Oman since Al Nabahina rule till modern day
The recorded history of Oman spans over 13 centuries. It is not relevant to recall this entire history in this website; instead the research has focussed on contexts most relevant to the website topic. Accordingly, the periods of modern history immediately preceding the current reign of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said from (1970 till now), specifically the Al Nabahina (1154 till 1624), Al Ya'ariba (1624 till 1741) and Al Busaid (1744) dynasties, have been reviewed.
1. The rule of Al Nabahina in Oman
The rule of the Al Nabahina in Oman spanned almost (350) three hundred and fifty years, and what distinguishes this period of the history of Oman is that it stands as the most obscure periods due to lack of records. Omani historians generally agree that the rule of the Al Nabahina can be divided into two periods:
The first period from (1154 till 1500), is known as the early Al Nabahina period and lasted three hundred and fifty years. It underwent phases of the strengths and weaknesses because of internal conflict. Invasions by external forces permeated this period and wars faced Al Nabahina at home and abroad along with the inauguration of the imams from time to time.
The second period from (1500 till 1624), is known as the late Al Nabahina period and lasted almost a hundred years, punctuated by various events, including the inauguration of the imams and the power struggle between the Al Nabahina themselves on the one hand and among some tribes of Oman ambitious in reaching the rule of Oman on the other hand. This period also saw harsh conditions in the form of the invasion of the Persians from Sohar in the growing war between the tribes, and the entry of outside parties in the conflicts which led to a widening of the size of the conflicts between the tribes of Oman which is why in the end the Portuguese entered the field.
The last period of the rule of Al Nabahina can be described as a dark period in Omani history. Scientists suffered persecution. Books were burned. Religious and educational activities were curtailed. Laws were removed and chaos spread. Property and land were confiscated.
Omani man standing at the desert National Geographic Magazine 1956
The characteristics of the of Al Nabahina era
The era of Al Nabahina may be considered a dark epoch in the history of Oman but it was not the case in another area dominated by Al Nabahina. The kingdom of Pat, which was located in the archipelago of Lamu on the coast of Africa, was a centre of civilization, science and culture, spread Islam among many Africans and established relations with the dominant populations of the region, whether on the coast or at home. Thus the Al Nabahina had a big role in linking Oman and east Africa to have strong ties and consolidation, which shows in the effect of Omani and African trade in goods imported there. Omanis are important to them in their daily lives, such as spices, textiles, and some special materials that go into the manufacture of some parts of the Khanjar such as leather of various types, rhino horns and elephant tusks.
2. The rule of Al Ya'ariba in Oman
The State of Al Ya'ariba lasted for nearly one hundred and fifty years started from (1624 till 1741), and Oman witnessed for the first time in hundreds of years the unification of internal and coastal areas under the Al Ya'ariba imams. It also got rid of Portuguese limitations in their power, and was truly the first Arab state to be free of their influence. Thus began the State’s movement toward expanding the political and economic influence of external verification in the era of Al Busaid family rulers following Al Ya'ariba, a family of Al Busaid.
The struggle of Al Ya'ariba – particularly as it related to the ridding of Portuguese control at various stages – provided this State with safety and tranquillity. Their efforts to unite the country and adapt the tribes to them were significant accomplishments that helped to expand the influence of the State on the shores of the Indian Ocean and eastern Africa.
This expansion had an effect on the exchange of certain lifestyles and influenced cultures. An example of the spread this effect on food and clothing was the turban imported from India. The white sails of Omani ships printed with the slogan (swords and Khanjar) were actually manufactured in India.
In addition to the importation of sandalwood and bitter orange wood, which were required to manufacture the handles of the Khanjar, This expansion also impacted on some of the inscriptions or patterns of Omani Khanjar. Anyone interested in the research or in-depth study of the Omani Khanjar will notice one characteristic pattern resembling the eye or tear of the eye, which appears on the Khanjar belt and scabbard cover. Khanjar makers knew this kind of pattern by several names such as deer eye, and the appearance of this design is due to the type of mango fruit in India, which is called (Kairi or mango) in India. This pattern can be seen on textiles worn by Indian women or in Indian temples. This pattern is still characteristic in Indian dress, and it has had a significant impact on several peoples, including the Arab peoples and Europeans at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The path of the Omani commercial ships. National Geographic Magazine 1982
The inscription on the Khanjar belt
The inscriptions found on the scabbard cover
The characteristics of the Al Ya'ariba era
Perhaps the most important achievement of the Al Ya'ariba era was in terms of security, stability and prosperity that also marked the evolution of the massive but outdated Navy of Oman.
The Omani historian Humaid bin Zureiq describes the period of prosperity during the reign of Imam Sultan bin Saif, Imams of Al Ya'ariba as follows: "Oman has flourished at that time, and rested the peoples in that time, has licensed the price, and become easy to travel, also become better trade and easy to find food".
He Humaid bin Zureiq also researched the development of this Imam at the Omani Navy whose practices were adopted in turn by the most imams later, and resulted in the Omani fleet of Navy ships being equipped with the big cannons like many European ships to become an even stronger Omani Navy fleet of warships in the Indian Ocean.
3. The rule of Al Busaid in Oman
In the midst of difficult circumstances, Omani reformers began looking and thinking of a strong personality firm to be relied upon to protect the country, and found that in Ahmed bin Said – Governor of Sohar – who excelled in the face of the Persians to be an Imam to Oman. Under his leadership, strife vanished along with conflicts and civil wars that had erupted at the end of Al Ya’ariba rule and started from (1744). He also had control over all the castles and forts in the country. He himself selected the rulers and ruled the country with a strong hand, which enabled him to eliminate the corruption that had been in the country.
