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Oman-Internal Security Problems





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Oman Index

In the past, internal dynastic rivalries within individual amirates were often sources of tension and even bloodshed. In part, this resulted from the absence of clearly established rules of succession. More recently, however, heirs apparent have usually been designated, most often the eldest son of the amir. Intra-UAE rivalries no longer take a violent form, but the continued existence of independent military forces and competition in acquiring arms bring with them a costly proliferation of weapons that complicates training and logistics.

The threat of subversion from resident Iranians and native Shia seems to be less acute in the UAE than in other gulf states in spite of the large Shia population in Dubayy. Dubayy and Sharjah have traditionally maintained good relations with Iran and enjoyed profits from maritime trade, particularly the transshipment of items officially banned in Iran to conserve foreign exchange. The UAE is not a target of Iranian terrorist attacks.

The provisional constitution authorizes federal police and security guard forces, which are subordinate to the Ministry of Interior. The strength of the police force has not been reported but is estimated as relatively large and vigilant in exercising control over political activities. Individual shaykhs had their own police forces before independence and maintained those forces after unification. Both the federal government and the amirate of Dubayy retain independent internal security organizations. The police forces of the other amirates are also involved in antinarcotic and antiterrorist activities.

Criminal cases are tried either by sharia courts administered by each amirate or by civil courts of the federal system that exist in several amirates. Rights of due process are accorded under both systems. Defendants are entitled to legal counsel. No formal public defender system exists, but the judge has responsibility for looking after the interests of persons not represented by counsel. Under the Criminal Procedures Code adopted in 1992, the accused has the right to defense counsel, provided by the government, if necessary, in cases involving possible sentence of death or life imprisonment. There are no jury trials, but trials are open except in cases involving national security or morals offenses. No separate security courts exist, and military courts try only military personnel in a system based on Western military judicial principles. According to Department of State human rights reports, the criminal court system is generally regarded as fair. Despite the lack of a formal bail system, there are instances of release on deposit of money or passport.

Detentions must be reported to the attorney general within forty-eight hours; the attorney general must decide within twenty-four hours whether to charge, release, or allow further limited detention. Most persons receive expeditious trials, although Iraqis and Palestinians had been held incommunicado in detention for one or two months in 1991. Others were being held in jail because they were unwilling or unable to return to their countries of origin.

Data as of January 1993



BackgroundThe inhabitants of the area of Oman have long prospered on Indian Ocean trade. In the late 18th century, a newly established sultanate in Muscat signed the first in a series of friendship treaties with Britain. Over time, Oman's dependence on British political and military advisors increased, but it never became a British colony. In 1970, QABOOS bin Said al-Said overthrew the restrictive rule of his father; he has ruled as sultan ever since. His extensive modernization program has opened the country to the outside world while preserving the longstanding close ties with the UK. Oman's moderate, independent foreign policy has sought to maintain good relations with all Middle Eastern countries.
LocationMiddle East, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Persian Gulf, between Yemen and UAE
Area(sq km)total: 309,500 sq km
land: 309,500 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Geographic coordinates21 00 N, 57 00 E
Land boundaries(km)total: 1,374 km
border countries: Saudi Arabia 676 km, UAE 410 km, Yemen 288 km

Coastline(km)2,092 km

Climatedry desert; hot, humid along coast; hot, dry interior; strong southwest summer monsoon (May to September) in far south

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Arabian Sea 0 m
highest point: Jabal Shams 2,980 m
Natural resourcespetroleum, copper, asbestos, some marble, limestone, chromium, gypsum, natural gas
Land use(%)arable land: 0.12%
permanent crops: 0.14%
other: 99.74% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)720 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)1 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 1.36 cu km/yr (7%/2%/90%)
per capita: 529 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardssummer winds often raise large sandstorms and dust storms in interior; periodic droughts
Environment - current issuesrising soil salinity; beach pollution from oil spills; limited natural fresh water resources
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - notestrategic location on Musandam Peninsula adjacent to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil
Population3,418,085
note: includes 577,293 non-nationals (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 42.7% (male 744,265/female 714,116)
15-64 years: 54.5% (male 1,079,511/female 783,243)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 55,180/female 41,770) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 18.8 years
male: 21.1 years
female: 16.7 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)3.138% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)34.79 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)3.65 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)0.24 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 72% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.38 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.32 male(s)/female
total population: 1.22 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 16.88 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 19.29 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.35 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 74.16 years
male: 71.87 years
female: 76.55 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)5.53 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Omani(s)
adjective: Omani
Ethnic groups(%)Arab, Baluchi, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi), African

