With whale-watching being the fastest-growing tourist activity worldwide, you may be keen to catch a glimpse of some for yourself. Here are some of the best destinations to do so.Read more...
Oman - At a glance
Location Southeastern edge of Arabian Peninsula at 21°N, 57°E
Neighbouring countries United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
Size 309,500km² approx
Population 4.28 million (Oman National Centre for Statistics and Information, 2015)
Life expectancy Male: 74; female: 79 (WHO, 2013)
Capital Muscat Capital Area; population 1,274,159 (Oman National Centre for Statistics and Information, 2015)
Other main towns Salalah, Suhar, As Suwayq, Ibri, Barka, Nizwa, Ar Rustaq, Sur
Ports Mina Sultan Qaboos, Salalah, Ad Duqm, Suhar
Climate Predominantly arid, with regional variations. Summer (April–September) finds northern coastal regions hot and humid with the interior hot and dry (average 40°C) and southern coastal areas humid and warm; winter (October–March) is warm and dry throughout, with high mountains in northern areas becoming cold, sometimes with snow. Rainfall is rare and irregular but can be intense.
Sultan and head of state Qaboos bin Said (from 1970)
Ethnic divisions Arab, Baluchi, south Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi) and Zanzibari
Languages Arabic (official), English (widely spoken), Mahari, Shahri, Baluchi, Urdu, Swahili, Hindi, Indian dialects. German and French spoken in larger hotels.
Religion Predominantly Muslim: Sunni (50%), Ibadhi (45%), Shi’a (2%); other 3% (mainly Hindu, Christian and Buddhist). Figures related to the population breakdown by religion are not gathered by the Oman government, so these figures are interpretative.
Chief exports Oil, liquid natural gas, organic chemicals, steel, aluminium, fertiliser, textiles and garments
GDP US$81.80 billion GDP at market prices (World Bank, 2014)
Currency Omani rial (OMR/RO); for up-to-date rates, go to www.xe.com
National airlines Oman Air
International telephone code +968
Internet domain .om
Electrical voltage 220–240v AC; British three-pin plugs widely used
Flag Three equal horizontal bands of white, red and green 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 centred at the top of the vertical band.
National emblem The khanjar (a silver-sheathed curved dagger)
National holidays Non-religious: National Day (offi cially 18 November but variable), Renaissance Day (offi cially 23 July but variable); religious (dates alter each year according to the Islamic Lunar Calendar): Eid Al Fitr (at the end of Ramadhan), Eid Al Adha (during the Hajj), Mawlid Al Nabi (Prophet’s birthday), Muharram (Islamic New Year).