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Thursday 14th December
Oman Facts
Oman was once one of the richest countries in the world: its wealth came from the trade in incense.

The legendary city of Ubar controlled the Frankincense trade. It is said that Ubar was destroyed, buried beneath the desert because its wealth led the people away from religion.

Frankincense trees only grow in the wild.

A shrub called myrtus communis, or yas, has leaves which are used as perfume.

Sailing ships were built in Oman thousands of years ago, when the country's wealth depended on trade. Sur still produces the traditional dhow.

Coir rope, made from coconut fibres, was used to bind together the timbers of the sailing ships in traditional ship building techniques.

In the highlands there are raised irrigation systems, carrying water from mountain streams, which are over two thousand years old. The Aflaj Irrigation Systems are on the World Heritage List.

Oman is traditionally known for breeding Arab horses.

Bedouin women wear Omani burqa masks to hide their faces from strangers.

A necklace known as hirz is often worn: this piece of jewellery is worn for protective reasons as it has compartments for carrying verses from the Koran.

The tradition of lailat al henna is a female celebration on the eve of a wedding: the bride's hands are decorated with henna patterns which will last for a number of weeks.

Omani men wear the long robes known as dishdashas.

Omani men traditionally wear curved daggers known as khanja. Turbans are also part of the national dress.

After expelling the Portuguese in the seventeenth century, Oman has remained independent.

Oman joined the League of Arab States in 1971.

The national flag of Oman is red, white and green and was adopted in 1971, when the country joined the United Nations.

Tourists were only allowed into Oman at the beginning of the 1990s.

In 1997 women were able to stand for the Consultative Council and vote for representatives.

Voting rights were extended to all citizens over the age of 21 (other than tribal leaders, intellectuals and businessmen) in November 2002.

In June 2007 Cyclone Gonu killed more than fifty people.

In February 2011, at a time of unrest across the Arab world, protesters demanded jobs and political reform.

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