Omanis protested asking for salary increases, lower costs of living, more jobs and a reduction in corruption. Among the response of the Sultan, is worth noting, the reshuffle of the cabinet, the pledge to create 50,000 government jobs, provide a monthly benefit of $390 to the unemployed and ordered a committee to draft proposals for boosting the power of an elected council that advises him in state affairs. Overall the response of the protesters were positive and by April 2011, a prominent figure of the protest, Dr Hussain Al Abry, said "60 to 80 percent of demands have already been met so there is no reason to continue protesting."
The most powerful cyclone in the region for decades created severe damage to the oil production and devastated portions of the coastline south of Muscat. The human loss count over 50 people killed. The damage cost approximately $4 billion.
An important landmark in the slow democratization of the country came in 2003 when the right to vote was granted to all Omani citizens over the age of 21.
A non-violent coup orchestrated by the son of Sultan Said bin Taimur, the 30 year old Qaboos, removed the Sultan from power. The coup was almost bloodless. Qaboos immediately pushed for great social, economic and military reforms. In the years after the coup he focused on the improvement of the Omani infrastructure such as Mina Qaboos Port in Muttrah, the development of health care facilities and schools. A process of opening up the country in the next decades brought Oman outside the isolation in which Said bin Taimur had put the country.
Oman became a oil-based economy for the first time. The oil fields of Fahud, Natih and Yabal, even though for the Middle Eastern standard were quite small, created an extremely important source of income for Oman.
The rebellion was launched in the Dhofar region in response to the ruling of the Sultan Said bin Timur who relied on the British to maintain the basic function of the state. The dissatisfied tribal leader, Mussalim bin Nafl, formed the Dhofar Liberation Front (DLF) to fight the severe economic exploitation that was going on in the Dhofar region. The rebellion was marked by a campaign of hit-and-run attacks on oil company installations and government posts. In April 1966 the “Dhofar Force”, a group of men locally recruited to maintain order in the region, attempted to assassinate the Sultan. The Sultan reacted by hiding in his palace in Salalah and this situation helped create rumors that the British were running Oman through a "phantom" Sultan. A heavy military offensive against the DLF took place, against the advice of the British advisors. In 1967 with the Six Day War which radicalised opinion throughout the Arab world. The other was the British withdrawal from Aden and the establishment of the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY). From this point, the rebels had a source of arms, supplies and training facilities adjacent to Dhofar, and fresh recruits from groups in the PDRY. In 1968 the Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arabian Gulf (PFLOAG) was formed and help came from China, South Yemen and Soviet Union. After the coup that brought Sultan Qaboos to power, the announcement of an amnesty for surrendered fighters, and aid in defending their communities from rebels was an important strategy that slowed down the rebellion. On the military side, China and Iran established relationships, and for the Dhofar rebels this meant the end of army supply. At the same time the Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces (SAF) intensified the efforts with the support of British forces and 1200 man Iranian brigade. In October 1975 the SAF launched a final offensive to a position codenamed Simba at Sarfait near the border with Yemen and defeated the rebels in January 1976.
Oman, under the ruling of Said bin Taimur, sold the province of Gwadar on the Makran coast to the Pakistan government for $1 million.
The oil found in the region of Farhud, part of the Imamate territory, prompted the Sultan to violate the Treaty of Seeb and take over the Imamate lands. The Imam, Ghalib Bin Ali Al Hinai, in 1954 rebelled against the forces that were defending the oil fields. The Imamate received support from Saudi Arabia where the Imam's brother, Talib bin Ali Al Hinai, took refuge. In 1957 the second phase of the Jebel Akhdar rebellion took place. Talib bin Ali Al Hinai came back with 300 well equipped fighters and occupied a fortified tower near Bilad Sait. Muscat Regiment, theTrucial Oman Levies and the British Army forced the rebels to the inaccessible Jebel Akhdar. In 1959, after two years of stalemate, two squadrons from the British Special Air Service Regiment took the rebels by surprise and put an end to the war.
Sultan Said bin Taimur replaced his father on the throne on February 10th 1932. He consolidated the power on the interior with the help of the British SAS. The scarce state budget, consisted of fish and date exports, oil concession rental and Zanzibar subsidy. His reign, economically, was marked by a complete aversion towards debt. He balanced the books and never went into debt. In a quite famous and rare public statement in 1958 he wrote “Doubtless it would have been easy to obtain money in various ways, but this could only have been by a loan with interest at a set percentage rate. This amounts to usury, with which I completely disagree, and the religious prohibition of which is not unknown”.
