Skip to main content
Select Source:

Omanis

Omanis

PRONUNCIATION: oh-MAHN-eez

LOCATION: Oman

POPULATION: 1.5 million

LANGUAGE: Arabic; English

RELIGION: Islam (Ibadi sect)

1 INTRODUCTION

The present-day land of Oman was home to a fairly advanced civilization as far back as about 5000 bc. From 3000 bc until ad 1500, the Omanis were a prosperous, sea-faring, export-oriented people. During the sixth to seventh centuries ad, Islam was brought to Oman by the Arabs.

During the 1500s, the Portuguese invaded and built forts in the coastal towns to control the Arabian (or Persian) Gulf trade route. The Portuguese occupied the area for about 100 years until the Omanis drove them out. Oman had trade agreements and dealings with other European nations during the 300 years that followed. For the most part, Oman has not been under foreign rule since the Portuguese were driven out in the 1600s.

During the early to mid-nineteenth century, Oman became an important commercial center for the Persian Gulf area, and relations with other countries were developed. In the 1860s, the invention of the steamship and the opening of the Suez Canal eliminated the demand for Omani sailing ships and the need to stop at Omani ports. Oman entered a time of economic hardship, which lasted until oil production began in 1970. Until 1970, Oman also had been kept completely isolated by a succession of rigidly fundamentalist rulers. In 1970, Sultan Said bin Tamir was forced into exile by his son, Qaboos, who then became sultan. Sultan Qaboos began the production of oil and used the profits to make much-needed improvements in the country. Sultan Qaboos has brought electricity and running water, free modern education and health care, and great improvements in housing and roadways to Omanis.

The population of Oman is over two million. Approximately three-quarters are Omanis. The capital is Muscat, located on the northeast coast. All Omanis are Arabs.

2 LOCATION

Oman is located on the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula. The total area of Oman is slightly smaller than the state of Kansas. Its landscape includes a fertile coastal plain, mountains, and vast expanses of desert. Parts of Oman receive monsoon rains during the summer months. Rain also falls in the mountains. The rest of the country receives little or no rain, making water a very valuable commodity. An ancient water-management system dating back 2,500 years still operates, carrying water from the mountains down into the dry plains below. Oman is known for its extreme heat and humidity. Summer temperatures can rise as high as 110° F (43° C ) in the shade, and humidity reaches a drenching 96 percent.

3 LANGUAGE

Omanis speak Arabic. A few pockets of other languages exist as well. English is taught as a second language to all students beginning in primary school. Arabic, spoken by 100 million people worldwide, has many distinct dialects. Consequently, people living as few as 300 miles (about 500 kilometers) apart may not be able to understand one another. The written form of Arabic is the same for all literate Arabs (those able to read and write), regardless of how different their spoken dialects are. Arabic is written from right to left.

"Hello" in Arabic is marhaba or ahlan, to which one replies, marhabtayn or ahlayn. Other common greetings are As-salam alaykum (Peace be with you), with the reply of Wa alaykum as-salam (and to you peace). Ma'assalama means "Goodbye." "Thank you" is Shukran, and "You're welcome" is Afwan. "Yes" is na'am and "no" is la'a. The numbers one to ten in Arabic are wahad, ithnayn, thalatha, arba'a, khamsa, sitta, saba'a, thamanya, tisa'a, and ashara.

Arabs' names consist of their first name, their father's name, and their paternal grandfather's name. Women do not take their husband's name when they marry. They keep their father's family name as a sign of respect for their family of origin. First names usually indicate an Arab's religious affiliation. Muslims use names with Islamic religious significance, such as Muhammad and Fatima, while Christians often use Western names, as well as Arabic Christian names, such as Elias and Butrus.

4 FOLKLORE

Folktales include the legends of Sinbad the Sailor. There is also a legend that King Solomon of Israel flew to Oman on a magic carpet with his jinn (a spirit who can take on human or other animal form). He then built 10,000 channels for the ancient water-carrying system in ten days.

5 RELIGION

The original inhabitants of Oman were pantheists, worshiping various goddesses and gods. Many later converted to Christianity. When the Islamic revolution swept through in the seventh century ad, Omanis were among the first to adopt the new religion. All Omanis are Muslim, most belonging to the Ibadi sect. Ibadis are traditionalists who believe in maintaining the original purity of Islam as conceived by the Prophet Muhammad.

