PERSIAN GULF: Starting from Scratch

The twin-engined Caribou swoops down from a brilliant blue sky and lands squealing on a pocket airstrip scooped out of volcanic rock or sunbaked sand. Hardly has it braked to a stop when a tall, bearded figure hops out, one hand holding his bright ima-ma, or turban, against the airstream, the other fingering the silver kunjar, or dagger, at his waist. Brown-eyed, gentle Qabus bin Said, 30, absolute monarch of Oman, has arrived on another tour of his sultanate (see color pages). Through such visits the Sultan hopes to strengthen the loyalty...

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