By Linda Pappas Funsch
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Extra resources for Oman Reborn: Balancing Tradition and Modernization
The Desert and Its People While Oman boasts more than a thousand miles of coastline, including seasonally lush, tropical regions in the south and dense areas of cultivation in the north, a vast expanse of barren desert lies behind the deep wadiss (water courses) and rugged mountains of the interior. In fact, two-thirds of Oman’s area is arid. Sharing the sultanate’s border with Saudi Arabia and the UAE is the fabled and forbidding Empty Quarter (Rub’ al-Khali), immortalized in Wilfred Thesiger’s dramatic narrative Arabian Sands.
Nevertheless, massive supertankers transport some seventeen million barrels of crude oil per day through the strait, accounting for 30 percent of the oil traded by sea. ” Seafaring and Trade Popular images of the Middle East do not generally include the sea; and while Arabs are perceived, particularly in the West, as a desert people, this image is far from complete. With more than 1,000 miles (3,165 km) of coastline, Oman has a long and illustrious history of seafaring. 7 Even before the dawn of Islam, Oman’s sailors were acknowledged masters of the ocean.
3 European Imperialism The Persians would return to Oman intermittently, well into the eighteenth century, but not before the country was first exploited by the Europeans. Oman’s first brush with European colonization came from Portugal in the early sixteenth century. Following Vasco da Gama’s successful discovery in 1497–1498 of a sea route around the Cape of Good Hope, which connected Europe with the Far East, Portugal became the preeminent maritime power of the day.
Oman Reborn: Balancing Tradition and Modernization by Linda Pappas Funsch