Omani Empire at its peak under Said bin Sultan.
|Common languages||Official: Arabic|
|Saif bin Sultan (first)|
|Sultan bin Saif II|
|Saif bin Sultan II|
|Muhanna bin Sultan|
|Ya'arab bin Bel'arab|
|Muhammad bin Nasir|
|Sultan bin Murshid|
|Bal'arab bin Himyar|
|Al Busaid Dynasty|
|Ahmad bin Said|
|Said bin Ahmed|
|Hamad bin Said|
|Sultan bin Ahmed|
|Badr bin Seif|
|Said bin Sultan (last)|
• Maritime Empire started by
Saif bin Sultan
• Civil War
• Persian invasion
• Al Busaid Dynasty
• Treaty with the
• Divided into
|1840 est.||1,407,118 km2 (543,291 sq mi)|
Maria Theresa thaler
The Omani Empire (Arabic: الإمبراطورية العمانية) was a powerful maritime empire, vying with Portugal and Britain for influence in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. At its peak in the 19th century, Omani influence or control extended across the Strait of Hormuz to modern-day Iran and Pakistan, and as far south as Cape Delgado. After the death of Said bin Sultan in 1856 the empire was divided into two sultanates, an African section (Sultanate of Zanzibar) ruled by Majid bin Said and an Asian section (Sultanate of Muscat and Oman) ruled by Thuwaini bin Said.
Becoming a regional power
Muscat which was located in a strategic location on trade routes finally came under the control of the Portuguese Empire between 1507 and 1650. However, the Portuguese didn't succeed in controlling Oman in its entirety. In mid-17th century, the Omani tribes were able to end the Portuguese presence in Muscat.
In the year 1696, under the reign of Saif bin Sultan, an Omani fleet attacked Mombasa, besieging the Portuguese Fort Jesus, in which 2,500 of the population had taken refuge. The siege of the fort ended after 33 months when the garrison dying of hunger surrendered to the Omanis. In the following years, Saif bin Sultan continued a process of expansion down the east coast of Africa. By 1783, the Omani Empire had expanded eastwards to Gwadar in present day Pakistan. The Omanis also continued attacking Portuguese bases in western India. In the north, the Omanis moved into the Persian Gulf, taking Bahrain from the Persians, holding it for several years. The expansion of Omani power and influence southwards included the first large-scale settlement of Zanzibar by Omani migrants.
The agriculture in Oman had undergone a massive improvement under Saif bin Sultan. He is known for providing water to the interior lands of Oman, while he encouraged Omani Arabs to move from the interior and settle along the coast by planting date palms in the coastal Al Batinah Region. The town in the interior of Oman, Al Hamra, has it Irrigation system improved by the new built large falaj, it seems that the Yaruba dynasty supported major investment in settlement and agricultural works such as terracing along the Wadi Bani Awf. Saif bin Sultan built new schools. He made the castle of Rustaq his residence, adding the Burj al Riah wind tower.
Saif bin Sultan died on 4 October 1711. He was buried in the castle of Rustaq in a luxurious tomb, later destroyed by a Wahhabi general. said to include 28 ships, 700 male slaves and one third of Oman's date trees. He was succeeded by his son. Sultan bin Saif II (r. 1711–1718) established his capital at Al-Hazm on the road from Rustaq to the coast. Now just a village, there still are remains of a great fortress that he built around 1710, and which contains his tomb.
Alliance with the British Empire
Sultan bin Ahmad assumed control of the government after the death of his nephew and strengthened the already powerful fleet by adding numerous gunships and sleek cargo vessels, he also needed a strong ally to help him regain control of Mombasa from the Mazrui clan, fight off the movement spreading from what is now Saudi Arabia and to keep the Qasimi tribes from the Persian city of Lengeh out of Oman. He found this able ally in Great Britain, who by this time was a powerful maritime nation with an Empire expanding all over the world. In the late 18th century, the second British Empire was at war with France and knew that the French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, was planning to march through Persia and capture Muscat on his way to invade India. In 1798 Britain and Oman agreed a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation.
Sultan bin Ahmad pledged himself to British interests in India, and his territories became out of bounds to the French. He allowed the British East India Company to establish the first trading station in the Persian Gulf, and a British consul was posted to Muscat. As well as defeating Bonaparte, the British had another motive for the treaty with Oman: they wanted to put pressure on the sultan to end slavery, which had been declared illegal in England in 1772. At this time, the trade from Africa to Oman was still buoyant, and Zanzibar's position as an important trade centre was bolstered further when the supply of ivory from Mozambique to India collapsed because of excessive Portuguese export duties. The traders simply shipped their ivory through Zanzibar instead. Omani warships were in constant skirmishes up and down the gulf, which kept Sultan preoccupied. It was in the course of one of his sorties during an incursion abroad a ship in the Persian Gulf in 1804 that Sayyid Sultan was shot in the head by a stray bullet, he was buried in Lengeh.
