Welcome to Oman! I would like to introduce myself - my name is Waheeda (Wah-he-duh) Touma (Too-mah) and I will be your tour guide for the remainder of this article. Right now, we are located in the little-known country of Oman. After you have finished reading this article, Oman will not be little-known anymore because you will have learned about it's population, currency, social issues, cuisine and everything that defines Oman. Let's begin our journey!
Oman is a Middle Eastern country bordering the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. The country is surrounded by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The capital city of Oman is Muscat. Oman is one of the oldest civilizations in the Arabic Peninsula.
Oman has a population of just 3,418,038, making it the 134th most populated country in the world. The nationality, referred to as Omanis, is made up of Arabs, Baluchis, South Asians (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi) and Africans. Most of the population follows the Islamic faith, with a small percentage practicing Hinduism. 75% of the population is Ibadhi Muslim while 25% follows other denominations (including Sunni Muslim, Shia Muslim and Hinduism). The official language of Oman is Arabic, followed by English, Baluchi, Urdu, and Indian dialects. The average life expectancy is 74 years of age.
Currency -- Omani rial (OMR)
Oman has a monarchy government. The monarch has two significant duties: he is the chief of state and head of government. The current Sultan and Prime Minister (2009) is QABOOS bin Said al-Said (pictured above). He has held the position of Sultan since June 23, 1970 when he overthrew his father. He has also been the Prime Minister since June 23, 1972.
Compared to the world, Oman spends the most money on military activities - 11.4% of it's GDP on four military branches.
Summer winds often become heavy sandstorms and dust storms. Oman also experiences periodic droughts. Other environmental issues include beach pollution stemming from oil spills and limited natural fresh water resources.
Oman relies heavily on its oil resources, which are diminishing. Hence, the economy is currently being transformed so that the oil sector contributes 9% to the GDP by 2020. Oman is seeking private foreign investors and planning to develop its gas, metal, petrochemicals and international transhipment industries.
Domestic workers and laborers are often mistreated and become victims of trafficking. Mistreatment of domestic workers consists of defaulting of wages, limits on traveling, custody of passports, and abuse (physical and sexual). Oman was rated as a Tier 3 country for the second year in a row for failing to implement laws that punish trafficking offenses. Oman still lacks victim protection services and a methodical process to identify trafficking victims.
Chicken, fish and mutton are popular ingredients in Omani cuisine. A popular beverage is laban, which is salty buttermilk. Another favorite is yogurt drinks sprinkled with cardamom and pistachio nuts (pictured above). Also, dates are a symbol of Omani hospitality and are often served with khawa (coffee).
Oatmeal Date Bars
1 Rectangular baking pan (size is optional)
1 Mixing bowl
1 cup of white flour
1 cup of raw oatmeal
1 cup of packed, chopped pitted dates
2/3 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup of chopped nuts (optional)
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
1. Boil the dates for 5 minutes or until they become soft and bubbly.
2. Remove the dates from heat. Add lemon juice and nuts (nuts are optional). This is your filling.
3. In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. Cut the margarine and add it to the mixture. The mixture is ready when it looks like crumbs.
3. Pour 2/3 of the mixture into a baking pan.
4. Spread the filling over it.
5. Pour the remaining mixture overtops. Lightly press the mixture. The mixture should be flaky but you are pressing it so it sticks to the filling.
6. Bake in an oven at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until the top turns golden.
7. Cut into squares and serve warm or cool.
Tourist Attraction -- Nizwa Castle
Though this attraction opened in January 2007, Nizwa Castle has been around since the 17th century. Nizwa was the capital of Oman in the 17th century during the reign of Imam Sultan Bin Saif Al-Ya'arubi. The Sultan built and operated from the castle. Nizwa Castle's most striking feature is its central tower - a circular tower with a massive 150-feet diameter soaring 115 feet above the rest of the castle. The tower includes battlements, secret passages and false doors.
I hope you enjoyed your tour of Oman. Remember to visit again!
Author's Note: Sources: