Oman is the site of pre-historic human habitation, stretching back over 100,000 years. The region was impacted by powerful invaders, including other Arab tribes, Portugal, and the Britain. Oman also had its own colony, Zanzibar, on the east coast of Africa, from which it derived wealth in the slave trade. Oman was exposed to Islam in 630, during the lifetime of the prophet Muhammad; consolidation took place in the Ridda Wars in 632.In 751 Ibadi Muslims, a moderate branch of the Kharijites, established an imamate in Oman. Despite interruptions, the Ibadi imamate survived until the mid-20th century.
Oman occupies a strategic location on the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, 35 miles (56 km) directly opposite Iran. Oman has concerns with regional stability and security, given tensions in the region, the proximity of Iran and Iraq, and the potential threat of political Islam. Oman maintained its diplomatic relations with Iraq throughout the Gulf War while supporting the United Nations allies by sending a contingent of troops to join coalition forces and by opening up to pre-positioning of weapons and supplies.
Al Said’s extensive modernization program has opened the country to the outside world and has preserved a long-standing political and military relationship with the United Kingdom, the US, and others. Oman’s moderate, independent foreign policy has sought to maintain good relations with all Middle Eastern countries.
Tourism in Oman has grown considerably recently, and it is expected to be one of the largest industries in the country. The World Travel & Tourism Council stated that Oman is the fastest growing tourism destination in the Middle East. Oman has one of the most diverse environments in the Middle East with various tourist attractions and is particularly well known for cultural tourism. The capital of Oman was named the second best city to visit in the world in 2012 by the travel guide publisher Lonely Planet. Muscat also was chosen as the Capital of Arab Tourism of 2012.