Back when it was a kingdom, Oman was strategically placed where it sat atop a plateau surrounded by a landscape which acted as a natural barrier against invaders. The only way to reach Oman was by traversing through a pass which served as a funnel and provided Oman with the upper hand. It was practically a fortress which was impregnable whose defences couldn’t be breached or tampered with. Over the years, it became the seat of power, which held a crucial position in the shipping of goods and spices by establishing Muscat as an essential port. This isn't all, here are 20 facts about Oman that will make you want to explore the beautiful Arab nation.
1. Uninterrupted Dynasty of Rulers
The Al Said family is the longest-ruling royal family in the whole of Arabia whose reign has been continuous since the past three centuries (1744 to be precise). Ranked third in the list of ‘longest ruling monarchs’, Qaboos Bin Said al Said is the king and bears the title of the Sultan. The Sultan is the head of the government as well as the monarch. He holds absolute power over all aspects of his kingdom.
2. Ancient Souqs for MilesBasically marketplaces which sprawl over for kilometres at a stretch. They have rapidly gained a name for themselves in the international market for the availability and ease of procurement of various items ranging from handicrafts to food items to jewellery. There are several souqs in Oman, most prominent of which are Muttrah souq, Nizwa souq, Hibri souq and Al Husn souq, to name a few. This fact about Oman will make you want to add these souks to your Omn itinerary.
3. Whitewashed Houses and Buildings
Surrounded by a plethora of buildings and houses painted in white, one is bound to get confused as to which locality they are in. Structures of any kind ranging from office complexes to malls are whitewashed, and any other colour requires prior permission from the government with adequate reasons. This adds to the flawless beauty which the country of Oman presents to you.
4. Oil ExportsThe Omani rank is quite high on the list of exporters of oil. It sits atop a vast oil reserve that is bound to last for a couple of centuries. Oman’s GDP is mainly contributed to by this and the ever-growing tourism industry. All the expenses of the state are covered and tended to by this. Which aims to get their citizens loads of incentives, including the exclusion of taxes. Now does the no-tax fact about Oman may make you want to work there?
5. Amazing Shipbuilders
Being a fantastic ship maker courses through an Omani’s veins. They are well known for building ships which have stood the test of time and bear testimony to their mastery of this skill. Partly surrounded by the sea, Omanis have refined this craft over time and built some of the most significant naval ships which have been lauded for their versatility. Every intricate detail is meticulously looked into with nothing short of utter perfection.
6. Mountain Dew - The Alcohol of Oman
An average Omani’s love for mountain dew knows no bounds. Willing to go to any extent for this carbonated drink, this beverage enjoys a monopolised market with no equal to rival it. Since the introduction of mountain dew in Oman, it is one of the few drinks which has the highest rate of consumption for any middle eastern country. It is often hailed as the “alcohol of Oman”. Facts say that when coca-cola tried to enter the market, they were shunned away and their sales plummeted down to an all-time low in any country. With the Omani making their love for the former crystal clear, it has become a rarity to come across a cola bottle here.
7. License For Getting Intoxicated
When it comes to actual alcohol being sold in the country, the Omani has framed a set of stringent laws which are meant to be followed down to the very letter. Breaking these laws equals to going against the Islamic code of conduct which elicits a swift response comprising of penalty inclusive of prison and a hefty fine.
Alcohol is usually served by five-star hotels and restaurants who possess a valid license.
8. Non-existent Crime Rate
This fact about Oman will make you feel safe when visiting the country. While the crime rate fluctuates over the years in several countries, the Omani people boast of a virtually non-existent crime rate. Reasons for this are attributed to the stringent Sharia law implemented in the country, which calls for rigorous punishment for any crime committed. Measures such as these have led to the sharp fall in the crime rate and serve to keep it at bay.
9. Disturbing Public Peace (honking) is Prohibited
An unwritten rule. Advocators of the fact that silence builds character, the Omani are prohibited from honking in public and private places unless the direst of situations demand it. Walk down the streets of Oman, and you wouldn’t find a single soul honking unnecessarily.
10. The Addictive Beverage - Coffee
Also known as ‘Qahwa’, this beverage is mandatorily served to every guest upon arrival to one’s house. While pleasantries are exchanged over, this fosters a bond of friendship and has become a ritual that one follows. The coffee is locally grown, has a delectable taste to it and is usually mixed with saffron.