Sultan Taimur granted the exploration rights to the D'Arcy Exploration Company which failed to find any commercially viable deposits in the area west of the Hajar mountains.
The four conditions agreement (Seeb Agreement) was signed between the people of Muscat and the tribes who populated the interior. 1) The Sultan undertook not to impose taxes higher than 5% on any good coming to the coast from the interior 2) The Sultan promised to grant freedom and security to all Omanis once in the coastal provinces 3) The Sultan promised to lift all impediments to people who were trying to leave or enter Muscat and Muttrah 4) Not to interfere in situations that were under the jurisdiction of the Imam's government. The Omanis of the interior promised not to attack the coastal towns, grant the right to trade with the interior, not giving protection (asylum) to anyone fleeing the Sultan's justice. Seeb Agreement wasn't a real treaty, for example it has nothing to say for matters related to conflicting claims to sovereignty. The mediation of the British was fundamental to reach the agreement.
Taimur bin Faisal took power on October 5th 1913 when his father passed away. The economic situation due to a consistent external debt, was precarious. The political situation was even worse, with the tribes of the interior firmly against the Sultan who wasn't recognized.
Determined to thwart any growth in French presence in what Britain considered its sphere of influence, Britain presented Faisal ibn Turki with an ultimatum in 1899 ordering the sultan to board the British flagship or Muscat would be bombarded. Having little recourse, Faisal ibn Turki capitulated. Publicly humiliated, his authority was irreversibly damaged.
Sultan Faisal bin Turki signed a commercial treaty with the British. The Sultan committed to “never to cede, to sell, to mortgage or otherwise give for occupation save to the British government, the dominions of Muscat and Oman or any of their dependencies”. The fact that the British did not conduct any foreign policy, prevents the use of the word “Protectorate”.
Years of rivalry to control Muscat between French and British. Sheikh Faisal bin Turki granted the French coaling facilities for their fleet at Bandar Jissah near Muscat and the British were determined to prevent the growth of their presence.
With the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty, in which Germany pledged, among other things, not to interfere with British interests in Zanzibar, Zanzibar and Pemba became a British protectorate. British rule through a sultan remained mostly unchanged.
Sheikh Faisal bin Turki came to power on June 4th 1888, when his father Turki bin Said passed away. His time in power was marked by loosing the control over the interior where the tribal leaders increasingly perceived his dependence on British advisers as an inherent weakness.
On January 30th 1871, Sheikh Turki bin Said, became Sultan of Muscat and Oman. He ruled until June 4th 1888.
The formalization of the split between Muscat and Zanzibar came in the form of an annual payment to Muscat. It wasn't in a way of tribute but of compensation for Muscat giving up all the claims on the island, and also to balance the inequality of the inheritances of the two sons from their father Said bin Sultan.
Wahhabi incursions from the north and the west, dissension within the ruling family as proved by the three sultans killed while in power ( Thuwaini bin Said 1866, Salim II bin Thuwaini 1868, Azzan bin Qais 1871) and economic decline due to Britain's pressure to suppress slaving activities, all weaken Oman.
Said bin Sultan was in Persia to negotiate the renewal of his lease on Bandar Abbas when his son, Khalid bin Said who was ruling Zanzibar on his behalf, died. Khalid's brother took control of the government of Zanzibar stirring up the enduring opposition from the Barawina. Said bin Sultan stopped the negotiations with the Persians and sailed to Zanzibar where he never arrived dying at sea. He left one son ruling over Zanzibar, Majid, and another one in Muscat, Thuwaini.
In 1840 Said bin Sultan moved to Zanzibar, which was under Omani political control, and brought the capital to Stone Town. His power over the interior area of Oman weakened and the elected imams took advantage and created a fraction between Muscat and the coast and the inland Oman.
Britain and Oman signed three different anti-slavery treaties in 1822, 1839 and 1845. Considering the heavy dependence on slavery, especially in Zanzibar, these treaties created weaken the economy of Oman.
In 1804 Sultan bin Ahmad died on an expedition to Basra (Iraq) and the two sons Salim bin Sultan and Said bin Sultan co-rule until 1806. Sultan Said bin Sultan became the sole ruler of Oman, apparently with the consent of his brother and with the influence of their aunt, the daughter of the Imam Ahmad bin Said al-Busaidi. During his reign, Oman cultivated its colonies in the African Great Lakes, profiting from the slave trade. As a regional commercial power in the 19th century, Oman held territories on the island of Zanzibar on the Swahili Coast, the area along the coast of the African Great Lakes region known as Zanj including Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, and (until 1958) in Gwadar (in modern day Pakistan) on the coast of the Arabian Sea. But when the British declared slavery illegal in the mid-19th century, the sultanate's fortunes reversed.
