Population: 3.2 million.
Oman is one of the few Gulf nations where foreign workers (30%) don't outnumber the local population (70%). Most non-Omanis (30%) are Baluchi, South Asian (Indian, Pakistan, Sri Lankan, Bangladesh) and African.
Arabic is the official language, with English, Baluchi, Urdu and Indian dialects.
Ibadhi Muslim is the official religion of Oman. However, Shia and Sunni Muslims, Christians and Hindus also live there. 86% of the people are Muslim with 6.5% Christian and 5.5% Hindu.
Oman is 87% literate with average life expectancy in the 70’s. It is, however, one of the Middle Eastern countries that are dealing with the issue of HIV AIDS and Obesity.
The Sultanate of Oman is a popular place for visitors and expatriates. With its long and beautiful coastline, sandy deserts and high mountains, coupled with friendly people and a booming economy, Oman has a lot to offer.
Although the pace of life is slower than neighboring Dubai, people appreciate the mix of western, Arab and Indian influences.
Most Omanis are Ibadhi Muslims that are known for being tolerant of foreigners and other faiths.
The capital city of Muscat has 635 000 people.
Oman is usually warm to very hot, with desert inland and humidity on the coast, and monsoon weather in the south in summer.
Oman is rich in crude oil along with copper, asbestos, limestone, marble, gypsum and natural gas.
Oman is an absolute monarchy, ruled by Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said, who’s been in power since 1970 when he overthrew his father. Political parties are illegal and therefore there are no other leaders or pressure groups in the government. The monarch is both chief of state and the head of government, he appoints the cabinet and the ruling family council appoints his successor from the Sultan’s extended family.
Oman gained independence in 1650 when they expelled the Portuguese.
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. The current Sultan’s extensive modernization program has opened the country to the outside world while preserving the longstanding close ties with the UK.
Oman’s economy is heavily dependent on dwindling oil reserves. This has led the government to seek to diversify the nation's economy, especially into tourism and gas based industries.
Tourist visas are available on arrival (at cost) for some nationalities. Other nationalities need prearranged tourist visas. Even with a tourist visa, you would have to leave the country every two months.
Most people staying long term in Oman have a job, which allows them to get a residence visa.
Oman has 132 airports, but only 13 are paved.
Frankincense and myrrh are popular purchases in the Dhofar region. It has historically been a center for production and is widely available in all souqs in Oman. Yet all the frankincense trees only grow in the wild.
Yalainous, who lived from 23-79 AD, is one of the earliest Roman historians to have mentioned Oman (more precisely, Omana).
Cost of Living
Oman is not cheap. Renting a 3 bedroom flat in Muscat is around $1250/month.
A single should allow $2000/month (language learning, travel or health insurance is additional).