The date is set and on Monday, August 26th I will begin my year of service in Muscat, Oman!
All summer I have been obsessively researching my new home. I’ve already found the local choir (Muscat Singers), the local running club (Muscat Road Runners), and of course the local Anglican Church (Protestant Church in Oman). At this point, I feel more excited than nervous, and I am eager to get started.
In addition to researching activities, I’ve also spent some time researching the history and culture of Oman. Keep reading for a super brief overview of what I’ve learned so far.
20 Facts About Oman
- Oman is one of the oldest human-inhabited places on earth with archaeological evidence dating back 106,000 years.
- Oman is the oldest independent state in the Arab world, ruled by the Al Said family since 1744.
- Oman became an Islamic country in the 7th century, during the lifetime of Muhammad.
- Oman is currently the only country with a majority Ibadi population.
- The Portuguese controlled the coast of Oman for nearly 150 years, ending in 1650. You can still visit the Portuguese forts today.
- In 1698, the Imam of Oman invaded Zanzibar and drove the Portuguese away from the island. He also occupied parts of coastal northern Mozambique. Oman used this toehold in East Africa as a slave market, supplying African forced labor to the Indian Ocean world.
- In 1967 oil was exported from Oman for the first time.
- Oman is an absolute monarchy ruled by Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said who ascended to power in 1970. He is the longest-serving ruler in the Middle East.
- The first hotel in Oman was built in 1970, and the tourism industry has been growing ever since.
- In 1971 Oman joined the Arab league and the United Nations.
- In 1996, Sultan Qaboos introduced the ‘Basic Statutes of the States’, Oman’s first written constitution, which guarantees rights within the framework of Qur’anic and customary law.
- In 2003 women in Oman were allowed to vote for the first time.
- Approximately 46% of the residents in Oman are ex-patriates, mostly from India, Pakistan, and Sri-Lanka.
- Typical clothing is long-sleeved and modest, and most Muslim women cover their heads. I will only need to cover my head inside mosques.
- Alcohol can only be purchased by non-muslims with an alcohol license, and restrictions limit the money you can spend on alcohol to 10% of your monthly income.
- The official name of the country is “The Sultanate of Oman”
- Hospitality is incredibly important to Omanis. Guests are frequently welcomed with coffee and dates.
- In Oman, frankincense trees grow naturally in the wild. Many homes burn frankincense in every room.
- The official language is Arabic, but most signs are written in both Arabic and English.
- The climate is HOT, with averages in the 70s in winter and the 120s in summer. Along the coast, it is often humid too.