Abd al-Aziz, the Saudi Amir, sent to Omani leaders the treatise Kashf al-Shubhat written by the Wahhabi founder Mohammed ibn Abd al-Wahab. The intention was to invite the Omani to convert to this new branch of Islam. The predictable refusal, brought al-Aziz to dispatched a military force that tried to conquer Sohar without much success. The Nubian slave general, Salim al-Hariq, and his troops were forced to withdraw to the oasis of Buraimi from where they took actions against the Omani for the next, roughly, twenty years.
Sultan bin Ahmad signed a treaty with the British among its seven articles three were specified commitments on the Omani part to limit their relations with the French. Other articles were related to the fortification of a factory in Bandar Abbas and details about how to treat each others friends and enemies.
On March 1792, the Sultan Hamad bin Said died of smallpox and his uncle Sultan bin Ahmad took his place. At that time the British had consolidated their position in India and subjugated the Indian rulers and overcome the other European powers militarily. The British control over the Indian Ocean increased dramatically and for Oman’s commercial interests were much more threatened than ever before.
Those are the years when the Colonial exapansion took place. Dutch, French, and above all, the British with the British East India Company, increased their interest over the Gulf. The French influence received a massive set back during the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon on his journey that was suppose to lead him to India and weaken Britain's interest, would have passed through Muscat, but with the defeat at the land battle at Abukir was forced to leave Egypt.
Ahmed bin Said after the turbulent years of the civil war, rose to power and started what is known as Al Bu Said dynasty which has ruled Oman ever since.
When Sultan bin Saif II realized that he was loosing power he asked the support of the Persians ruled by Nader Shah. The first Persian forces arrived in March 1737 and marched to the interior were they defeated the forces of Bal'arab bin Himyar. Until 1742, Sultan bin Saif II, maintained control but his self-indulgent life created discontent. Sultan bin Murshid was installed at Nakhal and began to fight back Saif bin Sultan who turned once again to the Persian support. In 1742 another Persian expedition took place, this time with the aim of taking Sohar and Muscat (both failures). The governor of Sohar, Ahmad bin Said al-Busaidi founder of the Al Bu Said dynasty, negotiated a surrender in 1744. Three years later with Persians in small number due to defections he invited the remaining Persian garrison to a banquet at his fort in Barka, where he massacred them.
After the death of Sultan bin Saif II, a struggle for power took place and in 1724 the country was split between two factions, the Bani Hina (Hinawi) led by Khalaf bin Mubarak and Bani Ghafiri (Ghafiri) led by Mohammed bin Nasir al-Yarubi. In 1728, they both got killed during a battle at Sohar. The garrison recognized Saif bin Sultan II as Imam and he was re-installed in Nizwa. The civil war carried on at intervals. It is worth noticing that it is in this contest of polarization Hinawi – Ghafiri that the idea of the division of Omani political life took shape.
Sultan bin Saif (1649–88) and his successors (Bil'arab bin Sultan (1688–92) and Saif bin Sultan(1692-1711) Saif bin Sultan II (1711-18) ) transformed Oman into a strong maritime power. They took over the Portuguese in East Africa and Zanzibar and attacked the Portuguese fleet as far as the Guharat coast in India. In 1698 the entire coast from modern day Somalia to Cape Delgado (border between Tanzania and Mozambique) were under Omani control. A possession that guaranteed them a terrific wealth deriving from the prosperous trade.
Sultan bin Saif completed the process started by his cousin and predecessor, Nasir bin Murshid, and expelled the Portuguese and took control of the key ports on the coast.
After being elected Imam, Nasir bin Murshid started the Yaruba dynasty (spelled also Ya'arubi or Ya'ariba). From 1624 to 1649 he expanded the political influence beyond the interior, moved the capital to Nizwa, took control of the forts in both Nakhl and Rustaq and most importantly created some sort of union among the tribes by using the common enemy, the Portuguese, as a glue.
The key locations along the Omani coast were dotted by forts built to protect the prosperous trades. Jalali and Merani forts in Muscat are still standing today, though not open to public. Originally known respectively with the names São João and Fort Capitan, in more recent time have been transformed into jail and military buildings.
Soon after the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrived in India (1498), the Portuguese, in the process of creating their overseas empire based around Goa, needed to secure the Kingdom of Hormuz. Under the guidance of Afonso de Albuquerque they managed to do so in 1515 not before having destroyed the fishing fleets based in Oman and the villages on the Omani coast. The control of the coast switched from the Kingdom of Hormuz to the Portuguese who typically left the control in the hands of local authorities and focused mainly on the development of trade.
