HEAD OF STATE: His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin
Said (since 1970)
AREA: 309,500 sq. km.
Yemen Arab Republic, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and
the United Arab Emirates.
POPULATION: 2,331,391 (2003 Census).
The official language is Arabic. Islam is the
official religion, but other religions are
MAJOR CITIES: Salalah, Nizwa, Sur, Sohar
CURRENCY: Rial Omani (OR) of 1,000 baizas =
LIFE EXPECTANCY: 73.8 years
POPULATION GROWTH RATE: 2% (2003)
GOVERNMENT: A bicameral system.
The Council of Oman consists of the Consultation
Council and the State Council.
The Consultation members are elected by the Omani
citizens, and the State Council members are
appointed by HM The Sultan.
TIME DIFFERENCE: GMT + 4 hours
OMAN – Tradition and modernity
Oman lies at the eastern corner of the Arabian
peninsula. Sharjah and Fujairah (UAE) separate the
main part of Oman from the northernmost part of
the state, a peninsula (Musandam) extending into
the Strait of Hormuz. It is for many Westerners a
country waiting to be discovered.
Historically Omanis were seafarers and traders who
dominated regional commodity trading in the Indian
Ocean, East Africa and the Arabian Gulf. There
were thus a succession of migrations which saw the
growth of settlements along some parts of the East
Prior to the coming on stream of oil in 1964, the
country was dependent on the agricultural sector
and on fishing activities. In 1970, Oman had just
3 kms of asphalted roads. Asking a 50-year old
Omani man to describe his country in the 1960s,
the answer was simply: “There was nothing …”.
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, the son of Sultan Said,
was aware of his father’s conservatism so he took
over power in 1970. Since that time His Majesty
has strived to modernize his country and oil
revenues have given him the opportunity to develop
a modern infrastructure of roads, ports and
airports, as well as first-class
telecommunications and broadcasting systems. Some
50 hospitals have been opened throughout the
country and educational programmes for all ages
Of course oil reserves will be exhausted one day
and the country is therefore diversifying its
economy, especially in the field of tourism. Among
the Gulf states, Oman has many advantages for
developing tourism: its climate, varied scenery,
archaeological and historical remains, as well as
its friendly people. With its high standard of
hotel accommodation, it can satisfy even the most
These days the high status Omani women enjoy is
reflected in the priority accorded to them in the
country’s development plans. According to the 2003
Census, 49% of the population of the Sultanate are
women, many of whom are below the age of 18 and
have enjoyed the same educational opportunities as
boys of a similar age.
The Personal Status Law guarantees Omani women
equal rights in both education and employment.
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos has repeatedly called
upon the female population to lend their full
support to the continuing the development of their
country. An example of this is His Majesty’s
speech on the occasion of the opening of the
Second Term of the Consultation Council (Majlis
a’Shura) in December 1994: “We call upon Omani
women everywhere, in the villages and cities, in
both urban and Bedu communities, in the hills and
mountains, to roll up their sleeves and contribute
to the process of economic and social development.
We have great faith in the educated young Omani
women to work devotedly..”. They have responded by
seeking and securing jobs from government minister
to supermarket check-out assistant.
Women have the right to vote and run for office in
Consultation Council elections which are held
every 4 years, e.g. in the 5th 2003 elections
there were 584 candidates and 16 women were among
them representing various regions of the
Sultanate. Two were then elected. Additionally,
His Majesty has appointed 9 women to serve on the
Council of State (Majlis a’Dawla) for a 4-year
term of office.
The number of women holding senior positions has
risen steadily – on 5th March 2003 Aisha al Siyabia
was appointed as President of the Public Authority
for Craft Industries, with the rank of Minister.
On 8th March 2004 Dr Rawiyah bint Saud al
Busaidiyah was promoted to become Minister of
Higher Education, making her the first female
minister with portfolio in Oman’s history. These
were followed on 9th June 2004 when Royal Decree
N. 61/2004 established a Ministry of Tourism and
named a woman, Rajiha bint Abdulamir to be its
Minister. Then on 22nd October 2004 Dr Sharifa
bint Khalfan Al Yahya-eyah, a university
professor, was appointed to take over the Ministry
of Social Development.
Oman is rightly proud to have been the first Arab
country to appoint a woman to head an overseas
Embassy when Khadija al Lawatia was appointed the
Sultanate’s Ambassador to the Netherlands and at
the end of 2005 , Hanina Bint Sultan al-Maghiria
is to be Oman's Ambassador in Washington. In 2003
an Omani woman was appointed to head the United
Nations Information Centre, based in Geneva,
Switzerland, with authority over an international
network of 77 information centres and more than
Women are also making strides in the legal
profession with 5 ladies appointed as Deputy
Attorneys-General in May 2004.
Statistics show that Omani women in the Civil
Service account for 3l% of the total personnel,
18% of the private sector’s employees registered
with the Public Authority for Social Insurance are
women, as well as 56% of teaching positions at
government schools are taken by women.
In higher education, female students make up 61%
of students studying at education colleges, 26% at
the Sharia and Law College, while at Sultan Qaboos
University girls represent 55% of students
admitted at diploma level, 50% at degree level and
35% admitted for postgraduate studies.
Omani Women’s Associations (OWAs)
The OWA provides a channel for voluntary work and
child welfare services, and 39 branches with 2,738
members can be found throughout Oman.Omani women
are encouraged to become involved in voluntary
social work and to contribute to the development
of their communities. This is in addition to
around 3,000 female volunteers in the UNICEF
In 1994 Oman established national women’s teams in
volleyball, basketball, tennis, table tennis and
several other sports. There are also both
government and privately-run centres around the
Sultanate which encourage women to preserve their
national heritage by teaching traditional crafts
and skills. These centres also provide
kindergartens, information programmes and field
visits, as well as giving the ladies opportunities
to take part in conferences and tourism fairs
Useful information :-
Occasions and Events
Oman Important Sites