Modern Era

Modern Era

Written by: Luca Krohn Last updated at: June 26, 2024

The modern era of Oman was initially dominated by the influence of Portuguese conquerors. After their arrival in the region around 1500 AD, the Portuguese began to build smaller settlements, which were exemplary and part of their expansion strategy in the Middle East. But as elsewhere, it was difficult for the Portuguese to establish themselves in Oman in the long term. Again and again, they had to assert their rule before the Ottomans, the English, the Persians, and the Dutch. In the end, however, the Yaruba dynasty succeeded in expelling the Portuguese from the country and subsequently united Oman. The Yaruba maintained close trade relations with East Africa, which brought it trade, especially in slaves, between India and East Africa and led to Oman’s prosperity.

Eventually, power struggles threw Oman into a civil war that lasted more than a quarter of a century, bringing back the Persians, who were then finally ousted by Ahmad bin Said. Since 1746, the Said Dynasty has ruled Oman and is still in power today. In 1798, Great Britain became increasingly influential in Oman through a treaty signed with the Sultan of Muscat and the East India Company. In 1840, Sultan Said moved his official residence to Zanzibar. Despite British foreign rule, this is considered the heyday of Omani history.

After the death of Sultan Said, inheritance disputes broke out among his two sons. As a consequence, the territory was divided in 1856 and thus emerged Oman and Zanzibar. However, this also heralded a period of economic decline. Maritime trade thus increasingly declined, which is also attributable to the opening of the Suez Canal to the first steamships and the fact that until recently, Oman had remained largely isolated and backward. It was not until 1970 that the reforms initiated by Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, who is still in office today, began the gradual opening and modernization of Oman.

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