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RESIDENCE OF EMBASSY OF SULTANATE OF OMAN: RECEPTION & BRIEFING, 4/18/13

Please join our host Her Excellency Ambassador Hunaina Al-Mughairy
and her staff for a fascinating evening at the Ambassador's elegant Residence
Learn more about this unique nation
in the Middle East - only 6 places left
Event Date: Thursday, April 18th, 2013 at 6:30pm


Please join our host, Her Excellency Ambassador Hunaina Al-Mughairy, Ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman to the United States, for an enjoyable event hosted at the Ambassador's Residence on the evening of Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Ambassador will review various aspects of history, culture, culture, politics and issues of her nation.

Following comments, attendees will be able to ask questions and meet with members of the embassy staff. The reception will include a nice assortment of food and beverages.

LIMITED CAPACITY - Must register early to attend! This program will reach capacity quickly!

When:   Thursday, April 18, 2013, 6:30-8:30pm
Where:
   Residence of H.E. Ambassador Al-Mughairy
              The Ambassador's residence is at 2000 - 24th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008-1608 (on Embassy Row, it's on 24th St NW, going north from Mass Ave NW, past S, California, Tracy Place, to Wyoming -below Kalorama) Contrary to Google Maps, it is NOT in Foggy Bottom!

Parking:   Free parking in the areas near the Residence
Metro:
   Red Line, Dupont Circle or Woodley Park/Zoo stations

Price per person:
Current members

Wharton Club:

President's Club / Lifetime Members: Two complimentary admissions; must still RSVP

Regular Members: Early Bird through 4/4: $35/person. You can register now if you're a member.
You may also bring one guest for an additional $35.
After that date, $42/person.

Non-members:   probably will not be able to attend due to limited space.$56/person after 4/4 if space is available.

Click on hotlink to reserve. Prices include reception with food and beverages.

Reservations:   Required in advance. Your name and other registration information will be collected by the Club and provided to the Embassy for security reasons, as we hope you can understand. Limited capacity: Total of 30 people, subject to availability.


About the Ambassador
Full
name:  H.E. Hunaina Sultan Al-Mughairy, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Sultanate of Oman to the United States of America.

Ambassador Al-Mughairy is an economist with an extensive business background. From 1985 to 1991 she was Director of Industrial Planning and Research, Ministry of Commerce & Industry and a member of the Planning Committee for Major Gas projects in the Sultanate of Oman. From 1991 to 1996 she was appointed as an advisor to the Under-Secretary for Industry at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. From 1996 to 2005 she was the representative and director general of investment promotion at the Omani Center for Investment Promotion and Export Development, New York City. Since taking over this position as Ambassador, she has been a strong advocate for the US-Oman Free Trade Agreement and has focused much of her energy on improving relations between the U.S. and Oman.

As a result of the free trade agreement, exports from the United States to Oman have increased 80%. Texas is the largest exporter to Oman in the United States with over $360 million in exports in 2009. Oman is currently promoting private foreign investment in the infrastructure, industrial, information technology, tourism and high education fields with projects worth $12 billion in the next decade. The Sultanate of Oman is counted among the promising markets due to its strategic location.

Her husband, Fuad al-Hinai, is Omani Ambassador to the United Nations in New York.

About Oman
The Sultanate of Oman occupies the south-east corner of the Arabian Peninsula bordering Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the West, and the Republic of Yemen in the South.

History
Oman is the oldest independent state in the Gulf, founded in 1650 after its independence from Portugal. However, settlements in Oman date back from the third century BC, when it was on the trade route from ancient Mesopotamia to the Indian sub-continent. The region became more important, and wealthy, as a frankincense producer in the early centuries AD.

The Portuguese arrived in 1506 and used the country as a staging post on the route to India. However, they were expelled in 1650, after which time Oman consolidated its influence as an independent, commercial power.

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said (‘Sultan Qaboos’) came to power in July 1970 and has led the country through nearly 40 years of steady development. Relying on a moderate stream of oil revenue, his government has built up a solid infrastructure with sound educational and health systems. The Sultan rules by decree, but has introduced measures to broaden popular participation in government.

Oman has diplomatic relations with over 140 countries – a network which includes two female ambassadors (the U.S. and Holland) – and is a member of over 105 regional and international organizations.

