Oman (Arabic: عمان ʻUmān), also known as Sultanate of Oman (Arabic: سلطنة عُمان Salṭanat ʻUmān) is a Middle Eastern country in the Arabian peninsula, bordered by Saudi Arabia in the west, the United Arab Emirates in the northwest, and Yemen in the southwest. It is a semi-absolute monarchy, with Qaboos bin Said, who brought Oman to modernity. Like other Persian Gulf states, it's very rich and ranks high in development, though unlike the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), its oil reserves is not as abundant.
GeographyThe country occupies the eastern end of the Arabian Peninsula and is separated from civilization to the west of the peninsula by the long, expansive, arid, and uninhabited Rub' Al Khali desert, ensuring that the culture and faith (especially the faith, see below) remained isolated for hundreds of years until modern times. The country contains the highest mountain range in Eastern Arabia: the Al Hajar Mountains, which separates the dry interior with the coastal plains. Civilizations have been traditionally established in the coasts, including the capital Muscat; the only major cities located in the interior are Ibri and Nizwa. Meanwhile, the southwestern part of the country is a unique region known as Dhofar, which, in contrast to the hot desert climate that plagues the entire Arabia (except neighboring Yemen's mountainous west), receives monsoon wind from the Indian Ocean, showering it with rainfall and making it look very green (known as Khareef). It's the primary holiday destination for Omanis, by the way, including the monarch. As with many other countries, Oman has its own personal quirks regarding political geography: enclaves and exclaves. The first, an exclave called Musandam, is that little jut nearly blocking the Persian Gulf from the Indian Ocean, giving access to the Gulf (and by extension, oil) to Oman, whose coast is otherwise entirely with the Indian Ocean. The second is an enclave surrounded by the neighboring UAE called Madha, which in turn also surrounds an enclave of UAE called Nahwa (yes, this kind of thing exists in the world, it's called a counter-enclave). It's created by quirky tribal politics fighting over who would control the relatively fertile part of the land decades ago. Luckily, because the two countries are nowadays cordial, people are free to commute in and out for work, though because the UAE is even wealthier than Oman, disparities still exist, so you can find yourself traveling through the rugged roads of Madha only to suddenly stumble upon the cushy paved roads of Nahwa just several kilometers down the road.
Culture and ReligionThe Omanis practice a unique form of Islam called Ibadi, distinct from Sunni and Shia Islam; in fact, it had broken away before the split between the two mainstream denominations even became established (more specifically, during the reign of the fourth caliph, Ali) as Khawarij, an extreme and purist form of Islam comparable to the modern-day Salafism, but Ibadis are nowadays known for their exact opposite: moderate, peaceful, and very tolerating (for a start, they believe that any Muslim can become a leader, as opposed to the Quraysh-strict rule in Sunni or descendants-of-Ali in Shia). No one really knows how they practice their faith, though, due to their relative isolation (being separated by hundreds of kilometers of desert from the nearest civilization helps). It also helps with keeping the country safe from fundamentalist groups, because the Omanis are essentially aliens in the Muslim world, and preaching extremist ideas just aren't going to work there. Even without the faith, Oman is probably the most neutral country in the Middle East, being content to stay out of conflict in just about everything, from the Arab-Israeli Wars to The War on Terror up to to the GCC intervention against the Houthis in neighboring Yemen, being the only member opting not to join the alliance. Yes, you heard the first one right, Oman isn't involved in the conflict with Israel (a rare gem back when Egypt and Jordan hadn't sort their things out), though it still has no official relations with it. Culturally and ethnically, it's unquestionably Arab, but there's also small minority groups who live in the southern part of the country near the border with Yemen who speak Modern South Arabian, a language group that's not part of the Central Semitic branch (Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, etc...) but instead South Semitic, which includes several national languages of Ethiopia. Oh, and like the other Gulf states, a sizeable (though not to the extent that they overtake the natives, like in the United Arab Emirates) portion of the population is foreign expatriates, mainly from South Asia.
HistoryIn the 17th century, Oman was an empire in the Indian Ocean. For a while, Oman's capital was in Zanzibar in Africa. While it was never a British protectorate, they were influenced by them. The discovery of oil has made Oman an important oil supplier, though not as great as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are. The ruler of Oman in the early and mid-20th century was Sultan Said bin Taimur, who ruled a very conservative regime and banned reading glasses. He was sacked by his son in 1970, partly for failing to crush the Dhofar Rebellion in 1965 quickly. These rebels were backed by Communists and the South Yemeni government. By 1975, Sultan Qaboos quelled the rebellion and has instituted social and economic reforms. Even more reforms are now being put in place in the 2010s to avoid the Arab Spring. The Omani government also tries to remedy the unemployment problem by trying to recruit native Omani personnel to do jobs that foreign workers usually do. The Omani flag
The flag's white, red and green stripes symbolize peace and prosperity, battles against foreign invasions, and the Green Mountains and fertility, respectively. At the hoist side is a red column, recalling the country's former all-red flag before 1970. At the canton is the national emblem, which is also the family badge of the House of Al Said, Oman's current royal family, showing a pair of sheathed swords over a khanjar, a local dagger.
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