So I am sure by now you all very curious about Oman. I have been doing my best to learn as much as I can in these past few weeks.
- Omanis located in the Persian Gulf, bordering the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. A lot of the landscape is dominated by the expansive desert plains, but just as notable are the Hajar mountains that run a long the northern coast around the capital city of Muscat. On the coast it is humid, but as you move further through the interior, it is a more dry heat. In the summer, the temperature can top 100 degrees, although I’ve been told the heat is no match for the ferocious air conditioning systems (fortunately!).
- Though Sultan Qaboos currently resides as the monarch of Oman, there is a legislative branch as well. The sultan is the longest serving ruler in the Middle East and for good reason. He seems to be a very thoughtful person with genuine concern for the wellbeing of his country. When riots broke out during the Arab spring in 2011 he responded promptly by creating more jobs, increasing the minimum wage, and allowing more parliamentary powers. The sultan appoints members of the upper chamber of the Council of Oman. Themembers of thelower chamber, the Consultative Council, are elected by popular vote.
- When Sultan Qaboos rose to power in 1970, some of his main initiatives included instituting a national healthcare system, improving education, and building the economy. Fifty years ago, Oman had only three schools. Incredibly, already today, there is an over 86% literacy rate. That is no small feat! In 2001, the WHO rated Oman’s health system as 8th in the world. In 1997, women were granted the right to vote and run for office as well.
- A lot of Oman’s industrial boom stemmed from oil reserves and their growing presence in the international market. As oil and gas reserves begin to dwindle, Oman is looking to diversify its economy. Oman has a strong tourism industry, other industrial sectors, and has a small agricultural sector growing dates, limes, grains and vegetables. This summer, if I have more time, I would like to look more into the alternative energy sector as well.