Oman officially the Sultanate of Oman, is an Arab country in the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Holding a strategically important position at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the nation is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest, and shares marine borders with Iran and Pakistan. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the southeast and the Gulf of Oman on the northeast.
By 2014, Oman's population exceeded 4 million, with 2.23 million Omani nationals and 1.76 million expatriates. 43% of the population is under the age of 15. Nearly 50% of the population lives in Muscat and the Batinah coastal plain northwest of the capital.
Outwardly, Oman shares many of the cultural characteristics of its Arab neighbours, particularly those in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Despite these similarities, important factors make Oman unique in the Middle East. These result as much from geography and history as from culture and economics. Sufficient cultural heterogeneity exists within its national boundaries to make Oman distinct from other Arab States of the Persian Gulf. Oman's cultural diversity is greater than that of its Arab neighbours, given its historical expansion to the Swahili Coast and the Indian Ocean.
Oman has a long tradition of shipbuilding, as maritime travel played a major role in the Omanis' ability to stay in contact with the civilisations of the ancient world. Sur was one of the most famous shipbuilding cities of the Indian Ocean.
Oman's great Islamic religious leader, whose followers are called Ibadhis, was 'Abdallah bin Ibad (fl.8th century); many of his teachings are still followed in Oman. Ahmad ibn Sa'id (r.1741–83), founder of the present dynasty, freed Muscat from Persian rule. Sultan Qabus bin Sa'id (b.1940) has ruled Oman since his removal of Sa'id bin Taymur (1910–72), his father, in 1970.
CAPITAL: Muscat (Masqat)
FLAG: The flag is red with a broad stripe of white at the upper fly and green at the lower fly. In the upper left corner, white crossed swords overlay a ceremonial dagger.
ANTHEM: Nashid as-Salaam as-Sutani (Sultan's National Anthem).
MONETARY UNIT: The Omani Rial (OMR), established in November 1972, is a paper currency of 1,000 baizas. There are coins of 5, 10, 25, 50 baizas and notes of 100 and 500 baizas, and 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 Rials.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system was adopted on 15 November 1974. The imperial and local system also are used.
HOLIDAYS: Accession of the Sultan, 23 July; National Day, 18 November; Sultan's Birthday, 19 November. Movable Muslim religious holidays include 'Id al-Fitr, 'Id al-'Adha', and Milad an-Nabi.
TIME: 4 pm = noon GMT. Solar time also is observed.