on the south-eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, is bordered on the north by the Gulf
of Oman, on the east and south by the Arabian Sea, on the Southwest by Yemen, on the west
by the Rub al Khali (Empty Quarter) of Saudi Arabia, and on the Northwest by the
United Arab Emirates (UAE). The area of Oman is 212,460 square kilometres (82,031 square
miles), about one-third the size of Somalia.
The climate is generally hot and arid. However, the humidity along the coast is high. The average annual temperature is about 28°C (about 82°F). The average annual rainfall is generally less than 102 millimetres (less than 4 inches).
In ancient times, the Dhofar region was famous for its incense, which was sold throughout the Old World. The unusual climate of Dhofar suited the frankincense tree probably better than anywhere in the world. Three thousand years ago, frankincense was exported by sea, and Dhofar, then called Ophir, was extremely wealthy and renowned. In the early 3rd century AD, an Arab chief from Hira in Mesopotamia founded a kingdom in Oman that retained its independence until the reign of the first caliph, the temporal and spiritual head of Islam. The Omanis accepted Islam in the 7th century and elected their first imam, a leader believed to be a descendant of the prophet Muhammad, around 750. In the 10th century the Qarmatians conquered the country, and it was later occupied by the Seljuks.
TRADITIONAL DRESSFor men, the traditional dress is the dishdasha, the white cotton robe common to most Arabic states. A turban called a shamag, which may be highly ornate for official occasions, is the traditional head-dress worn in non-coastal regions. Traditional dress for women varies substantially from region to region but is most often highly colourful. Most popular is a knee-length tunic worn over trousers. In some areas, women may veil themselves, but in other areas women have never worn the veil.
The judicial system is based on the law of Islam. A chief court and court of appeals are located in Masqaï. A "flying court" system has been established to service rural areas.
Agriculture is dominated by the cultivation of export crops, primarily dates and limes. Some grains and vegetables are grown for local consumption, but most food must be imported. The unit of currency is the Omani rial.
TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONA road-building program was undertaken in the 1970s and 1980s, and most settlements are linked by a network of graded roads. Oman has several ports: Mina Qaboos, which is located in Muscat; Mina Raysut, which has been developed into an all-weather port; and Mina al Fael, which is the leading oil terminal.
Salalah, situated on the Southern Dhofar coast, is the second city of Oman. A warm friendly city thousands of miles away from the troubles of the Northern Middle Eastern areas. The people of Oman are the most friendly, helpful and welcoming of all the Gulf states, and take great pride in this reputation with outside visitors to their country.
Khurìya Murìya Islands or Kuria Muria, island group of Oman, situated about 40 km (25 mi) off the country's south-eastern coast in Kuria and Muria Bay (an inlet of the Arabian Sea). Five islands comprise the group. Al Hallanayah is the largest and only inhabited island. Its few residents support themselves primarily through fishing. Ceded to Great Britain in 1854 by the Sultan of Oman for a station of the Red Sea telegraph cable, the islands were returned to Oman in 1967.
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