Oman’s foreign trade in the first half of the last century was limited exclusively to agricultural products. Oman’s top exports early on were dates and regionally produced vegetables, fish, and frankincense resins. Trade during this time was primarily a domestic affair, with virtually no exchange with other states. Even rice, a staple of Omani food, was imported. Other types of goods were rarely imported nor considered necessary. There were no major trading ports in Oman, no serviceable airports, no infrastructure, and no modern communications technology. Oman was a dead country economically, in terms of world trade, and technologically. But then, the country’s oil production started and Sultan Quaboos, who seemed to only have been waiting for the opportunity to lead his people into a time of innovation and openness to the world, took his chance.
Today, Omani foreign trade is dominated by the two great energy suppliers oil and gas. These two products account for around 80 % of Oman’s exports. But the country and especially the economy of the country are undergoing a change. The foundations for the growth of new economic sectors have long been laid. With an excellent education system and a large number of government-supported programs for other economic sectors, Oman is working feverishly to make itself interesting in other areas of the world. It also found the way back to its roots.
In addition to oil and gas, Oman has returned to exporting products it previously sold to neighboring countries – (with modest means) until the middle of the last century. Today, Omani agricultural products like dates, lemons, pomegranates, Arabic vegetables and, above all, frankincense, can be obtained worldwide. Particularly skilled in the production of incense, Oman is a top global supplier and considered the world’s largest supplier of frankincense. But other export items such as metals, precious metals, and services are on the rise. So, as Oman strengthens its foreign trade, it wants to take an important step away from oil and gas dependency. And in recent years, Oman has been increasingly successful in diversifying its economy.