The timeless wonders of Oman

There was a time when the Sultanate of Oman had its own empire and vied with the forces of Portugal and Great Britain for influence in the waters of the Indian Ocean and the trading routes of the Persian Gulf. Its military strength has considerably dwindled down over the years, but its rich history and economic strength have made it a hot spot for travellers from all over the world. Like its fellow Middle Eastern neighbours of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, Oman is also a land rich in oil. This has given it a rate of economic growth that is admirable. But it also gets significant income from other sources like agriculture and fishing.

The history of this nation goes all the way back to Sumerian times. Stone tablets have been found that refer to this region as Makan or Magan, which is believed to be a reference to the copper mines that ancient Oman contained in plenty. It was in the 1970s when Oman began its journey on the path to modernity when Sultan Qaboos opened up the economy to reforms and embarked on a policy of modernisation. This country is one of the founding members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The national language of the nation is Arabic, but there are also other languages spoken among minorities like Balochi, Southern Arabic, and tribal Semitic languages. However, English is widely used and one can find boards in both English and Arabic while driving through this country. Oman has always had a vibrant ship building industry and its seafaring explorers were the reason that this country has such rich and enduring ties with countries in Africa, Indian Sub-continent and the Middle East. The influx of people from these regions is also one of the reasons that the country has such a colourful diversity that distinguishes it from its Middle Eastern neighbours.

Many of the main sightseeing attractions can be found in the capital city Muscat. The city is very liberal with Hindu temples standing cheek by jowl with grand mosques. The city is home to an elegant sixteenth century Portuguese fort that overlooks the harbour. It is also home to many museums and galleries. The Al Alam Palace is one of the major landmarks of the city. There are numerous beaches that add charm to the city. Muscat is the most important point of entry into Oman and its airport has connections to destinations all over the world.

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