The Islamic religion has five so-called "pillars": (1) Muslims must pray five times a day; (2) Muslims must give alms, or zakat, to the poor; (3) Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk during the holy month of Ramadan; (4) Muslims must make the pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca (the spiritual center of Islam, located in Saudi Arabia); and (5) each Muslim must recite the shahada, which in English means, "I witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the prophet of Allah." Arabs say all their prayers facing in the direction of Mecca.

Islam is a simple, straightforward faith with clear rules for correct living. It is a total way of life, inseparable from the rest of one's daily concerns. Therefore, there is no such thing as the "separation of church and state" in Islamic countries such as Oman.

6 MAJOR HOLIDAYS

The one secular holiday in Oman is National Day on November 18. Otherwise, all the holidays are Muslim ones. Muslim holidays follow the lunar calendar, so their dates on the standard Western (Gregorian) calendar move back by eleven days each Western year. The main Muslim holidays are Eid al-Fitr, a three-day festival at the end of Ramadan; Eid al-Adha, a three-day feast of sacrifice at the end of the month of pilgrimage to Mecca; the First of Muharram, or the Muslim New Year; al-Mawlid An-Nabawi, the prophet Muhammad's birthday; and Eid al-Isra wa Al-Mìraj, a feast celebrating Muhammad's nocturnal visit to heaven. Friday is the Islamic day of rest, so most businesses and services are closed.

7 RITES OF PASSAGE

Omani boys are circumcised at either fifteen days or six years of age. In the past, circumcision was performed at the age of fifteen years in a ceremony involving both women and men.

Births are an occasion for celebration, particularly if the child is a boy. Weddings are perhaps the most elaborately celebrated occasions, with great feasts and dancing.

8 RELATIONSHIPS

Arab hospitality reigns in Oman. When talking, Arabs touch each other much more often, and stand much closer together, than Westerners do. People of the same sex will often hold hands while talking or walking. (In earlier days, members of the opposite sex, even married couples, never touched in public. This is changing today.) Arabs talk a great deal, talk loudly, repeat themselves often, and interrupt each other constantly. Conversations are highly emotional and full of gestures.

9 LIVING CONDITIONS

Before Sultan Qaboos took over in 1970, conditions in Oman were extremely primitive. There was no electricity or running water. Houses were built of either mud brick or woven and knotted palm fronds. There were almost no paved roads, and the only means of transportation were camels and donkeys. There were no newspapers and no television or radio stations. Since 1970, Sultan Qaboos has introduced electricity and running water to most of the country, built many new structures of cement block, constructed extensive paved roads, and modernized communications, health care, and education, all of which are provided free of charge. Most Omanis now own cars and trucks. The distance from the capital city of Muscat in the northeast to the city of Salalah at the other end of the country can now be crossed in one day. It used to take two weeks by camel caravan.

10 FAMILY LIFE

Omanis are a tribal people, and the family is the center of their life. Marriages are traditionally arranged by parents, with first cousins being the preferred match. The groom pays the bride a dowry (marriage gift of goods or money), or mahr, which becomes her property no matter what happens. Polygyny (more than one wife) is legal, but it is very rarely practiced. Divorce is rare. Girls can be betrothed (engaged) as young as eleven or twelve years of age.

An Omani woman's role is domestic, while the man's is public. Men take care of all business and public transactions, even doing most of the food shopping. Women take care of the home, doing all the cooking, cleaning, and child care. Women and children do most of the sheep, goat, and poultry herding. On farms, women do most of the work in the fields. Weaving and embroidery are also women's tasks. Although Oman is one of the most traditional Islamic countries, women are actually much less restricted in Oman than are women in other Arab nations. Omani women are the only women on the Arabian Peninsula who are allowed to vote.

11 CLOTHING

Omani men wear the traditional dishdasha, an ankle-length robe, usually white. Sometimes they wear a bisht, a kind of cloak, over their dishdasha. On their heads they wear a skullcap or a turban. Many Omani men carry a camel sticka length of bamboo with a curved handle, like a cane. Almost all Omani men wear a curved dagger called a khanjar through their belt.

Women in Oman wear very colorful dresses over loose-fitting pants that are gathered tightly at the ankles. They wear scarves on their heads, and a lot of jewelry. In public, most Omani women wear a black ankle-length robe called an abaya, and many veil their faces.

All Omanis wear leather sandals on their feet.

12 FOOD

Staple foods in Oman consist of rice, dates, fruit, fish, and meat. Most meat is cooked in a tanour, a hole in the ground where a fire is built and then allowed to burn down to ashes. Meat is wrapped and cooked for twenty-four hours before eating. Omanis eat their meals on the floor or ground, the dishes spread on a cloth. Food and drink are always taken with the right hand. The main meal of the day is at noon; breakfast and supper are light meals. A favorite dessert is halawa (halvah), a sweet, flaky treat usually made of crushed sesame seeds and honey. Coffee is drunk strong and black, sometimes flavored with cardamom. Bedu (or Bedouin) nomads eat the locusts that swarm over farmers' crops.

13 EDUCATION

Before Sultan Qaboos took over in 1970, there were only three schools in Oman, with a total of 900 students, all boys. Today there are over 1,000 schools, with a total enrollment of 482,000 students, almost half girls. Girls and boys go to separate schools, but their education is similar. Education is free to all Omanis from the preschool through postgraduate levels. Children's education goes through primary, preparatory, and secondary stages. Some students attend college or technical training institutes after secondary school. The Sultan Qaboos University was opened for classes in September 1986. Sixty-five percent of its students are female. The literacy rate (ability to read and write) in 1995 was determined to be about 59 percent for Omanis over fifteen years of age. Hundreds of adult-education and literacy centers have been established to help eliminate illiteracy.

Recipe

Halvah Shortbread

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1¼ cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached pastry flour
  • ½ cup toasted pecans or walnuts, chopped or ground
  • a few pecan or walnut halves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°f.
  2. Cream the butter with the tahini, using a food processor or electric mixer, or by hand. Add the salt and brown sugar, and blend until smooth.
  3. Sprinkle in the flour, blending well. Mix in the chopped or ground nuts. The dough will be very stiff.
  4. Lightly butter two 7-inch pie plates or shallow baking pans. Press the dough to evenly cover the bottom of the pie plates to a thickness of no more than 1 inch. Press a few nut halves into the surface to decorate.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes. Check the short-bread frequently, and remove it from the oven as soon as the edges are golden-brown.
  6. While it is still warm, cut each short-bread into 8 or 10 wedges in the pan (if you wait until it is cool to cut it, it will crumble).

Adapted from Moosewood Collective, Sunday at the Moosewood Restaurant, New York: Fireside Books, Simon & Schuster, 1990, pp. 8485.

14 CULTURAL HERITAGE

The Ministry of National Heritage and Culture was established in 1976. It has restored many historic buildings, including forts, castles, and ancient houses. The Ministry has also built numerous historical museums, libraries, and cultural centers, and organized excavations of ancient remains. Excavations have uncovered pottery jars, beads, and arrowheads dating back to the third millennium bc.

Music is not encouraged by the Ibadi sect of Islam. Yet some folk music has developed in Oman. The Oman Center for Traditional Music was founded in August 1983 to collect and document Omani folk music. Folk music is played on traditional instruments such as drums, a trumpet made out of horn, a straight pipe, and the rebaba, a stringed instrument. Sea chanteys (sailors' songs) have been sung throughout the sea-faring Omanis' history. In 1985, Sultan Qaboos established the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra, as well as a music-training school that is attended by both sexes.

Visual arts in Oman are mostly confined to everyday objects, such as kitchen utensils, rugs, ceramic pots, and clothing.

15 EMPLOYMENT

In the fertile areas of Oman, most people are farmers. About 10 percent of Omanis are fishers in the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea. Boatbuilding is an ancient craft passed down from generation to generation. Traditionally, boats were built from palm fronds, and larger ones from wood. These traditional boats are still used, although recently many fishers have purchased aluminum boats. Sails and oars used to be the means of propulsion; most boats now have motors.

Omani nomads herd sheep, goats, and camels. Oman is the camel-breeding capital of the world.

Although most of Oman's revenue currently comes from oil, that industry employs only a few thousand Omanis. Roughly two-thirds of laborers in the work force are currently foreign workers.

16 SPORTS

Since 1970, Sultan Qaboos has increased the scope of sporting activities in the country. Sports complexes and sports clubs have been built throughout Oman. The traditional sport of camel racing is very popular, as is horse racing. Hockey was introduced into Oman from India in the nineteenth century and is very popular. Many Omanis enjoy target shooting, and some have won regional or international shooting competitions. Omani national teams have also competed in the Olympic games.

