Oman, officially called the Sultanate of Oman, is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the southeast and the Gulf of Oman on the northeast. The Madha and Musandam enclaves are surrounded by the UAE on their land borders, with the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman forming Musandam’s coastal boundaries.
Though formerly under heavy influence from the United Kingdom, Oman was never formally part of the British Empire, or a British protectorate. British influence in the country was strong after the ousting of the Portuguese, who laid claim to Oman in 1507. During this period of Portuguese colonial occupation, Omani forces still controlled most of the interior of the country, whilst the Portuguese only held on to coastal forts. Oman has been ruled by the Al Bu Sa’idi dynasty since 1744 and has long-standing military and political ties with the United States and United Kingdom, although it maintains an independent foreign policy.
In particular, Oman is among the very few Arab countries that have maintained friendly ties with Iran. Wikileaks disclosed US diplomatic cables which have shown that cordial relations between Oman and Iran have borne fruit for the United Kingdom (in helping release British sailors imprisoned by Iran). The same cables also portray the Omani government as wishing to maintain cordial relations with Iran and as having continuously turned down US diplomats requesting Oman to take a sterner stance against Iran. This even led to the UAE allegedly attempting a coup in Oman, which Omani intelligence services uncovered in November–December 2010.
In November 2010, The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) listed Oman as the most-improved nation over the last 40 years from among 135 countries worldwide. According to international indices, Oman is one of the most developed and stable countries in the region.
Oman’s Country Profile at the CIA World Fact Book
Oman’s page on the U.S. Department of Sate Web Site