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Oman Population - History

Oman Population - History


Most Omanis are Arabs, although numerous citizens of non-Arab of African origin. Oman's foreign community includes: Egyptians, Pakistanis, Indians, and others.



country comparison to the world: 134
note: includes 577,293 non-nationals (July 2009 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 42.7% (male 744,265/female 714,116)
15-64 years: 54.5% (male 1,079,511/female 783,243)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 55,180/female 41,770) (2009 est.)

Median age:

total: 18.8 years
male: 21.1 years
female: 16.7 years (2009 est.)

Population growth rate:

3.138% (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 10

Birth rate:

34.79 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 37

Death rate:

3.65 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 212

Net migration rate:

0.24 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 73


urban population: 72% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.38 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.32 male(s)/female
total population: 1.22 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 16.88 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 119
male: 19.29 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.35 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 74.16 years
country comparison to the world: 91
male: 71.87 years
female: 76.55 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate:

5.53 children born/woman (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 17

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.1% (2001 est.)

country comparison to the world: 148

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

1,300 (2001 est.)

country comparison to the world: 141

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

fewer than 200 (2003 est.)

country comparison to the world: 107


noun: Omani(s)
adjective: Omani

Ethnic groups:

Arab, Baluchi, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi), African


Ibadhi Muslim 75%, other (includes Sunni Muslim, Shia Muslim, Hindu) 25%


Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects


definition: NA
total population: 81.4%
male: 86.8%
female: 73.5% (2003 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 11 years (2006)

Education expenditures:

4% of GDP (2006)

country comparison to the world: 103


The Past and Future of Tribes in Oman

Tribesmen sing a traditional Omani song. Photo Ron Dev/Flickr

Since Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id came to power after the overthrow of his father in 1970, and the establishment of what can be described as the rule of law and institutions, the Sultanate of Oman has limited the presence of the tribe in political life, but it has been unable to eliminate it completely. Instead, the state has kept the tribal element on the shelf and used it only when necessary. This is because Omani policymakers, who are themselves tribesmen, did not want to end the role of tribes in social institutions and a network of relationships and cultural values ​, no matter how much these policymakers claimed to be modern.

So, can the tribe coexist with the modern civil state in Oman? The general theoretical answer to this question is no. The modern civil state cancels out the tribe and incorporates tribal affiliations, tendencies and terms of reference into that of the state and citizenship.

However, the practice is less simple, especially when the modern state does not address political, economic and social requirements, most prominent of which are the enforcement of the Constitution, political participation and the separation of powers. In this case, the absence of the state of citizenship, as in the case of Oman and many other Arab countries, the tribe remains the key to affiliations, tendencies and identities that existed well before the establishment of the state. At the same time, the tribe poses a threat to the existence and unity of the modern state and its modest achievements, as evidenced by the situation in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

However, the relationship between the tribe and the state raises questions as to how genuinely civil and modern Arab states are, and to what extent these states in their current national forms can play the role of the custodian of all citizens. Oman is no exception, and perhaps it demonstrates one of the most prominent examples of unity between the tribe and the state.

Although the state has institutions and bodies dominating the various segments of society, the tribe has a role and a presence, although it has been limited in the past 20 years. Tribes in the Arab world have contributed to the formation of the general features of the state and to shaping the future of its alliances, but this contribution is not necessarily a positive one.

Tribes and the birth of the state

Historically, Oman is rooted in the al-Azad tribe, which fled Yemen along with its leader Malik bin Fahm to escape the al-Aram flood and the collapse of Ma’rib Dam in 532 AD. According to numerous accounts, people of several civilizations lived in Oman at that time, including Arabs, Phoenicians, Chaldeans, Sabaeans and Persians. However, the Persians dominated and governed parts of the country, especially the cities overlooking the Arabian Gulf.

