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Oman, the small country located in the far southeastern part of the Arab Peninsula, is full of marvellous natural wonders and architectural beauty. Although that is true, there are lots of things about Oman that are not well known. Here we have gathered the top things most people don’t know about Oman.
Oman has been ruled by the Omani Al Said Family since 1744. It was one of the most isolated and traditional countries in the Arab World, until the 1970s when Sultan Qaboos became the ruler. It is also estimated that humans have been living in Oman for at least 106,000 years, making it one of the oldest human-inhabited countries on Earth.
Sultan Qaboos Bin Said took office as the official ruler of Oman on the 23rd of July in 1970. Since then, the country has witnessed dramatic improvements in educational, economic, financial and political standards. The country is developing rapidly and people are becoming happier. As Oman is a Sultanate, Sultan Qaboos is to name his successor whom will take control after his death.
According to the Global Terrorism Index, Oman is one of the safest and most secure countries in the Arab World. In the latest report of 2016- 2017, Oman came near last on the list, with a score of 0, which means it is one of the countries with the least terrorism in the world.
The endangerd Arabian Oryx is a white antelope with a unique shoulder bump, long straight horns and a tufted tail. They live in the deserts of the Arab Peninsula, most famously in Oman. The Arabian Oryx or the White Oryx, is referred to and called the Maha in Oman. They are the national animal of the country and famous Omani gas stations are named after them.
The Sultan Qaboos University was the first university in the country and was established in 1986. It is a prestigious university and getting into one of its faculties requires high scores in high school. It is located in Al Khoud in the Capital Governorate of Muscat. The university is a whole town in itself as it provides accommodation, stores, a library and is open for all Omanis.
When looking at the map of Oman, it looks like a small peninsula in the sense that it is surrounded by water from three different directions; north, east and south. Giving its long coastline, and its closeness to two important gulfs; the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and its closeness to the Oman Sea and to the Indian Ocean, Omanis turned to shipbuilding as one of their main jobs and source of income. Omanis didn’t only practice the industry of shipbuilding, but they perfected it. Their ships would sail around the world, and some Omani coastal cities like Sur, were globally known as centers of ships and ship repairs. Today Omanis are regarded some of the best ship builders on Earth.
The Arabian or the Arab Horse is a unique breed that originated in the Arab Peninsula, and is one of the oldest breeds in the world. It is one of the most desirable and recognizable breeds of horses. The Arabian Horse is known for its distinctive head shape and high tail carriage. Arabian horses are famous for their great endurance riding, speed, refinement, and strong bones. They are also known to be good natured, quick to learn, and willing to please their owners, as long as they are respected and cared for.
Oman has four sites that were declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They include: Bahla Fort, the Archeological Sites of Bat, Al Khutm and Al Ayn, the exceptional irrigation systems of Al Aflaj around the country, and the Land of Frankincense (referring to a splendid area in the Dhofar region in southern Oman, which has Wadi Dawkah, the caravan oasis of Shisr/Wubar, and the ports of Khor Rori and Al-Baleed). This area represent the place where the ancient frankincense trade took place in Oman.
Alcohol is not widely consumed by the largely Muslim Omanis. It is almost unheard of to drink, except by tourists and non-Muslims. In Oman, a person needs a license, which is issued by the police, to buy alcohol.
Frankincense was one of the most precious gifts that used to be given to the kings and royalties around the world. It is believed that its growth is declining around the world. Oman is one of the few countries where frankincense trees are grown naturally especially in the southern part of the country.
Coffee is called kahwa in Arabic. In Oman, kahwa refers to the whole course of hospitality as it includes Omani coffee, dates, fruits, sweets and bakeries. Nonetheless, the kahwa drink is a unique blend of Arabian coffee that is usually mixed with cardamon. Omanis drink it several times a day, offer it to guests, and send freshly made coffee pots to their neighbors.
The green turtle is an endangered creature. Oman has one of the few green turtle reserves in Ras Al Jinz in Al Sharqiya region eastern Oman. Green turtles migrate frequently to Ras Al Jinz beach to lay their eggs. Special tours are organized to witness this unique process which takes place early in the morning, before the sunrise. Moreover, visitors witness baby turtles hatching and returning to the sea. Hunting is prohibited in Ras Al Jinz, and punished harshly to assure the safety and comfort of the green turtles.
Omani architecture is mind blowing in design and structure. All Omani forts, castles, buildings, palaces and even houses are good examples. Almost every Omani house has an ornamental or uniquely decorated door. A walk down an Omani street is a pleasing experience and a great way to enjoy the Omani architecture.
As Oman is famous for its mouthwatering dates and kahwa, there is no house in Oman that is not scented with Frankincense. Omanis burn frankincense every day and leave it in every room of their houses. That’s why sometimes, just walking in the streets, you will smell frankincense.