Relations with the United States of America
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On 21 September 1833 a historic treaty of friendship and trade was signed with the United States of America. It was the second trade treaty formulated by the U.S. and an Arab state (Morocco being the first in 1820). The United States and Oman both stood to benefit, as the U.S. – unlike Britain and France – had no territorial ambitions in the Middle East and was solely interested in commerce. On 13 April 1840, the ship Al-Sultanah docked at New York, making it the first Arab envoy to ever visit the New World. Her crew of fifty-six Arab sailors caused a flurry of excitement among the three hundred thousand residents of that thriving metropolis. Al-Sultanah carried ivory, Persian rugs, spices, coffee and dates, as well as lavish gifts for President Martin Van Buren. The visit of Al-Sultanah lasted nearly four months, in which time the emissary, Ahmad bin Na'aman Al Kaabi, the first Arab emissary to visit the United States (whose portrait can still be seen in the Oman and Zanzibar display of the Peabody Museum in Massachusetts) and his officers were entertained by state and city dignitaries. They received resolutions passed by official bodies, were given tours of New York City and saw sections which would, a few decades later, become colonies of Arabic-speaking immigrants. Among Bin Na'aman's hosts was Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, in whose home he met Governor William H. Seward and Vice President Richard Mentor Johnson. The visit of Ahmad bin Na'aman Al Kaabi to America was a happy one, and when he prepared to leave, the United States completely repaired Al-Sultanah and presented him with gifts for his Sultan.
Said bin Sultan of Al Busaid Dynasty
Said bin Sultan was son of Sultan bin Ahmad, who ruled Oman from 1792 to 1804. Sultan bin Ahmad died in 1804 on an expedition to Basra. He appointed Mohammed bin Nasir bin Mohammed al-Jabry as the Regent and guardian of his two sons, Salim bin Sultan and Said bin Sultan. Sultan's brother Qais bin Ahmad, ruler of Sohar, decided to attempt to seize power. Early in 1805 Qais and his brother Mohammed marched south along the coast to Muttrah, which he easily captured. Qais then started to besiege Muscat. Mohammed bin Nasir tried to bribe Qais to leave, but did not succeed.
Mohammed bin Nasir called on Badr bin Saif for help. After a series of engagements, Qais was forced to retire to Sohar. Badr bin Saif became the effective ruler. Allied with the Wahhabis, Badr bin Saif became increasingly unpopular.To get his wards out of the way, Badr bin Saif made Salim bin Sultan governor of Al Maşna‘ah, on the Batinah coast and Said bin Sultan governor of Barka.
In 1806, Said bin Sultan lured Badr bin Saif to Barka and murdered him nearby. Said was proclaimed ruler of Oman. There are different accounts of what happened, but it seems clear that Said struck the first blow and his supporters finished the job. Said was acclaimed by the people as a liberator from the Wahhabis, who left the country. Qais bin Ahmad at once gave his support to Said. Nervous of the Wahhabi reaction, Said blamed Mohammed bin Nasir for the murder.
The division of the empire
Schisms within the ruling family were apparent after the death of Said bin Sultan, as his sons who had their own rivalries and ambitions for controlling the throne quarreled over the empire. Realizing that Majid would be unaware of their father’s death, Barghash came ashore secretly and tried to take control of the palace at Mtoni and the fort in Zanzibar town, but he was unable to muster enough supporters and his attempt was thwarted.
On 28 October 1856, Majid proclaimed himself Sultan of Zanzibar. A ship was sent to Oman with the news, but Said's elder son Thuwaini, who was appointed heir apparent on 23 July 1844 and had long acted as his father's Governor in Muscat and commander-in-chief of the Saidi forces, refused to acknowledge Majid and immediately tried to regain Zanzibar by force of arms. As a direct result of this struggle, the government of British India, concerned with the stability in the area, acted as arbitrator in the dispute. The Governor-General of British India, Lord Canning ruled in his arbitration that the empire was to be divided into two separate sultanates: The Sultanate of Zanzibar with its dependencies to Majid bin Said, Said's former Governor of the East African dominions, and the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman to Thuwaini bin Said. On 10 March 1862, the Zanzibar Guarantee Treaty was signed in Paris by Britain and France, whereby both parties agreed to respect the independence of the Sultan of Oman and the Sultan of Zanzibar. Recognizing the economic loss caused to Oman by the severance of the Zanzibar connection, Thuwaini insisted Majid pay 40,000 Maria Theresa thalers annually as compensation but the payment fell into arrears and ceased a year later.
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