The oldest independent state in the Arab world, Oman is one of the more traditional countries in the Gulf region and was, until the 1970s, one of the most isolated.
It is strategically placed at the mouth of the Gulf at south-east corner of the Arabian Peninsula and, in the 19th century, vied with Portugal and Britain for influence in the Gulf and Indian Ocean.
The country has so far been spared the militant Islamist violence that has plagued some of its neighbours.
Oman has not been immune from the groundswell of political dissent in the region, however. Protests in 2011 demanding reforms were dispersed by riot police, and the government began a crackdown on internet criticism the following year.
if you are a tourist whose numbers the country wants to increase on its sparkling beaches, glamorous hotels and at remote sites for off-road driving and ancient water holes where ancient forts, castles and towers are being meticulously restored across a diverse terrain of mountains, deserts and jagged coastlines.
It is the badly-needed approximately 1.6 million expatriates living in this country of fewer than 3 million people whom the Omani government would like to go home. But they are crucial to the country’s functioning. In both instances the government believes that the increase in the foreign tourists and the decrease in foreign workers would result in major gains for the economy and the long-term stability of the country.