The inhabitants of the area of Oman have long prospered on Indian Ocean trade. In the late 18th century, a newly established sultanate in Muscat signed the first in a series of friendship treaties with Britain. Over time, Oman's dependence on British political and military advisors increased, but it never became a British colony. In 1970, QABOOS bin Said Al-Said overthrew the restrictive rule of his father; he has ruled as sultan ever since. His extensive modernization program has opened the country to the outside world while preserving the longstanding close ties with the UK. Oman's moderate, independent foreign policy has sought to maintain good relations with all Middle Eastern countries.
5 regions (manatiq, singular - mintaqat) and 4 governorates* (muhafazat, singular - muhafazat) Ad Dakhiliyah, Al Batinah, Al Buraymi*, Al Wusta, Ash Sharqiyah, Az Zahirah, Masqat (Muscat)*, Musandam*, Zufar (Dhofar)*
none; note - on 6 November 1996, Sultan QABOOS issued a royal decree promulgating a basic law considered by the government to be a constitution which, among other things, clarifies the royal succession, provides for a prime minister, bars ministers from holding interests in companies doing business with the government, establishes a bicameral legislature, and guarantees basic civil liberties for Omani citizens
chief of state: Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said Al-Said (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government:
Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said Al-Said (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972)
bicameral Majlis Oman consists of Majlis al-Dawla or upper chamber (71 seats; members appointed by the monarch; has only advisory powers and Majlis al-Shura or lower chamber (84 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms; body has only advisory powers)
last held on 27 October 2007 (next to be held in 2011)
new candidates won 46 seats and 38 members of the outgoing Majlis kept their positions; none of the 20 female candidates was elected
three horizontal bands of white, red, and green of equal width with a broad, vertical, red band on the hoist side; the national emblem (a khanjar dagger in its sheath superimposed on two crossed swords in scabbards) in white is centered near the top of the vertical band; white represents peace and prosperity, red recalls battles against foreign invaders, and green symbolizes the Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountains) and fertility
Oman is a middle-income economy that is heavily dependent on dwindling oil resources. Because of declining reserves, Muscat has actively pursued a development plan that focuses on diversification, industrialization, and privatization, with the objective of reducing the oil sector's contribution to GDP to 9% by 2020. Tourism and gas-based industries are key components of the government's diversification strategy. By using enhanced oil recovery techniques, Oman succeeded in increasing oil production in 2009, giving the country more time to diversify. The drop in oil prices in 2008 and the global financial crisis reduced Oman's budget surplus in 2009 and slowed the pace of investment and development projects, but GDP growth still was positive, in part because Muscat implemented an expansionary fiscal policy.
general assessment: modern system consisting of open-wire, microwave, and radiotelephone communication stations; limited coaxial cable; domestic satellite system with 8 earth stations
fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership both increasing with fixed-line phone service gradually being introduced to remote villages using wireless local loop systems
country code - 968; the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) and the SEA-ME-WE-3 submarine cable provide connectivity to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat (2007)
1 state-run TV broadcaster; TV stations transmitting from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Yemen are accessible via satellite TV; state-run radio operates multiple stations; first private radio station began operation in 2007 and 2 additional stations now operating (2007)