COUNTRYAAH, Oman has built up a mixed economy with elements of both
private and public companies. The economy, which has grown
rapidly but unevenly since the 1960s, is heavily dependent
on oil exports, but in recent years efforts have been made
to modernize and diversify the economy. In 2015, oil exports
accounted for just over 40 percent of the country's export
revenue. However, fluctuating oil prices lead to large
fluctuations in oil revenues.
Less than 1 percent of the country's area is cultivated.
Lack of water and highly variable rainfall make farming
unsafe, and irrigation is necessary. The most important
crops are fruits, vegetables and wheat. Half of the
cultivated area is covered by date palms. Self-catering
agriculture dominates. Fishing is mainly conducted as
The first discovery of oil in Oman was not made until
1964. Commercial production started in 1967. Since 1974, the
state owns 60 percent of the shares in the oil company
Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), the rest is owned by
foreign companies. In addition, there are two other oil
companies in Oman. Oil harbor with refinery can be found in
Mina al-Fahl near Muskat. The country is not a member of
OPEC and is therefore not formally bound by any production
In addition to oil, significant discoveries of natural
gas, copper and chromium have been made. A copper smelter
was started in Sohar in 1983.
Before oil was discovered, the Oman industry was limited
to small-scale, traditional crafts. Oil revenues have led to
an upswing for the construction industry, and a cement plant
was inaugurated in 1984 in Rusayl (however, construction
activity has occasionally been down as a result of
fluctuations in oil revenues). In addition, copper,
artificial fertilizers, aluminum products, car batteries,
glass and household goods are manufactured. With limited oil
reserves and labor shortages, Oman has little opportunity to
develop heavy or large-scale industry. The state prioritises
investments in agriculture and fishing as well as
small-scale, private industries. Oman's economic and
industrial development has led to a strong increase in
demand for water and electricity. A number of oil and
gas-fired power plants and desalination plants for seawater
have been built.
Foreign trade is dominated by oil and natural gas.
Imports mainly comprise machinery, transport and food. The
most important exporting countries are China, the United
Arab Emirates and Japan. Imports come mainly from the United
Arab Emirates, Japan and India. Oman has a positive trade
balance, but the country has been forced to borrow abroad to
finance its development projects.
Tourism and gastronomy
In 1985, Oman was opened for tourism. The country has
good conditions for tourism with a modern and paved road
network as well as excellent hotels, which has led to a
growing group tourism. In 2010, the country was visited by
about 1 million visitors.
Oman is an interesting country for the visitor, not least
because of its openness to Indian and East African culture.
One can be fascinated by the dramatic rock landscape in
contrast to the inland oases or low-lying sandy beaches on
The traditionally cosmopolitan character is best
experienced in Muscat. The port is guarded by two Portuguese
forts, but the old settlement has been preserved only in the
area closest to the sea. In one of the older houses is the
National Museum, whose collections highlight the country's
The Omani craft can also be studied in other parts of the
country: Nazwa, with interesting old fort and cityscape, is
famous for jewelery work, in the city of Sur, dhows are
built according to old methods. The large traditional market
in Matrah is the country's most interesting.
Salala in the south with miles of sandy beaches differs
from the rest of the country by its monsoon climate, which
provides a more even temperature, summer rain and abundant
Rice, dates, goat and camel meat are the standard food in
Oman. However, the food is enriched by the fruits and
vegetables (lime, melon, mango) that can grow in the more
fertile southern part. True to the import of frozen foods,
the main focus is still on traditional dishes of rice,
wheat, nuts and dates, which are often ground and mixed with
goat meat and deep-fried.
The contacts with India are evident in the cooking:
strong and rich spice, lots of vegetables and lentils. On
the coast, fresh fish is included in the diet.