Omani Government
In November 1996, the Sultan introduced a Basic Law, Oman's first written constitution. The Law established a succession mechanism, codified the system of government; set out the provisions for the development of the political and legal systems; and provided a blueprint for the direction of future economic policy.

The Basic Law created an appointed 40-member upper Chamber to complement the elected lower chamber. Four women were appointed to the State Council in 1997 and a further five were appointed in 2003. After the 2007 Shura Elections in which no women were returned, the number of women appointed to the Dowla was increased to 14.

The 2003 elections marked a new move towards democracy, as the Sultan extended the franchise to all Omanis over the age of 21 for the first time. Elections in 2007 continued Oman’s democratic progress. The Shura Council’s powers are limited, but growing. The Sultan has responsibility for drawing up new legislation, making public appointments, and holds the Ministerial portfolios of defense, finance and foreign policy.

Health Care
In 2002, the World Health Organization considered the Oman national health service as the best in the world for value for money in health care. There are several well-equipped private hospitals and clinics.

Basic Economic Facts
GDP:  US$59.87B (Omani Ministry of National Economy, 2008)
Annual Growth:  5.3% (2007)
Major Industries:  Oil, Natural Gas, Agriculture and Fishing
Major trading partners:  Japan, UAE, South Korea, China, EU, Thailand
Population:  2,867,428 (2008) (Omani Ministry of National Economy)
Capital City:  Muscat
People:  Arab, Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan), African and Baluchi
Languages:  Arabic (official), English, Farsi, Baluchi and Urdu
Religions:  No state religion.  The majority are Ibadhi Muslims.
Sunni and Shi’a Muslims make up the rest of the Omani population.  Significant numbers of South Asian Hindus and Christians.

 

 

THE SULTANATE OF OMAN (from Wikipedia.org) 

History - Stone Age
Wattayah, located in the governorate of Muscat, is the oldest known human settlement in the area and dates back to the Stone Age, making it around 5,000 years old. Archaeological remains from different dates have been discovered here, the earliest representing the Stone Age, then the Heliocentric Age and finally, the Bronze Age. Findings have consisted of stone implements, animal bones, shells and fire hearths. The latter date back to 7615 BC and are the oldest signs of human settlement in the area.

Other discoveries include hand-moulded pottery bearing distinguishing pre-Bronze Age marks, heavy flint implements, pointed tools and scrapers.

On a mountain rock-face in the same district, animal drawings have been discovered. Similar drawings have also been found in the Wadi Sahtan and Wadi Bani Kharus areas of Rustaq. These drawings consist of human figures carrying weapons and being confronted by wild animals. Siwan in Haima is another Stone Age location and some of the archaeological finds have included arrowheads, knives, chisels and circular stones which may have been used to throw at animals.

Oman Before Islam
Sumerian tablets refer to a country called Magan, a name thought to refer to Oman’s ancient copper mines. Mezoun is derived from the word muzn, which means abundant flowing water. The present-day name of the country, Oman, is believed to originate from the Arab tribes who migrated to its territory from the Uman region of Yemen. Many tribes settled in Oman making a living by fishing, herding or stock breeding and many present day Omani families are able to trace their ancestral roots to other parts of Arabia.

From the 6th century BC to the arrival of Islam in the 7th century AD, Oman was controlled and/or influenced by three Persian dynasties, the Achaemenids, Parthians and Sassanids. Achaemenids in the 6th century BC controlled and influenced the Oman peninsula. This was most likely exerted from a coastal center such as Sohar. By about 250 B.C. the Parthian dynasty brought the Persian Gulf under their control and extended their influence as far as Oman. Because they needed to control the Persian Gulf trade route, the Parthians established garrisons in Oman. In the third century A.D. the Sasanids succeeded the Parthians and held the area until the rise of Islam four centuries later.

The Arrival of Islam
The Omanis were among the first people to embrace Islam voluntarily. The conversion of the Omanis is usually ascribed to Amr ibn al-As, who was sent by the prophet Muhammad around 630 AD to invite Jaifar and ‘Abd, the joint rulers of Oman at that time, to accept the faith, in which he eventually succeeded.

In accepting Islam, Oman became an Ibadhi state which is named after alkhoarej, ruled by an elected leader, the Imam. During the early years of the Islamic mission Oman played a major role in the Wars of Apostasy that occurred after the death of Muhammad and also took part in the great Islamic conquests by land and sea in Iraq, Persia and beyond. However, its most prominent role in this respect was through its extensive trading and seafaring activities in East Africa, particularly during the19th century, when it propagated Islam in many of East Africa’s coastal regions, and certain areas of Central Africa.

