Western Al Hajar Mountains.  The climate ranges from warm in December (around 70F or 20C) to really hot in June/July (around 115F or 45C). The best time of year to visit is September through March!

Population is around 3.3 million of whom roughly 20% are foreigners, the statistics vary by website.  Many expatriates are Europeans and Americans in the oil and natural gas industries, others are from India, Pakistan and the Philippines laboring to send money back home.  These are generalizations, of course.

The full country name is The Sultanate of Oman.  It has been ruled by Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said (or Qaboos, son of Said, of the Said family) since 1970.  He is credited with modernizing the country.

Oman was long an important stop on the trade routes to and from India and down the African coast. At the height of the Omani Empire in the 19th century they commanded territory from present-day Iran down to Mozambique.  These days oil and natural gas are the primary industries, but tourism is on the rise with recreational activities in the desert, in the mountains and on and under the water. The Omani people are warm and welcoming, a trait that probably comes from centuries of international trade and relations.

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