History , Geography & Geology
Relics & legends
Venturing further back into history, sites such as Sumhuram and Ubar – thought by many to be the famed Atlantis of the Sands – beckon visitors with their echoes of an ancient way of life.
Of course, modern Omani culture still carries many of the traditions of bygone eras. It remained effectively underdeveloped until 1970, when His Majesty Sultan Qaboos ascended to the throne and began what many called the “Blessed Renaissance”.
Oman is often referred to as the ‘true Arabia’ because its ancient culture has been so beautifully preserved. Here, you’ll still find souks selling silver and frankincense, cattle and pottery, in the same way as has been customary for thousands of years.
The Omani people themselves also have a well-deserved reputation for being amongst the world’s most hospitable. Their smiling faces testify to their eagerness to share their unique culture with visitors, and most travellers to Oman will have at least one story of remarkable local hospitality.
It is this warm, peaceful culture that has created a society that consistently ranks Oman highly on the annual Global Peace Index, as well as being named the world’s 9th safest tourism destination by the World Economic Forum in 2015.
Recent archaeological discoveries suggest that humans settled in Oman during the Stone Age, more than 10,000 years ago.
Geography of Oman
The Sultanate of Oman, with an area of 309,500 square kms, encompasses a diverse range of topography, including mountain ranges, arid deserts and fertile plains. It shares borders with the Republic of Yemen to the southwest, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the west and the United Arab Emirates to the north and can lay claim to a number of small islands in the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz, including those known as “Salamah and Her Daughters”, and in the Arabian Sea, Masirah and the Hallaniyat islands.
Oman lies on the Tropic of Cancer in the extreme southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula, covering an area (between latitude 16.40 and 26.20 degrees north and longitude 51.50 and 59.40 degrees east), of major strategic importance.
The country’s breathtaking coastline stretches for over 1,700 kms, from the Arabian Sea and the entrance to the Indian Ocean at its south-western extremity, to the Gulf of Oman and Musandam in the north, where it overlooks the Strait of Hormuz and the entrance to the Arabian Gulf; a location that has played a vital part in Oman’s strategic development
The Hajar mountain range, which the Omanis compare to a human backbone, forms a great arc extending from the north-west of the country towards the south-east. Their highest peak, Jabal Shams, in the Jabal al Akhdhar area of the Dakhiliyah region, reaches an altitude of 3,000 metres. In Musandam, where the Strait of Hormuz lies between the Omani and Iranian coasts, the mountains soar to a height of 1,800 metres above sea level.
Oman’s varied and spectacular landscapes are a blend of its geological history and its climate over the past few million years. Superb rock outcrops in the Al Hajar Mountains, the Huqf and Dhofar are a paradise for international geologists. The rock record spans about 825 million years and includes at least three periods when the country was covered by ice, somewhat surprising given its present latitude and climate.
Oman, located at the southeast corner of the Arabian plate, is being pushed slowly northward, as the Red Sea grows wider. The lofty Al Hajar Mountains and the drowned valleys of Musandam are dramatic reminders of this.
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