Oman History

Oman History

The area of ​​today’s Oman was probably already settled in the Stone Age. Even before the area was Islamized around 630, the local Bedouin tribes traded copper and incense. The western part of the country (Dhofar province) belongs to the rule of the Sabeans.

After the first division of Islam in 657, today’s Sultanate of Oman became a retreat for the followers of Ibadism, a special form of Islam. It was named after the founder of this movement, Abdulla bin Ibadh, who fought in Persia in the 7th century against the secularization of Islam and for the return to Islamic traditions. Despite the close orientation to the Koran, the Ibadites remained relatively tolerant towards other believers. The Imam of the Ibadites was elected by the religious community in the country and could also be voted out of office under certain conditions. In the 9th century, the Ibadites founded their own empire (Imamat) in the area of ​​what is now Oman, which became an important trading power in the Arab region over the next few centuries.

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In 1509, the city of Muscat on the Gulf of Oman and several other port cities were conquered by the Portuguese seafarer Alfonso de Albuquerque. In the 17th century, the Jaruba tribe succeeded in uniting the hostile tribes of Oman and using common forces to drive the Portuguese out of the country. They even managed to take Portuguese possessions in East Africa.

After the Jaruba dynasty, the Said dynasty, which still rules today, followed in the middle of the 18th century. In the first half of the 19th century, the Imamat reached its peak, the area covered large parts of the Persian coast and areas on the east coast of Africa. The island of Zanzibar was even temporarily the seat of the residence of the Sultan of Oman. Muscat and Suhar were important centers of caravan and sea trade with Africa, India and Persia. According to AbbreviationFinder, the main trades were spices and slaves from Africa. In 1856, Oman was divided into the Sultanate of Muscat and the Sultanate of Zanzibar.

From the beginning of the 19th century, the great European power Great Britain began to expand its influence in the Persian Gulf. The first contracts between Oman and the British East India Company were concluded as early as 1800, and in 1890 the Sultan of Muscat concluded another protection contract with the British. The country remained formally sovereign, but was increasingly under the influence of Britain. With the help of British troops, the Sultan Said Ibn Taimur succeeded in occupying the Ibadite Imamat, founded in 1913 by hill tribes in the interior, to drive out the Imam and to appoint himself the religious head of the country. The Seeb Peace Treaty (1920) stipulated that the sultan should in future have secular power, the imam religious power in the country.

With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1896 and the advent of the first European steamships, which were far superior to the Arab sailing ships, Oman lost its importance as a maritime power. Oil was found in the Dhofar province in the mid-20th century, and thanks to the rapidly flourishing oil export, Oman quickly became one of the most prosperous countries in the world.

Under the extremely conservative government of Sultan Said Ibn Taimur, who prevented modernization of the country, Oman remained a backward country despite its newly acquired wealth: slavery was maintained, the school system was shaped by Koran schools (there were only a few primary schools that were only boys) allowed to be visited and where foreign languages ​​were strictly forbidden), public life remained severely restricted, there was hardly any electricity nationwide. In the mid-1960s there was an internal uprising against this restrictive policy, in 1970 the incumbent sultan was deposed by his son Quabus Ibn Said (Ibn Taimur al-Said) in a bloodless coup d’¨¦tat with the help of English officers. The new sultan who had trained in the UKopened up the country to external influences and modernized it. His first steps included abolishing slavery, lifting exit and exit restrictions, and equating men and women in public life. The form of government of the monarchy remained untouched without a parliament and without political parties and the preservation of Islam as a state religion.

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Within a short time, the country changed to a modern welfare state with a well-developed infrastructure and social, health and education system. At the same time, the country broke away from British influence, but continued to maintain good relations with the western countries. In 1971 Great Britain withdrew from the Gulf region. Oman joined both the United Nations and the Arab League, an organization founded in Cairo in 1945 to improve economic, political and military cooperation between the Arab countries. Domestically, the sultan had to deal with communist-oriented groups (“Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arabian Gulf”, FPLOGA; from 1974 only PLFO) in the province of Dhofar, which were supported by southern Yemen and other countries. The conflict could only be finally settled in the early 1980s.

After fundamentalism began its triumphal march in Iran at the end of the 1970s and the first Gulf War between Iran and Iraq broke out (until 1988), Oman concluded a pact of assistance with the United States and approved a military base on the island of Masirah (located on the southeastern coast of Oman). In 1981, Oman became a member of the Gulf Council to coordinate the region’s economy and defense. In 2009 Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said made his first state visit to Iran for three days since 1979.

In the second Gulf War (1990/91), the country joined the anti-Iraqi coalition. In the same year the Sultan founded a national assembly (“Madjlis al-Shura”), which has only an advisory function. Universal suffrage was introduced for the Madjlis al-Shura in 2002; the first general election was held in 2003. In 1996 the Sultan first issued a constitutional order (“Basic Law of the State”). In 1997, the National Council (Majlis al-Dawla) created a second parliamentary chamber, which advises the government and the Madjlis al-Shura and whose members are appointed. Since the 1990s, Oman’s leadership has been trying to make the country’s economy independent of oil export and diversify (the country’s oil reserves are expected to be exhausted by 2020). State funding began the intensive expansion of agriculture, fisheries.

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