17 RECREATION

Omanis enjoy plays and concerts performed by the national Youth Theater, established in 1980. Boys have joined Boy Scout groups since 1948; girls have been able to be Girl Scouts since 1970. The National Organization for Scouts and Guides, established in 1975, aims to develop in youth a sense of service, self-reliance, responsibility, and public spirit. There are ten Scout camps in the country.

18 CRAFTS AND HOBBIES

All art in Oman is utilitarian (designed for usefulness rather than beauty) and can therefore be seen as folk art. Silver-, gold-, and coppersmithing are perhaps the most highly developed arts. Weaving, embroidery, and woodcarving also are highly intricate and require great skill. Pottery is also a well-developed utilitarian art.

19 SOCIAL PROBLEMS

Ecologically, Oman is a very clean country, with stiff fines for littering (or even for having a dirty car). However, there is a great deal of coastal pollution from oil tankers, from the mining of sand to build new roads, and from the dumping of wastes.

The once nearly extinct white oryx, an antelope, has been successfully reintroduced into the wild in Oman. However, several species of sea turtles continue to be endangered by the Omani taste for turtle soup. Groundwater reserves are being rapidly used up, and the dry climate of today cannot provide enough rain to refill them.

Politically, Oman has operated under a traditional sultanate structure, in which family members are given all the positions of authority and decision-making. This system is quickly becoming harmful to Oman's welfare. Many commoners are now much better educated and trained in the skills needed for government posts than members of the ruling family. Since the production of oil began in 1970, the ruling family has kept Oman's citizens quiet by giving them great benefits and financial gifts. In return, citizens have not questioned the way the government is run. But those days are quickly disappearing. Oman has very limited oil reserves and they are likely to run out soon. Government handouts will then have to be severely cut back. Sultan Qaboos is trying to develop non-oil industries, but he has had limited success so far.

20 BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dutton, Roderic. An Arab Family. Minneapolis, Minn.: Lerner Publications Co., 1985.

Hawley, Sir Donald. Oman and Its Renaissance. London: Stacey International, 1990.

Moss, Joyce, and George Wilson. Peoples of the World: The Middle East and North Africa. Detroit: Gale Research, 1992.

Zahlan, Rosemarie Said. The Making of the Modern Gulf States: Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. London: Unwin Hymen, 1989.

WEBSITES

ArabNet. Oman. [Online] Available http://www.arab.net/oman/oman_contents.html, 1998.

World Travel Guide. [Online] Available http://www.wtgonline.com/country/om/gen.html, 1998.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Omanis." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Omanis." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 13, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/omanis

"Omanis." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved October 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/omanis

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Al Bu Saʿid, Qabus ibn Saʿ

AL BU SAʿID, QABUS IBN SAʿID

Ruler of Oman.

Qabus ibn Saʿid ibn Taymur Al Bu Saʿid became sultan of Oman in 1970 and is the fourteenth member of the Al Bu Saʿid dynasty to rule Oman. Qabus (also Qaboos) was born in Salala, in the southern Omani province of Dhufar, on 18 November 1940. His father was Sultan Saʿid ibn Taymur (r. 19321970) and his mother came from the Bayt Maʿshani tribe of the Dhufari mountains. In 1958, Qabus was sent to England for schooling, and he subsequently attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. His return to Oman in 1964 was followed by years of enforced inactivity in Salala under his father's watchful eye.

The late 1960s saw increasing unrest in Oman due to Sultan Saʿid's apparent refusal to spend his new oil revenues and because of a rebellion in Dhufar against the sultan's paternalistic rule. By mid-1970, the situation had worsened and Qabus joined forces with his friends in Salala and British and Omani backers in Muscat to organize a coup d'état against his father on 23 July 1970.

In contrast to his father, Qabus threw the country open to development and welcomed back the thousands of Omanis working abroad. Within a week of his accession, the country's first true Council of Ministers was formed with Qabus's uncle, Tariq ibn Taymur, as prime minister. Two weeks after the coup, Sultan Qabus arrived in Muscat for the first time and took charge of the new government. Differences between the two men forced Tariq's resignation in 1971; Sultan Qabus has served as his own prime minister since then.

