The inhabitants of the
area of Oman have long prospered on Indian Ocean trade. In the late
18th century, a newly established sultanate in Muscat signed the first
in a series of friendship treaties with Britain. Over time, Oman's
dependence on British political and military advisors increased, but it
never became a British colony. In 1970, Qaboos bin Said al-Said
overthrew the restrictive rule of the sultan, and has ruled as sultan
himself ever since. His extensive modernization program has opened the
country to the outside world while preserving the longstanding close
ties with the UK. Oman's moderate, independent foreign policy has
sought to maintain good relations with all Middle Eastern countries.
Arabic is the official language; English
Baluchi, Urdu, and Indian dialects are also spoken.