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Last updated : Nov 2009
Oman History
Oman History - TravelPuppy.com
Archaeological excavations have recently shown that much of the evolution in Oman predates the Arab period. The region welcomed Islam during the lifetime of the Prophet.

During the 18 th and 19 th centuries, the sultans of Muscat were often powerful figures in Arabia and East Africa, who often came into conflict with the colonial powers in the region, predominantly the Portuguese, who first settled in the 16 th century, in an attempt to protect their eastern trade routes.

Close ties have been preserved with Britain since 1798, when a treaty of friendship was concluded. The country was known as Muscat and Oman until the year 1970.

British influence remains strong but the number of British advisers occupying key positions in Omani government departments, considerable during the early days of the present regime, headed by the hereditary ruler, Sultan Qaboos, has steadily declined and is now limited to a handful of advisers in key posts.

During the early years of his reign, which began in 1970, Sultan Qaboos’ overruling priority was to deal with an insurgency in the western part of his kingdom, conducted by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman (PFLO) with the backing of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen, since unified with North Yemen).

The defeat of the insurgents served to increase both domestic and foreign pressure on Qaboos to launch democratic reforms. A series of incremental measures have been introduced to modernise and liberalise this previous autocratic regime. 2 consultative assemblies, the Majlis as Shura (which evolved from the old Consultative Assembly) and the more recently formed Majlis al Dawlah, were originally groomed to assume the functions of a bicameral parliament at the turn of the millennium.

This has not happened, nor is it probable to do so for the foreseeable future. The 2 Majlis have some influence over domestic affairs, and the franchise that elects them has been steadily expanded to include all men and women over the age of 21, but no say in foreign and defence matters.

The most recent poll for the Majlis as Shura in November 2003 registered little change in its make up, no formal political parties are allowed but supporters of the Sultan are in the majority.

Relations with Oman’s immediate neighbours have been cordial, mainly with Yemen, since the end of the PFLO insurgency and the unification of Yemen itself. In recent years, Omani concerns have been focused further afield.

In 1981, Oman was a founder member of the Gulf Co operation Council and has played a leading role in promoting its growing involvement in regional security issues. Oman’s strategic importance to the West has been underlined throughout the last 2 decades as it has been used as a staging post for Anglo-American military, naval and air operations during the Iran-Iraq War, the counter-invasion of Kuwait and, in more recent times, both the assaults on Afghanistan and Iraq.

In 1994, Oman was the 1st Gulf state to establish official relations with Israel. Since 1998, it has also developed good relations with Iran, now extending as far as mutual security co operation in the Gulf.