From the 17th century, Oman had its own empire, and vied 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 Iran, and modern day Pakistan, and as far south as Zanzibar. Oman has long-standing military and political ties with the United Kingdom and the United States, although it maintains an independent foreign policy.
Oman is an absolute monarchy in which the Sultan of Oman exercises ultimate authority, but its parliament has some legislative and oversight powers. As with other Arab States of the Persian Gulf, oil is the mainstay of the economy, providing a large proportion of GDP, although compared to its neighbours Oman is a modest producer. Agriculture and fishing are also important sources of income.
Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) is the foremost hydrocarbon exploration and production company in the Sultanate of Oman. It accounts for more than 90% of the country's crude-oil production and nearly all of its natural-gas supply. The Company is owned by the Government of Oman which has a 60% interest, Royal Dutch Shell which has a 34% interest, Total which has a 4% interest and Partex which has a 2% interest. The first economic find of oil was made in 1962, and the first consignment of oil was exported in 1967.
Hajj Moosa AbdulRahman Hassan was an Omani businessman, tribal leader, landlord and a Gulf icon. He was born in the old town of Muscat in 1902 and finished his studies in the American Mission School. He established a firm in 1927 in supplying coals and foodstuffs to British ships and frigates in Muscat, and went on to trade in many other commodities during a long career.