History tells us that Bin Fahm consulted with Arab Omanis who lived in what was known as al-Jawf – a reference to the areas surrounded by mountains, known today as Nizwa and Bahla – on fighting the Persians, liberating areas that the Persians had occupied and establishing a purely Arab state. And so a war, known as the battle of Salott, erupted between the two sides. The al-Azad tribe led by Bin Fahm conquered the Persians led by Marzban, the king of Oman at the time. After Bin Fahm and his allies gained control, other Arab tribes relocated to Oman and settled there. However, the Omanis continue to view the al-Azad as the mother of the tribes from which several other tribes and clans branched out and eventually established their own areas of influence in Oman. These later became like states within a state, with their own rulers and networks of political and economic alliances.

With the emergence of Islam, the Tayy tribe led Oman’s conversion, paving the way for the religion to spread peacefully across the country. The tribe had played an important political role in the establishment of the Omani state, and it had now played another significant role in the peaceful conversion to Islam. This contrasted with the many peoples and nations that resisted the message of Islam and only converted by the sword.

The tribe’s political role in the modern age

A look at Oman’s political history over the past 1,500 years makes it apparent that the tribe is the incubator of the state, not the other way around, and that Oman, throughout its different stages of development, has been strongly connected with the ruling tribe. Over the centuries, Oman has been ruled by a number of tribes, including the Alyahmad, Bani-Kharus, al-Nabhanah, al- Ya’aribah, al-Khalili, and, since 1744, al-Bu Sa’id.

It can be said that the state of Oman, born of the tribe, continues to be cradled by the tribe, but that the relationship between the state and the tribe has experienced many changes, especially during the last 200 years as other players, notably international powers, have influenced that relationship.

A thorough reading of the development of the state of Oman within the structure of the tribe and the various alliances, reveals that the positive aspects of the relationship between the two are almost equal to the negative aspects. There are several reasons for this. If the tribe as the incubator of the state helped the latter – through the ruling tribe – to form alliances with other tribes and achieve a level of national unity, this has made Oman a state of tribal elites, not citizens. Therefore, when tribal leaders share state institutions, citizens become mere nationals and followers. When there is a high level of understanding between the leaders of tribes and clans, stability, economic growth and security can be achieved.

Conversely, when these leaders are in disagreement, state and society become vulnerable to conflict, unrest and wars. The history of Oman can be divided into stages that prove this argument.

First stage: the al-Nabahinah tribe (1183-1617)

At the beginning of its rule, the al-Nabahinah tribe managed to build a political system and defensive fortifications to protect the country from a series of Persian invasions, the most important of which was led by Prince Mahmoud bin Ahmed al-Kouchi of Hormuz in 1261. However, the power struggle between the leaders of the tribe, who were also leaders of the state, weakened the state and its ability to repel successive Persian attacks. In 1461, the Hormuz King Fakhruddin Turan Shah successfully occupied Oman and exiled its ruler Suleiman bin Muzaffar bin Suleiman al-Nabhani to the Ahsa region. According to historical sources, one of the main disadvantages of the tribe’s control of the political system was that power was limited exclusively to tribal members. Apart from the advisory role of some religious scholars, the people of Oman remained excluded from any political participation, and the power struggle of brothers and sons within the al-Nabahinah tribe helped to weaken Oman.

Numerous history books suggest that Oman descended into civil war as a result of conflicts between the sons of Sultan Muzaffar bin Sulaiman al-Nabhani. Besides, corruption among political decision-makers and the preoccupation of the tribal rulers with accumulating wealth contributed to the isolation of the ruling tribe from the remaining tribes, weakening the tribe’s ability to protect the homeland against foreign military ambitions. Foreign interference in the 15th and 16th centuries was stronger than before, especially with the Persian invasion, followed by the Ottomans and then the Portuguese.

One of the main disadvantages of the al-Nabahinah was its lack of interest in establishing a political system and governance institutions similar to those established by the two tribes that succeeded it. The al-Nabahinah had revelled in the glory of power without paying sufficient attention to politics and history. Therefore, although long, the tribe’s rule was not stable, mainly due to a series of foreign invasions and the monopoly of power by other tribes in a number of regions.