Imams started to threaten the Banu Nabhan dynasty. It was a process that started during the 14th century and that progressed towards the 15th eroding the Banu Nabhan power of the Bahla region.
Ibn Battuta in his incredible journey, touched what is now Oman. He wrote about Qalhat “It has good markets and one of the most beautiful mosques in the world” and he visited and described Nizwa and explored Salalah.
The kingdom of Hormuz, from their stronghold on the island of Hormuz, became an important player in the Gulf controlling the trading routes from the Persian Gulf to India and East Africa. The entire coast of Oman is under their control.
Muhammed al-Fallah of the Banu Nabhan emerged as a powerful leader in 1151 and by 1154 he took control and established the Banu Nabhan dynasty. With the control of the route of frankincense (harvested in the region of Dhofar) they grew wealthy and with wealth arrived power. The imamate power and authority was reduced. They made Bahla their capital and the Bahla fort is an exhaustive example of the power that the dynasty had in the 13th and 14th centuries.
The Turko-Persian empire at the climax was in control of a vast area way beyond their homelands near the Aral sea. From the Hindu Kush passing through Central Asia to Eastern Anatolia and the Persian Gulf.
The Qarmatians, a religious group blending elements of Ismailism and Shia Islam, from their base in al-Hasa (eastern Saudi Arabia) represented a threat for the Abbasid caliphate. The Omani interior suffered numerous attacks with their constant attacks on the interior of Oman.
During the time of the Abbasid caliphate, the rulers from Baghdad had required massive tribute from what was acknowledged as a very rich land. The strategic position of Oman (but also Yemen and the Red Sea shore of modern day Saudi Arabia), was crucial on the commercial route that connected the Abbasid caliphate to the Malabar Coast in southern India, Sri Lanka, Java, Sumatra and Canton and the ports of southern China and southeast Asia. The extensive maritime trade brought to the coasts of the Arabian peninsula new crops. Agricultural reforms, taxation, and an income stabilization which consequently led to a population growth were other consequences of the Abbasid presence. In this period of time the capital of Oman was established in Nizwa, and switched due to the large impact that maritime trade had on the coast, to Sohar.
During the reign Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, the fifth Umayyad ruler, a movement broke off from the wider group of the Kharijite who previously opposed vehemently to the authority of the Rashidun Caliph Ali after he agreed to arbitration with his rival, Muawiyah I, to decide the succession to the Caliphate following the Battle of Siffin (657). The new school was called Ibadism, from the Abdu l-Lah ibn Ibad of the Banu Tamim tribe. The spiritual leader, though, was Jabir ibn Zayd of Nizwa (Oman), who in Basra (Iraq) developed the Ibadi theology. After his death in 711, the Ibadis found the life in Basra more difficult and under the next two imams they had been encouraged to migrate where their teachings could be practised without harassment. They arrived in Oman and Julanda bin Masud was elected first Imam in what will become Oman.
A faction of the Azd led by Laqit bin Malik Dhu at-Taj, after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632, rejected Islam. The troops of the caliph Abu Bakr, fought an intense battle. According to some sources more than 10.000 rebels were killed in what has been described as one of the biggest battles of the Ridda Wars.
When rumors of Islam, a new religion, reached Oman, the reaction of the tribes was instantly positive. Delegations were sent to Hijaz, the region where the two cities at the heart of Islam were located Medina and Mecca, to see what this new religion had to offer. Mazen bin Ghaddouba Al Tai’ Al Sama’ili was the first Omani to convert to Islam. He went to the Prophet Muhammad and said to him: ‘Oh you, descendent of the blessed and nobles, Allah has guided people from Oman to the right path of your religion. The land has become fertile and there has been an abundance of benefits and game’. The Prophet is reported to have replied: ‘My religion is Islam, and the people of Oman will be granted more fertility and game. Blessedness is guaranteed for those who believe in me and saw me, and to those who believe in me without seeing me. Allah will strengthen Islam in the hearts of Omanis’. Islam spread quickly and extensively through Oman and even Muhammad declared his good wishes towards the people of Oman: “God bless the people of Al Ghubairaa (i.e. the people of Oman), as they believed in me without seeing me”.
Traces of Church of the East (also known as Nestorian) arrived in Oman. The diocese of Beth Mazunaye in Oman was active as part of the Fars metropolitan province of the Church of the East. Numerous bishops among them, Yohannan of “Mazun”, Samuel of Mazun, Stephen “of the Mazunaye” were among the signatories of the acts of different synods (Dadisho 424, Ezekiel 576, Dairin 676).