Religions(%)Ibadhi Muslim 75%, other (includes Sunni Muslim, Shia Muslim, Hindu) 25%
Languages(%)Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects

Country nameconventional long form: Sultanate of Oman
conventional short form: Oman
local long form: Saltanat Uman
local short form: Uman
former: Muscat and Oman
Government typemonarchy
Capitalname: Muscat
geographic coordinates: 23 37 N, 58 35 E
time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions5 regions (manatiq, singular - mintaqat) and 4 governorates* (muhafazat, singular - muhafazat) Ad Dakhiliyah, Al Batinah, Al Buraymi*, Al Wusta, Ash Sharqiyah, Az Zahirah, Masqat (Muscat)*, Musandam*, Zufar (Dhofar)*
Constitutionnone; note - on 6 November 1996, Sultan QABOOS issued a royal decree promulgating a basic law considered by the government to be a constitution which, among other things, clarifies the royal succession, provides for a prime minister, bars ministers from holding interests in companies doing business with the government, establishes a bicameral legislature, and guarantees basic civil liberties for Omani citizens

Legal systembased on English common law and Islamic law; ultimate appeal to the monarch; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage21 years of age; universal; note - members of the military and security forces are not allowed to vote
Executive branchchief of state: Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said al-Said (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said al-Said (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the monarch
elections: the monarch is hereditary

Legislative branchbicameral Majlis Oman consists of Majlis al-Dawla or upper chamber (71 seats; members appointed by the monarch; has advisory powers only) and Majlis al-Shura or lower chamber (84 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms; body has only advisory powers)
elections: last held 27 October 2007 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: new candidates won 46 seats and 38 members of the outgoing Majlis kept their positions; none of the 20 female candidates were elected

Judicial branchSupreme Court
note: the nascent civil court system, administered by region, has judges who practice secular and Sharia law

Political pressure groups and leadersnone
International organization participationABEDA, AFESD, AMF, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag descriptionthree horizontal bands of white, red, and green of equal width with a broad, vertical, red band on the hoist side; the national emblem (a khanjar dagger in its sheath superimposed on two crossed swords in scabbards) in white is centered near the top of the vertical band

Economy - overviewOman is a middle-income economy that is heavily dependent on dwindling oil resources, but sustained high oil prices in recent years have helped build Oman's budget and trade surpluses and foreign reserves. As a result of its dwindling oil resources, Oman is actively pursuing a development plan that focuses on diversification, industrialization, and privatization, with the objective of reducing the oil sector's contribution to GDP to 9% by 2020. Some of these projects may be in jeopardy, however, because Muscat overestimated its ability to produce or secure the natural gas needed to power them. Oman actively seeks private foreign investors, especially in the industrial, information technology, tourism, and higher education fields. Industrial development plans focus on gas resources, metal manufacturing, petrochemicals, and international transshipment ports. The drop in oil prices and the global financial crisis in 2008 will affect Oman's fiscal position and it may post a deficit in 2009 if oil prices stay low. In addition, the global credit crisis is slowing the pace of investment and development projects - a trend that probably will continue into 2009.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$66.87 billion (2008 est.)
$62.84 billion (2007 est.)
$59.4 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$59.95 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)6.4% (2008 est.)
5.8% (2007 est.)
7.5% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$20,200 (2008 est.)
$19,600 (2007 est.)
$19,100 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 2.1%
industry: 36.1%
services: 61.8% (2008 est.)
Labor force968,800
note: about 60% of the labor force is non-national (2007)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate(%)15% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)27.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $18.13 billion
expenditures: $15.95 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)12.5% (2008 est.)
5.9% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$5.25 billion (31 December 2008)
$5.044 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$14.57 billion (31 December 2008)
$11.04 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$17.83 billion (31 December 2008)
$13.88 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$14.91 billion (31 December 2008)
$23.06 billion (31 December 2007)
$16.16 billion (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipient$30.68 million (2005)