Guard and warrior in Nizwa fort National Geographic Magazine 1981
At that time, Oman established a new historical era that had taken Oman to stability and unity and prosperity, which in turn prompted the Omanis to go about rebuilding and repairing what had been destroyed and started trends towards greater civilisation achievements, both internal and external, which continued to impact during the subsequent time period.
As a result of this progress in commercial and maritime development, European countries were keen to establish trade agencies in the cities of Oman.
The characteristics of the Al Busaid era
The Al Busaid era was characterised by a lot of achievements, including the internal administrative organisation that is made up of the legislature, the judiciary and the executive, which in turn is in the finance house or department of finance and the governors and police and private security guards and the army and fleet. There was also interest in developing the army for the protection of Oman and its regions and maintaining its position by means of a regular army with advanced combat capabilities. There was also interest in developing the fleet in order to maintain trade and the protection of coastal areas.
Omani business ship National Geographic Magazine 1982
Omani ports became famous for the export and import of goods. Among the most famous of those goods were elephant tusks and rhino horns, which were used by the Omanis in the Omani Khanjar handle-making industry. The finest horns were imported from East Africa especially from Zanzibar and Kenya, and neighbouring countries were keen on importing them through the ports in Oman because they were used in ornaments for females and some types of furniture or decoration of houses. At the present time, these horns have become universally prohibited from trafficking. Consequently, other materials are being used as substitutes to make Khanjar handles including wood (bitter orange wood and sandalwood), and plastic.
Many industries from a variety of differing regions of the Sultanate flourished including shipbuilding, textiles, copper, incense, pottery, leather and silverware such as ornaments for females and the Omani Khanjar that men at that time were keen to wear as a sign of prestige and to complement the Omani uniform comprising the long cloth (Dishdasha), a turban and the Omani Khanjar.
The influence of Omani culture in the east of Africa began in the reign of Said bin Sultan in 1804, which formed the pillars of civilization by means of cultural and civilizational influence. The Al Busaid ruler hired in East Africa a large number of consultants and scientists from all fields. They succeeded in collecting the various Arab tribes in East Africa and with the participation of tribal leaders they consulted about the functions of the state and its problems either in Oman or in Zanzibar. As a result of this cultural transfer to the people of East Africa, especially in terms of wearing the Omani dagger and adopting Omani industry, they became involved in African industries, activities and social life.
Omani Khanjar makers in Zanzibar National Geographic Magazine 1952
Because of the Al Busaid rulers, the African community started to become familiar with councils held by the rulers to get to know the problems of the nearby parish and to hear community opinion in regard to the interests of everyone.
The rulers of in Zanzibar National Geographic Magazine 1952
The rule of Sultan Qaboos bin Said
The rule of Sultan Qaboos is an extension of the State of Al Busaid start from (1970) till this day. Under the leadership of his Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Sultanate of Oman managed to reach the ranks of developed countries, including the renaissance and the development of various fields and sectors. On 23rd July 1970, which was a glorious day in the history of Oman, the commander declared that Oman today is not like the past because it has changed her face pale and shaken off the dust of her isolation and stagnation and kicked off to open its doors and windows to a new light. “Oman today is different than before, it has changed the face pale and shaken off the dust of the isolation and began to open its doors and windows for a new light, Oman today boast of neighbour Arab countries and around the world, the progress and prosperity. The leader promised his people “Dear people, I will work as fast as I can to make you happy to live a better future”.
The dress of the royal family and Sultan Qaboos at the beginning of his rule National Geographic Magazine 1973
The characteristics of the Sultan Qaboos bin Said era
Since taking the reins, Oman has became a country focussed on both Arab and international engagement and committed to foreign policy principles that abide by good neighbourliness and non-interference in internal affairs and respect for the laws and norms of international law and the establishment of friendly relations with all friendly countries.
The Sultan Qaboos cared about the heritage and symbols of identity in Oman. His Majesty said, “We are proud of our country's cultural identity in our journey to making progress and prosperity, we would like to commend all the attention to the need for citizens to demand traditional occupations on which our past, such as the professions of agriculture, fishing, and other skills and crafts as they have all of the utmost importance in the development of the economies of the country, so as not to lose and neglect of good resources blessed us by god” speech of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said on the occasion of the sixteenth National Day.
The Sultanate has a clear interest in developing these resources. Varied governmental institutions have been set up to deal with the development of these resources such as livestock, agriculture, fisheries and marine life. His Majesty has also encouraged traditional occupations such as the manufacturing of pottery, textiles and silverware of various kinds including the Omani Khanjar as an "Omani symbol". The Government of the Sultanate is one of the rare countries that have maintained their heritage and ancient symbols of civilization. In celebration of Oman’s seventeenth anniversary of the National Day, His Majesty gave craftsmen an assurance of the adherence to authenticity rights in Oman as well as sponsorship and personal care for workers. His role as the state sponsor of Omani rights that looks to the future at the same time was stressed.
The Sultanate's government focused on public services necessary for Omani citizens. There was widespread development of the transport sector, which resulted in the paving of roads and establishment of ports, airports and meteorological stations. The official administrative bodies of the government are the regional municipalities, which provide direct contact between the government and citizens in the country.
The Muscat Municipality is keen on developing the beauty of Muscat while maintaining the character of civilization of the Sultanate. Visitors will notice representative of the symbols of civilization such as silverware and pottery on roads and in government institutions alike. They may also find the Omani Khanjar the identification symbol of Oman standing tall in the streets and roads, as the government is keen to maintain Omani design that distinguishes Arab and Islamic character.
The beauty of the streets in Oman and the slogan of the country (swords and Khanjar)