Second stage: the al-Ya’aribah tribe (1624-1749)

The al-Ya’aribah tribe laid the foundation of its rule by unifying Oman’s tribes under the banner of the young Nasir bin Murshid al-Ya’rubi. Abadi clerics, who were at odds with the al-Nabahinah tribe, were instrumental in this unification and in declaring al-Ya’rubi Oman’s new ruler. Unlike his predecessors, al-Ya’rubi established a system of governance based on partnership with other tribes, created a robust judicial institution, built a strong national army and, by the end of 1652, had expelled the Portuguese and begun to construct the state’s first fleet, paving the way for the rise of the Omani empire that included areas of Persia and eastern Africa. He later established Omani rule in Zanzibar, which lasted until 1965.

Third stage: the al-Bu Saíd tribe

The rule of this tribe began with the swearing of allegiance to founder Ahmad bin Sa’id in 1744 and continues to this day under Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id. The al-Bu Sa’id tribe had inherited many achievements from the al-Ya’aribah tribe, the most prominent of which was a state with a strong presence in the international arena, political influence, a powerful naval force and a clearly defined ruling system. At the same time, the tribe had also inherited internal disintegration and conflicts as a result of wars that had broken out at the end of the al-Ya’aribah era and the return of the Persians to parts of Oman, particularly along the coast. Al-Bu Sa’id thus had to work hard to unite the tribes, maintain control, strengthen the reach and dominion of his own tribe, and liberate Oman from the Persians.

Bin Sa’id succeeded in reuniting the tribes and liberating the country, heralding the start of a new era of tribal influence. The tribe played a key role in consolidating the status of Muscat as the national capital following centuries of multiple capitals. However, the tribe’s main political achievement was its ability to preserve the cohesion of the Omani empire in both its Arab and African parts. This was particularly the case when Sa’id bin Sultan came to power in 1807. He made Zanzibar the African capital of the sultanate while keeping Muscat as the Arab capital, at the same time establishing an economic system that led to prosperity. However, the political status of the al-Bu Sa’id tribe declined significantly after Bin Sultan’s death in 1856. And the dispute between his two sons Thuwaini and Majid over who would succeed him paved the way for the disintegration of the Omani empire when Majid decided unilaterally to rule Zanzibar while his brother Thuwaini ruled Oman. This rift was exacerbated when Oman came under the direct control of Great Britain and was only healed when Qaboos bin Sa’id seized power from his father Sa’id bin Taymur in 1970. This marked a new era for the al-Bu Sa’id tribe and an intelligent handling of the institution of the tribe as a whole by limiting the role of the ruling tribe and reducing the influence of its members in running the affairs of state and community. Moreover, the al-Bu Sa’id tribe managed to achieve and maintain national unity despite periods of unrest, especially in the first half of the 20th century and during the tribal uprising of 1913.

In 1996, for the first time in Oman’s history, a written constitution, ‘the Statute of the State’, was drafted, marking a significant decline in the political role of the tribe. In 2011, following the popular protests that local writers and activists described as the Omani version of the Arab Spring, the state made further legislative amendments granting the Council of Oman (consisting of the elected Shura Council and the appointed State Council) monitoring powers, a move that aimed to curb the dominance of the ruling tribe and other tribes allied to it on the political and economic fronts.

However, despite marginalizing and limiting the political role of the tribe in Oman over the past 20 years in favour of state institutions, the tribe may still restore its position following any changes in the country’s leadership. This, of course, depends on the next sultan and how he decides to consolidate his power. It also depends on any structural legislative reforms that the current sultan may make to pave the way for the establishment of a constitutional sultanate where the tribe has only cultural and symbolic significance and a folkloric presence.


More than half of Oman’s population is Arab. However, large numbers of ethnic Baloch—who migrated to Oman from Iran and Pakistan over the past several centuries—live near the coast in Al-Bāṭinah. The Muscat-Maṭraḥ urban area has long been home to significant numbers of ethnic Persians and to merchants of South Asian ancestry, some of whom also live along Al-Bāṭinah. Notable among the latter are the Liwātiyyah, who originally came from Sindh (now in Pakistan) but have lived in Oman for centuries.