Unknown to most people, the current chain of luxury hotels in Oman were nothing more than mere shacks sitting on the coastline and enjoying the view. This was the case before 1970. Post this, facing a massive wave of modernisation, Oman revolutionised its entire hotel industry among other sectors and made them reach the pinnacle of their success. Today, Omani hotels have redefined what luxury is and offer an impressive quality of service, which is world-renowned.
12. Excellent Breed of Horses/Stallions
Ask an equestrian which breed do they desire the most, and the answer would undoubtedly be the Omani breed. The Omani are known for raising horses which have incredible speed, endurance and stamina. Legend has it that King Solomon gifted an Omani tribe a stallion named Zad el-Raheb which was the epitome of an encapsulated all the qualities. It’s said that all these beautiful horses have descended from this horse. Now isn't this an interesting fact about Oman?
13. Fortresses as Checkpoints
Oman being the kingdom it was had its defences well placed in the form of castles and forts. These forts were scattered throughout the boundary and the coastline to thwart any attempts from land or sea-based threats. Today, these forts serve to reflect their culture and act as major tourist hotspots. Back in the day, these forts which once used to be Oman’s first line of defence; today act as major attractions which garner loads of appreciation from tourists all around the world.
14. Enchanting Doors
Having an inexplicable penchant for eccentric doors comes along with being an Omani. The entries here are adorned with small decorations that add on to the overall look of the facade and make it pleasing to look at. Walk down the streets of Oman, and one thing that you can’t deny would be the sense of bewilderment that you are left with.
15. World Heritage Sites
Having four UNESCO declared world heritage sites is no major feat. It is a phenomenal one. Bahla Fort, the archaeological sites of Bat, Al Khutm and Al Ayn, the irrigation systems of Al Aflaj and the land of Frankincense are the heritage sites which Oman possesses.
The irrigation systems show the irrigation methods which were used way back in 500 AD. The archaeological sites are the remnants of settlements and towers from the bronze age. Remains of the Bahla fort inclusive of the stone foundation are still intact and preserved to this day. The land of Frankincense, show the trail which traders used to take for trading, which eventually leads to success.
Another heritage site which was taken off the list was the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary. This was due to the government donated 10% of the land to an oil refinery to scour the area for oil.
16. Terrorism Free
This is another fact about Oman that shows how safe the Arab nation is. The word itself is enough to give us our worst nightmares. However, the situation in Oman is not so. With a high degree of caution exercised in the country, this is no more a matter of concern. No reports of terrorist attacks have been made in the past few decades, thus making Oman one of the safest countries to travel in.
17. Evergrowing Literacy Rate
Another stat which is frequently added to Omani statistics is the ever-growing literacy rate. In 2003, the rate was good enough 81.36%, which has currently skyrocketed to a humongous figure of 93.04% in 2015. The net enrollment ratio of students stands at a whopping 94.12%, which makes Oman a land of well-educated citizens.
A dagger, this weapon originated in Oman and was spread to other countries mainly using the Ottoman empire. Originally meant to defend one, over time it lost its significance as a weapon and is currently carried around as a ceremonial dagger. It has gone on to become a symbol of pride and can be found on the national emblem of Oman as well as the Omani rial. It can be found in any souq and is usually sold as a souvenir.
19. Diverse Workforce
Accounting for an enormous majority of workers hailing from several Asian countries, Oman’s workforce goes on to prove the saying - unity in diversity. People from various backgrounds migrate along several others to make a living and lead a better life. Half or more of what they earn goes back to their houses to ease their families burden.
Fun fact - More than half of Oman’s workforce comprises of Indians.
20. Aromatic Frankincense
Used as a primary ingredient in perfumes, Oman is responsible for producing a whopping 17% of the entire frankincense world production. It is a commodity that is most sought after in Europe for its fragrance and mild medicinal properties. It grows in the wild and can be bought in loose quantities from any souq.
The land of frankincense (a UNESCO world heritage site in Oman), a trade route, was used immensely in the middle ages for the trading of frankincense. This led to the very foundation of the boom in Oman’s economy.
These are some of the facts about Oman that you can marvel at while contemplating your visit to this country. Enjoy your stay!