The Iranian empire of the Sasanian ruled over the coast of present day Oman with governors in Sohar and Rustaq.
One of the best known Yemenite migration occured after the bursting of the Ma’rib Dam in present day Yemen and lead to the scattering of the tribes of Lakhm and Azd to remote parts of the Arabian Peninsula. Some of the Azdis settling in the eastern part of Oman, while the Aws and the Khazraj tribes went to Yathrib, known today as Medina in Saudi Arabia.
After several years of moving through the impervious part of Saudi Arabia known with the name Nejd this tribal group settle in Oman. The possible cause was a severe draught that forced the Adnani (and also the Nizar) to stabilize in Oman. Date and modality of this migration are not exactly known.
Roman army under the guidance of Marcus Aelius Gallus, governor of Egypt, tried to invade the southern part of Arabia. Gallus' army was guided by an official of Nabatea (now southern Jordan) who took them to a tortous and difficult path that after two years constricted Gallus to retreat after being defeated by the Sabaeans (occupying modern day Yemen).
This is an important period in which we saw traders using the monsoon winds to sail nonstop from the Arabia and Africa to the shores of India. The first one to accomplish this remarkable result was the Greek navigator Eudoxus of Cyzicus who sailed three times between 117 B.C. And 109 B.C.. The opening of the maritime routes provoked a spread of ports along the coast and a simultaneous decline of the land routes and the cities along them.
The Northern part of Oman (with Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates) is part of the Maka satrapy (province) of the Achaemenid Empire.
Frankincense, an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, has been traded in East and North Africa for more than 5000 years. Harvested in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula (modern day Oman and Yemen), it was an important product used in religious ceremonies and cremations. Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, and Jews through the centuries have been great consumers of this resin. Numerous testimonies proved the importance of this valuable commodity. 1) A mural depicting sacks of frankincense traded from the Land of Punt adorns the walls of the temple of ancient Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut, who died circa 1458 BC. 2) Numerous references of the incense can be found in the Hebrew Bible. 3) The biblical account of three Wise Men gave to the newborn Jesus, gold, frankincense and myrrh. Myrrh was another important resin traded from the south portion of the Arabian peninsula. It was used in cosmetics, perfumes and as medicinal. An example of the importance of Myrrh among Romans is Pliny the Elder who told us of an amount of myrrh corresponding to a one years harvest being burned at the funeral of Nero's wife. Through the words of the great Greek historian Herodotus, we could obtain a clear picture of the southern part of Arabian peninsula in the (roughly) 5th century B.C. “Arabia is the last inhabited land toward the south, and it is the only country which produces frankincense, myrrh, cassia, cinnamon and gum-mastik. All these but myrrh are difficult for the Arabians to get. For the spice-bearing trees are guarded by small winged snakes of varied colour, many around each tree … “ (Histories, Book III Thalia). The Edict of Milan was one of the causes to bring a halt to the trading of myrrh and frankincense. In 313, Emperor Constantine, legitimized Christianity. He converted to the freshly legitimized faith on his deathbed in 327. Hence, simple burials replaced the imposing cremations and funerary displays which had as a epicenter the massive pyres of frankincense.
A process of domestication of dromedary, “camelus dromedarius”, was quite likely started around the third millennium B.C.. The massive advantage arrived between 1500BC and 800BC when people of the Arabian peninsula developed a method of saddling and the animals were transformed not just in a source of meat but in an indespensable means of transport which dramatically improved the trading between the Arabic Peninsula and the Mediterranean.
Dilmun (modern day Bahrain), mentioned throughout the history of Mesopotamia from the 3rd millennium BC onwards, reach the apex in this period eclipsing all the other “nations” facing the Persian gulf. Dilmun was the main trading partner of the people of the present day Oman.
In this era the area of modern day United Arab Emirates and northern Oman saw the thriving of a culture called Umm Al Nar. The name derived from the island which lies adjacent to Abu Dhabi. The trade with Mesopotamia was flourishing and once again the main material was copper. Wadi Jizzi sites, with its copper mines that will support the growth of the port of Sohar, was founded in this period.
From the cuneiform inscriptions on tablets found at Ur, the old Sumerian city in Mesopotamia, scholars have connected the ancient civilization named Magan (or Majan) to Oman. Majan, referred in the past as “The Mountain of Copper”, was the source of Copper for the region between the Tigris ad Euphrates modern day Iraq. Hence in this period we have the first evidence of the seafaring attitude of the modern day Oman. It is roughly in this period that the settlment and graves of Bat have been established.