Public debt(% of GDP)2.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
10.3% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - productsdates, limes, bananas, alfalfa, vegetables; camels, cattle; fish
Industriescrude oil production and refining, natural and liquefied natural gas (LNG) production; construction, cement, copper, steel, chemicals, optic fiber

Industrial production growth rate(%)3.5% (2008 est.)

Current account balance$5.523 billion (2008 est.)
$1.933 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$37.72 billion (2008 est.)
$24.72 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)petroleum, reexports, fish, metals, textiles
Exports - partners(%)China 31.7%, South Korea 17%, UAE 11.7%, Japan 11%, Thailand 7.1% (2008)
Imports$20.71 billion (2008 est.)
$14.34 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, livestock, lubricants
Imports - partners(%)UAE 27.2%, Japan 15.6%, US 5.7%, China 4.6%, India 4.5%, South Korea 4.2%, Germany 4.2% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$11.58 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$9.524 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$7.68 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$5.297 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$NA
Exchange ratesOmani rials (OMR) per US dollar - 0.3845 (2008 est.), 0.3845 (2007), 0.3845 (2006), 0.3845 (2005), 0.3845 (2004)

Currency (code)Omani rial (OMR)

Telephones - main lines in use274,200 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular3.219 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: modern system consisting of open-wire, microwave, and radiotelephone communication stations; limited coaxial cable
domestic: fixed-line phone service gradually being introduced to remote villages using wireless local loop systems; fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership both increasing; open-wire, microwave, radiotelephone communications, and a domestic satellite system with 8 earth stations
international: country code - 968; the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) and the SEA-ME-WE-3 submarine cable provide connectivity to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat (2007)
Internet country code.om
Internet users465,000 (2008)
Airports128 (2009)
Pipelines(km)gas 4,126 km; oil 3,558 km; refined products 263 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 42,300 km
paved: 16,500 km (includes 550 km of expressways)
unpaved: 25,800 km (2005)

Ports and terminalsMina' Qabus, Salalah
Military branchesSultan's Armed Forces (SAF): Royal Army of Oman, Royal Navy of Oman, Royal Air Force of Oman (al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Sultanat) (2009)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18-30 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 802,455
females age 16-49: 626,841 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 675,454
females age 16-49: 563,890 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 35,647
female: 34,407 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)11.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
Disputes - internationalboundary agreement reportedly signed and ratified with UAE in 2003 for entire border, including Oman's Musandam Peninsula and Al Madhah exclave, but details of the alignment have not been made public

Trafficking in personscurrent situation: Oman is a destination country for men and women primarily from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan who migrate willingly, but some of whom become victims of trafficking when subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude as domestic workers and laborers; mistreatment includes non-payment of wages, restrictions on movement and withholding of passports, threats, and physical or sexual abuse; Oman may also be a destination country for women from Asia, Eastern Europe, and North Africa for commercial sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 3 - Oman was rated as Tier 3 for the second consecutive year because it did not report any law enforcement efforts to prosecute and punish trafficking offenses in 2007 and continues to lack victim protection services or a systematic procedure to identify victims of trafficking (2008)
Electricity - production(kWh)13.58 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)11.36 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)761,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)81,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)593,700 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)17,290 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)5.5 billion bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)24 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)13.46 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)10.89 billion cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)849.5 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS1,300 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deathsfewer than 200 (2003 est.)
Literacy(%)definition: NA
total population: 81.4%
male: 86.8%
female: 73.5% (2003 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 11 years (2006)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)4% of GDP (2006)








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