Oman profile

A chronology of key events:

700s AD - Onset of Arab domination and the introduction of Islam.

Sultan Said bin Taiumr at Lord Mayor's Banquet, London, UK

Sultan Said bin Taimur kept Oman in feudal isolation

800s - Ibadiyah Islamic sect begins ruling via a succession of elected and hereditary Ibadite imams.

1507 - Portuguese sack Muscat and capture the Omani coast; they are driven out in 1650.

1800s-1900s - Omani empire expands to include Zanzibar and Mombasa on Africa's east coast and parts of the Indian subcontinent, reflecting Oman's strong maritime heritage.

1737 - Persians invade.

Al Bu Said dynasty

1749 - Persians are driven out. The Al Bu Said dynasty comes to power, and continues to rule to this day.

1913 - Control of the country splits. The interior is ruled by Ibadite imams and the coastal areas by the sultan. Under a British-brokered agreement in 1920 the sultan recognises the autonomy of the interior.

1954 onwards - Clashes resume between imamite forces, seeking an independent state in the interior, and those of the sultan.

1959 - Sultan Said bin Taimur regains control of the interior. His rule is characterised by a feudal and isolationist approach.

1964 - Oil reserves are discovered; extraction begins in 1967.

1965-75 - Rebellion in the southern region of Dhofar in which leftist forces are pitted against government troops. The uprising is finally put down with the help of soldiers from Jordan and Iran.

Coup

1970 - The sultan is overthrown by his son in a bloodless coup. Sultan Qaboos bin Said begins a liberalisation and modernisation programme.

Rise and fall of the Oryx

Oryxes in Oman

Arabian oryx were hunted out in Oman, but reintroduced in 1979

  • 1994 - official sanctuary is set up and added to UNESCO's World Heritage list
  • Population rises to 450 in 1996 but drops to 65 in 2007
  • Park struck off UNESCO list after being opened to oil prospectors

1981 - Oman is a founding member of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.

1997 - Sultan Qaboos decrees that women can stand for election to - and vote for - the majlis al-shura or Consultative Council. Two women are duly elected to the body.

1999 - Oman and neighbouring United Arab Emirates (UAE) sign a border agreement defining most of their disputed common frontier.

2001 October - Large-scale British-Omani military exercises in the Omani desert coincide with the launch of strikes against the Taleban in Afghanistan.

2002 November - Sultan Qaboos extends voting rights to all citizens over the age of 21. Voters were previously chosen from among tribal leaders, intellectuals and businessmen.

2003 October - First elections to the Consultative Council, the majlis al-shura, in which all citizens over the age of 21 can vote. There is little change to the political make-up of the house.

2004 March - Sultan appoints Oman's first female minister with portfolio.

2005 January - Nearly 100 suspected Islamists are arrested; 31 Omanis are subsequently convicted of trying to overthrow the government but are pardoned in June.

Capital: Muscat

Main Street in Old Quarter of Muscat

Muscat reveals Arab, Portuguese and African influences

  • 1508-1650: Controlled by Portuguese
  • Ringed by mountains and overlooked by forts
  • Population (metro area): 540,000

2006 January - Oman and the US sign a free trade deal. The agreement is approved by the US Congress and Senate in June and July.

2007 June - Cyclone Gonu, the strongest storm to hit the Gulf for decades, kills more than 50 people and disrupts oil production.

Oman's Arabian Oryx sanctuary becomes the first site to be removed from UNESCO's World Heritage list after the rare species dwindled and the government cut the park size by 90%.

2009 June - A cargo vessel is hijacked by suspected Somali pirates off Oman - apparently the first such attack in the area.

2011 February - Protesters demand jobs and political reform. One demonstrator is shot dead by police. Sultan Qaboos reacts by promising jobs and benefits.

2011 October - Elections to the Consultative Council, or Majlis al-Shura. which Sultan Qaboos has promised greater powers since the unrest inspired by the Arab Spring.

2012 September - Trials begin of activists accused of posting "abusive and provocative" criticism of the government online, amid reports of a crackdown on protests over unemployment and lack of democracy. Six are given jail terms of 12-18 months and fines of about $2,500 each.

2013 March - Sultan Qaboos pardons around 30 people, including online activists and protesters.

2014 May - Former Omani commerce minister Mohammed al-Khusaibi sentenced to three years in prison for corruption.

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