Omanis also carried the message of Islam with them to China and the Asian ports. Oman was ruled by Umayyads between 661-750, AbbasidsQarmatians between 931-932 and between 933-934, Buyids between 967-1053, Seljuks of Kirman between 1053-1154. between 750-931, 932-933 and 934-967,

The Portuguese Settlement
The Portuguese occupied Muscat for a 140-year period 1508–1648, arriving a decade after Vasco da Gama discovered the seaway to India. In need of an outpost to protect their sea lanes, the Europeans built up and fortified the city, where remnants of their colonial architectural style
still remain.

Rebellious tribes drove out the Portuguese, but were pushed out themselves about a century later 1741 by the leader of a Yemeni tribe leading a massive army from various other tribes, who began the current line of ruling sultans. A brief Persian invasion a few years later was the final time Oman would be ruled by a foreign power. Oman has been self governing ever since.

Oman and East African Empire

The Sultan's Palace buildings in Zanzibar which was once Oman's capital and residence of its Sultans.

In the 1690s Saif bin Sultan, the imam of Oman, pressed down the East African coast. A major obstacle was Fort Jesus, housing the garrison of a Portuguese settlement at Mombasa. After a two-year siege, it fell to Saif in 1698.

Thereafter the Omanis easily ejected the Portuguese from Zanzibar and from all other coastal regions north of Mozambique. Zanzibar was a valuable property as the main slave market of the east African coast, and became an increasingly important part of the Omani empire, a fact reflected by the decision of the greatest 19th century sultan of Oman, Sa'id ibn Sultan, to make it from 1837 his main place of residence. Sa'id built impressive palaces and gardens in Zanzibar.

Rivalry between his two sons was resolved, with the help of forceful British diplomacy, when one of them, Majid, succeeded to Zanzibar and to the many regions claimed by the family on the East African coast. The other, Thuwaini, inherited Muscat and Oman.

Politics

The Sultan's Al Alam Palace in Muscat

Chief of state and government is the hereditary sultān, Qaboos bin Said Al Said who appoints a cabinet called the "Diwans" to assist him. In the early 1990s, the sultan instituted an elected advisory council, the Majlis ash-Shura, though few Omanis were eligible to vote. Universal suffrage for those over 21 was instituted on 4 October 2003. Over 190,000 people (74% of those registered) voted to elect the 84 seats.

Two women were elected to seats. The country today has three women ministers Rawiyah bint Saud al Busaidiyah - Minister of Higher Education, Sharifa bint Khalfan al Yahya'eyah - Minister of Social Development and Rajiha bint Abdulamir bin Ali al Lawati - Minister of Tourism. There are no legal political parties nor, at present, any active opposition movement. As more and more young Omanis return from education abroad, it seems likely that the traditional, tribal-based political system will have to be adjusted. A State Consultative Council, established in 1981, consisted of 55 appointed representatives of government, the private sector, and regional interests.

Geography

Desert landscape in Oman.

A vast gravel desert plain covers most of central Oman, with mountain ranges along the north (Al Hajar Mountains) and southeast coast, where the country's main cities are also located: the capital city Muscat, Sohar and Sur in the north, and Salalah in the south.

Coast of Sur, Oman.

Oman's climate is hot and dry in the interior and humid along the coast. During past epochs Oman was covered by ocean. Fossilized shells exist in great numbers in areas of the desert away from the modern coastline.

The peninsula of Musandam (Musandem), which has a strategic location on the Strait of Hormuz, is separated from the rest of Oman by the United Arab Emirates and is thus an exclave. The series of small towns known collectively as Dibba are the gateway to the Musandam peninsula on land and the fishing villages of Musandam by sea. Boats may be hired at Khasab for trips into the Musandam peninsula by sea.

Oman has another exclave, inside UAE territory, known as Madha. It is located halfway between the Musandam Peninsula and the rest of Oman. Belonging to Musandam governorate, it covers approximately 75 km2 (29 sq mi). The boundary was settled in 1969. The north-east corner of Madha is closest to the Fujairah road, barely 10 m (32.8 ft) away. Within the exclave is a UAE enclave called Nahwa, belonging to the Emirate of Sharjah. It is about 8 km (5 mi) on a dirt track west of the town of New Madha. It consists of about forty houses with its own clinic and telephone exchange.