Several large Arab groups predominate along Dhofar’s coastal plain. The inhabitants of the Dhofar mountains are known as jibālīs, or “people of the mountains.” They are ethnically distinct from the coastal Arabs and are thought to be descendants of people from the Yemen highlands.

Oman: Population by nationality (Omani/ non-Omani) (2000-2019)

Period of reference: mid-year, except census years 2003, 2010.

Source of the data: censuses, data on vital statistics (births and deaths) produced by the Ministry of Health (MOH),
and data provided by the Royal Oman Police (ROP) on Omani and non-Omani residents.

1- Censuses held in 1993 2003 and 2010
Censuses’ reference periods: 1993: n.a. 2003: 7-8 December 2010: 12-13 December.
2- National Registration System (2011- )
The civil registration records all Omani and expatriate residents. It is based on the civil status system and is maintained
by the General Directorate of Civil Status, a part of the Royal Oman Police.
Since 2004, registration of all vital events taking place in the Sultanate (births, death, marriages and divorces) in the civil register
is mandatory for Omanis and foreign residents of the Sultanate.

Characteristics of data:
Figures refer to 1. Omanis holding an official valid document registered in the National Registration System, or expired for less than ten years
2. Foreign residents holding valid visas, or visas expired for lesss than two years dependents holding valid visas, providing that they are in the country.
Residence visa for expatriates includes residence visa for a wife of an Omani, student resident, multiple entry visa, employment visa,
employment contracting visa, official visit visa, investor visa. The dependent visa includes Family Reunion visas and relat​ive/ friend visit visa.

2. Institution which provides data

National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI)

3. Data availability

Figures for 2000 to 2018 were uploaded from NCSI Oman Data portal:
Figures for 30 June 2019: NCSI’s homepage, population clock:

Date of access: September 2019.

In case the links to the primary data source are broken, please refer to the new Ministry of Manpower website until the links are restored.

Rumours and Legends [ edit | edit source ]

  • It was thought that both King Derid of the Ffolk and Jarl Rault of Norland would pay handsomely to reclaim Oman for their respective peoples, but the giants of Oman attacked every boat that approached within a stone's throw of the island.
  • The cairn of Iron King Thelgarr Ironhand was said to hold riches and powerful magic and that it had remained undisturbed by the giants occupying Oman, but that it was also well-protected by the bound spirits of animals as well as more mundane traps.
  • Rich seams of gold and iron, as well as the pristine woodlands of Oman were a primary motivator for the re-taking of the island.


The population development in Al-Wusṭa as well as related information and services (Wikipedia, Google, images).

The icon links to further information about a selected division including its population structure (gender, age groups, age distribution, nationality).

Al-Wusṭa [ Al Wusta ]Governorate الوسطى 23,30742,11152,344
Ad-Duqm District الدقم 4,26911,21719,221
Al-Jāzer District الجازر 5,8207,9335,645
Haymā [ Haima ]District هيما 3,20710,47310,093
Maḥūt [ Mahout ]District محوت 10,01112,48817,385
ʻUmān [ Oman ]Sultanate عمان‎ 2,340,8152,773,4794,617,927

Source: Sultanate of Oman, National Centre for Statistics and Information (web).

Explanation: The 2020 census was organized as an electronic census.

Oman has four UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Oman has four sites that were declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They include: Bahla Fort, the Archeological Sites of Bat, Al Khutm and Al Ayn, the exceptional irrigation systems of Al Aflaj around the country, and the Land of Frankincense (referring to a splendid area in the Dhofar region in southern Oman, which has Wadi Dawkah, the caravan oasis of Shisr/Wubar, and the ports of Khor Rori and Al-Baleed). This area represent the place where the ancient frankincense trade took place in Oman.

Baloch People In Different Countries


Pakistan is a country in South Asia, and it hosts a Baloch population of about 6,800,000. Balochistan is considered as the largest population with the highest poverty rate, illiteracy, infant mortality rate, and maternal mortality rate in the country this is because most of the population lack adequate amenities, leaving the region underdeveloped. There are numerous languages spoken by Balochi people in Pakistan. Balochi is the most spoken language of Balochistan constituting 54.8%, followed by Pashto, Sindhi, Punjabi, Saraiki, Urdu, English, and others. The Balochi people in Pakistan have different religions whereby the majority of them are Muslims comprising of 98.75% followed by Hindus and Christians. Other religions include Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism.


