Muscat flourishes in the prosperous and peaceful Sultanate of Oman.
Situated on the Arabian Peninsula, often amid Middle East chaos and turmoil, Oman manages to maintain a countenance of decorum and civility. Evading military clashes between its neighboring states, it implemented long-range plans for development and emergence. Much of the activity focuses on its capital city, Muscat.
Lying between the El Hajar Mountains and the Arabian Sea, Muscat serves as the seat of the country’s political, administrative and economic systems and home to a third of the country’s 4.5 million residents. With its proximity to the sensitive Strait of Hormuz, Muscat proved a historically important trading port in the Gulf of Oman, attracting foreign tradesmen and settlers who came to trade in fishing and agriculture. Persians, Spaniards and Ottomans were among overseas travelers to ancient Muscat, admired as “very elegant” by a 16th-century Portuguese writer.
Muscat’s sprawling 1,400 square miles divide into three principal urban areas: Muscat proper, the original settlement and now an enclave of restored historic homes and buildings; Waterfront Muttrah, the harbor scene of shipping and cruise ship anchorages, upgrading to enhance its appeal to visiting tourists; and the commercial district centered in Ruwi, a cluster of high-rise apartments, office buildings and headquarters of international companies.
Ruled since the 18th century by the Al Said Dynasty, friction with imams of the interior destabilized the sultanate until 1970 when Qaboos bin Said, with assistance from the British, overthrew his father in a bloodless coup. Consolidating and renaming the region the Sultanate of Oman, Sultan Qaboos united tribal territories and launched programs to end the country’s isolation and to use oil revenues for modernization and development. Slavery was abolished, and freedom of religion was allowed.
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