Flora and Fauna
Desert shrub and desert grass, common to southern Arabia, are found. Vegetation is sparse in the interior plateau, which is largely gravel. Coconut palms grow plentifully in Dhofar and Frankincense grows in the hills. Oleander and varieties of Acacia abound. The Al Hajar Mountains are a distinct ecoregion, the highest points in eastern Arabia with wildlife including the Arabian tahr. desert. The greater monsoon rainfall in Dhofar and the mountains makes the growth there more luxuriant during summer.

Indigenous mammals include the Leopard, Hyena, Fox, Wolf, and Hare, Oryx and Ibex. Birds include the Vulture, Eagle, Stork, Bustard, Arabian Partridge, Bee Eater, Falcon and Sunbird.

Environment
Maintaining an adequate supply of water for agricultural and domestic use is Oman's most pressing environmental problem. The nation has limited renewable water resources, with 94% used in farming and 2% for industrial activity. Drinking water is available throughout the country, either piped or delivered. Both drought and limited rainfall contribute to shortages in the nation's water supply.

The nation's soil has shown increased levels of salinity. Pollution of beaches and other coastal areas by oil tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman is also a persistent problem.

In 2001, the nation had nine endangered species of mammals and five endangered types of bird. Nineteen plant species are also threatened with extinction. Decrees have been passed to protect endangered species, which include the Arabian Leopard, Arabian oryx, mountain gazelle, goitered gazelle, Arabian tahr, green sea turtle, hawksbill turtle and olive ridley turtle. In 2007 Oman's Arabian Oryx Sanctuary became the first site ever deleted from UNESCO's World Heritage list because of the government's decision to reduce the site to 10% of its former size.

Demographics
The Ministry of Economy estimates that in mid 2006 the total population was 2.577 million. Of those, 1.844 million were Omanis. The population has grown from 2.018 million in the 1993 census to 2.340 million in the 2003 census.

In Oman, about 50% of the population lives in Muscat and the Batinah coastal plain northwest of the capital; about 200,000 live in the Dhofar (southern) region, and about 30,000 live in the remote Musandam Peninsula on the Strait of Hormuz.

Some 600,000 expatriates live in Oman, most of whom are guest workers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, India and the Philippines.

Development plans

Muscat

The Omani economy has been radically transformed over a series of development plans beginning with the First Five-year Plan (1976-1980). At Sultan Qaboos's instruction, a vision of Oman's economic future up to the year 2020 was set out at the end of the first phase of the country's development 1970-1995. Vision 2020, outlined the country's economic and social goals over the 25 years of the second phase of the development process (1996-2020).

Oman 2020, held in June 1995, has developed the following aims with regard to securing Oman's future prosperity and growth:

  • To have economic and financial stability
  • To reshape the role of the Government in the economy and to broaden private sector participation
  • To diversify the economic base and sources of national income
  • To globalize the Omani economy
  • To upgrade the skills of the Omani workforce and develop human resources

A free-trade agreement with the United States took effect 1 January 2009, eliminating tariff barriers on all consumer and industrial products. It also provides strong protections for foreign businesses investing in Oman.

Tourism

Al-Bustan Palace Hotel

Oman is known for its popular tourist attractions. Wadis, deserts, beaches, and mountains are areas which make Oman unique to its neighboring GCC nations (Wadis in particular). With a coastline of 1700 km, Oman offers some of the cleanest, most stunning beaches a visitor could hope to see. Few beaches are private, except some attached to the beach resort hotels, or those adjoining military or official property.

Wadis are green, lush oases of palm trees, grasses, and flowering. Some wadis have year-round running water, with deep, cool pools in which it is quite safe to swim if the currents are slow.  Falaj (pl. aflaaj) means a system for the distribution of water and is commonly used to describe the irrigation channel system downstream of the water's source.Some aflaaj in Oman were built more than 1,500 years ago, whilst others were built at the beginning of the 20th century. In many cases, the only water has had to be attained by drilling into the ground to a depth of dozens of meters.

Numerous forts and castles are included among Oman's cultural landmarks and, together with its towers and city walls, they have historically been used as defensive bastions or look-out points. Forts were often the seats of administrative and judicial authority.  

 

 

 


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