OMAN: Emerging from the Dark Ages

A young monarch struggles to overcome his country's medieval past

The Sultanate of Oman, which means "peaceful land"in Arabic, is so remote that it has often been called the Tibet of the Arabian peninsula. Nonetheless, the thinly populated desert kingdom—820,000 people —is a country about the size of Kansas and has time and again been caught up in the vortex of international politics. Its 1,060-mile coastline is on the direct sea route from Europe to Asia; the country's northern tip overlooks the preferred deep channel of the Strait of Hormuz, 40 miles...

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