Iran is a country in Western Asia comprising of about 2,000,000 Iranian Balochi population who majorly reside in the Sistan and Baluchestan provinces. Balochi people in Iran occupy the region considered as the poorest and most underdeveloped region of the country. Iranian Balochis mainly speak Rakhshani Balochi and Persian. A large number of them are Muslims the majority belong to Sunni Islam and minority belongs to Shia Islam.

United Arab Emirates

The population of Baloch in the United Arab Emirates is about 468,000, which is 5.08% of the UAE’s population. Dubai, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi are the regions with significant Baloch populations. The majority of UAE’s Baloch people speak Balochi. Other languages that some of them speak include Arabic, Persian, Sindhi, and Saraiki.


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Baloch, also spelled Baluch or Beluch, group of tribes speaking the Balochi language and estimated at about five million inhabitants in the province of Balochistān in Pakistan and also neighbouring areas of Iran and Afghanistan. In Pakistan the Baloch people are divided into two groups, the Sulaimani and the Makrani, separated from each other by a compact block of Brahui tribes.

The original Baloch homeland probably lay on the Iranian plateau. The Baloch were mentioned in Arabic chronicles of the 10th century ce . The old tribal organization is best preserved among those inhabiting the Sulaimān Mountains. Each tribe ( tuman) consists of several clans and acknowledges one chief, even though in some tuman there are clans in habitual opposition to the chief.

The Baloch are traditionally nomads, but settled agricultural existence is becoming more common every chief has a fixed residence. The villages are collections of mud or stone huts on the hills, enclosures of rough stone walls are covered with matting to serve as temporary habitations. The Baloch raise camels, cattle, sheep, and goats and engage in carpet making and embroidery. Their agricultural methods are primitive. They profess Islam.

Some 70 percent of the total Baloch population live in Pakistan. About 20 percent inhabit the coterminous region of southeastern Iran. This geographic region is the least-developed in Iran, partially owing to its harsh physical conditions. Precipitation, which is scarce and falls mostly in violent rainstorms, causes floods and heavy erosion, while heat is oppressive for eight months of the year. The mountain chains of Iranian Balochistān, including the Bāga-e Band and Bāmpusht Mountains, run east-west, parallel to the Gulf of Oman, making ingress and egress difficult. In the centre of the region there are abundant groundwater and streams, such as the Māshkīd and the Kunāri, that sometimes open out into valleys.

In ancient times, Iranian Balochistān provided a land route to the Indus River valley and the Babylonian civilizations. The armies of Alexander the Great marched through Balochistān in 326 bce on their way to the Hindu Kush and, on their return march in 325, experienced great hardships in the region’s barren wastes.

The Seljuq invasion of Kermān in the 11th century ce stimulated the eastward migration of the Baloch. The Seljuq ruler Qāwurd (Kavurt) sent an expedition against the Kufichis (Qufs), Baloch mountaineers whose banditry had long threatened the region’s southern and eastern parts. After suppressing the Baloch, the Seljuqs put watchtowers, cisterns, and caravansaries along the desert route to encourage trade with India. The Baloch remained rebellious under Ṣafavid rule (1501–1736). Western Balochistān was conquered by Iran in the 19th century, and its boundary was fixed in 1872. The Iranian government began to assist settlement and economic development in the 1970s by building dams and thermoelectric-power plants, though these efforts slackened after the Iranian Islamic Revolution.

Palm-tree oases in central Iranian Balochistān contain orchards of oranges, pomegranates, mulberries, and bananas. Grain, tobacco, rice, cotton, sugarcane, and indigo plants are the principal crops. A road was opened from Zāhedān to the port of Chāh Bahār. Zāhedān also is connected by rail with Pakistan, Zābol, and Tehrān and it is a junction for roads east-west.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.

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