A state of Asia, overlooking the eastern coasts of the Arabian Peninsula, and wet for a long strip of land by the waters of the Arabian Sea, which have not yet flowed into the nearby Indian Ocean, Oman goes to the mainland as far as the heart of the United Arab Emirates, within whose borders there are two territories subject to its jurisdiction: Madha, a tiny agglomeration of houses, and the Musandam peninsula, the extreme northern enclave that dominates the Strait of Hormuz. In addition to the colonial past, the mixture of tradition and modernity, the discovery of oil fields and a recently acquired widespread wealth, Oman shares with its neighboring Arab states a part of what is called the “Empty Fourth”: the south-eastern section of ‘ Ar-Rub’ al-Khālī, the desert which occupies almost a quarter of the entire Arabian Peninsula and which influences the morphology, climate and organization of the settlements. Famous in ancient times for the production and trade of incense, Oman went through several centuries of isolation before embracing the Islamic faith, undergoing Portuguese domination, interested in the country’s position in trade routes, and flourishing again under the dynasty of the Ya ‘aruba, first, and then the sultanate of Said bin Sultan (in the mid-nineteenth century). Under his leadership, in fact, the country quickly reached imperial dimensions and prestige, up to the point of controlling some African territories on the east coast and the island of Zanzibar. However, the successive transitions of power failed to cope with the deep internal ethnic and political divisions, at the same time underlining how much the abandonment of traditional practices and the opening towards modernity was a process that was only partially completed. At the end of the twentieth century, the rise to power of Qabus ibn Saʽīd, which has reigned in Oman for almost forty years, has finally marked the beginning of the rebirth, thanks to which the country has gradually emerged from the isolation and backwardness that had characterized it for most of the century. Economic modernization, infrastructural investments, enhancement of professional training, dissemination of education, cultural growth are just some of the interventions that have characterized the enlightened administration of the government. Balanced between the preservation of tradition and the rich cultural past and the flattery exercised by the potential of a thriving economy and an advanced society, Oman therefore lives a condition of social and political stability, albeit in a context not yet marked. from a full democratization,
According to localtimezone, the population is made up mostly of Arabs, but there are also many Indians, Pakistanis and Iranians of ancient immigration, who have come here to organize flourishing businesses and today represent a privileged social caste. There are also many black Africans, brought in as slaves and of which Oman was for a long time an important market. There is also a small minority of Egyptians. In the eighties of the twentieth century, faced with the massive presence of workers from other countries, especially Asian, the authorities passed laws to promote employment among Omani citizens. In the interior of the country there are rather small groups of nomads or semi-nomads, dedicated to livestock, who mostly move seasonally from the desert to the foothills. Most Omani is however, sedentary and lives in major urban centers, in oases or agricultural villages. The average population density is very low, 9 residents / km², due to the difficult climatic conditions. However, the population is divided in different ways: in fact the residents are concentrated above all in the Masqaţ and, in particular, in the coastal strip, where all the major centers such as As-Sīb arise, Maṭraḥ, Bawshar, Ṣuḥār and Muscat. The capital was the seat of a real maritime empire largely based on the slave trade of East Africa; still today it is dominated by ancient towers and fortresses, on the rocky peaks that crown the port. Other active centers are Ṣūr and, in Dhufar, Ṣalālah; among the major oases of the interior is that of Nazwá, located on the southern slopes of Al-Jabal Al Akhḍar and whose residents are mainly dedicated to textile activities and metalworking.
With the exception of oases, to which a precious system of underground channels supplies irrigation water, the vegetation is reduced to a thin mantle of grasses. which yields to the desert expanses of Ar-Rub ‘al-Khālī; on the sides of the mountains most exposed to humid air masses there are green meadows and wooded patches. The Omani government has been committed for years to the protection of water resources, which are severely limited and threatened by saline infiltrations, and to the conservation of the natural heritage, considering the presence on the territory of species at risk of extinction and the dangers of pollution due to oil spills, especially on the coasts. A national park (Al Saleel, in the Ash Sharqīyah region), two nature reserves (Jebel Samhan, in the southern area of the country, and Dimaaniyat Islands, near Muscat, a reserve on the coasts of Dhufar (Khawrs) and one for turtles (Ra’s al Hadd) constitute the protected areas, which cover the 8, oryx and Arabian leopard, goat, camel, gazelle, wolf, wild cat; marine animals and sedentary and migratory birds, such as the ibis, the vulture, the cormorant, the stork, the flamingo and the falcon. To these protected sites we must add the Oasis of the Arabian oryx, a peculiar desert ecosystem that also hosts endemic plants and other animal species, a UNESCO heritage since 1994 then eliminated from the list due to the government’s decision to reduce it by 90% the area.