From the beginning of his reign, Qabus faced two primary challenges: economically transforming one of the world's most underdeveloped countries and dealing with the serious rebellion in Dhufar. In the early 1970s, development activity concentrated on providing education, healthcare, water, and electricity to the people and creating a modern infrastructure. At the same time, the course of the Dhufar rebellion was reversed with British, Jordanian, and Iranian assistance and through an intensive "hearts and minds" campaign. The sultan was able to declare the war over in 1975.

Sultan Qabus clearly stands at the apex of the political system of Oman. Decision-making tends to bypass the Council of Ministers and flow directly up to him. He also has steered the country to a moderate path in international affairs, establishing diplomatic relations with China and Russia while maintaining close political and security links with Britain and the United States. Sultan Qabus was one of the few Arab leaders not to break off relations with Egypt following the Camp David Accords. He was careful to keep channels open to both sides during the IranIraq War (1988) and permitted Western powers to use Omani facilities during the hostilities against Iraq in 1990 and 1991. He also agreed to border treaties in the early 1990s with Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Sultan Qabus has no direct heirs. A marriage arranged by his father to the daughter of an important tribal shaykh never was finalized. A marriage in 1976 to his cousin Kamila, a daughter of Tariq ibn Taymur, ended in divorce.

see also al bu saʿid family and tribe of oman.

Bibliography

Allen, Calvin H., and Rigsbee, W. Lynn, II. Oman under Qaboos: From Coup to Constitution,19701996. Portland, OR, and London: Frank Cass, 2000.

Peterson, J. E. Oman in the Twentieth Century: Political Foundations of an Emerging State. New York and London: Croon Helm, 1978.

Peterson, J. E. "Qabus bin Said." In Political Leaders of the Contemporary Middle East and North Africa: A Biographical Dictionary, edited by Bernard Reich. New York: Green-wood Press, 1990.

Skeet, Ian. Oman: Politics and Development. New York: St. Martin's Press; London: Macmillan, 1992.

J. E. Peterson

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Al Bu Saʿid, Qabus ibn Saʿ." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Al Bu Saʿid, Qabus ibn Saʿ." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 13, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/al-bu-said-qabus-ibn-sa

"Al Bu Saʿid, Qabus ibn Saʿ." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Retrieved October 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/al-bu-said-qabus-ibn-sa

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Omanis

Omanis

PRONUNCIATION: oh-MAHN-eez
LOCATION: Oman
POPULATION: 3 million
LANGUAGE: Arabic; English
RELIGION: Islam: Majority Ibadi sect as well as Sunni and Shia

INTRODUCTION

Archaeological evidence shows human activity in the present-day land of Oman as far back as 12,000 BC, with fairly advanced civilization showing up at about 5000 bc. From 3000 BC until ad 1500, the Omanis were a prosperous, seafaring, export-oriented people, with most of their wealth coming from the export of frankincense (a tree resin native to the area that was highly valued for medicine, perfume, and religious incense). In the 4th century bc, Oman came under the domination of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire. Arab tribal groups from Yemen migrated to Oman and seized control of the country from the Persians. During the 6th to 7th centuries ad, Islam was brought to Oman by the Arabs. During the 1500s, the Portuguese invaded and built forts in the coastal towns to control the Arabian (or Persian) Gulf trade route.

The Portuguese occupied the area for about 100 years, until the Omanis, led by Imam Nasir ibn Murshid, drove them out. In 1646, the Omanis established friendly relations with the British and signed the first of a series of trade agreements. The strong British influence lasted for the next three centuries. The Dutch East India Company made its presence known in Oman from about 1660 to 1760, and the French became a force to reckon with in the mid-1700s. But except for a brief time during the Omani Civil War in the early 1700s, when Persia took control, Oman has not been under foreign rule since the Portuguese were driven out in the 1600s.

The Omani Civil War broke out after the death of Imam Sultan ibn Saif II in 1718. Two successors vied for the imamate, and then more complications arose. The Persians then took advantage of the situation and invaded. Ahmad ibn Said became an Omani hero when he drove out the Persians, and in 1747 he was elected imam. Small conflicts continued, but the civil war was over.

During the early to mid-19th century, Oman was ruled by Sayyid Said bin Sultan. Oman became an important commercial center for the Gulf area, and relations with other countries were developed. Oman established diplomatic relations with the United States in 1840.

In the 1860s, the invention of the steamship and the opening of the Suez Canal eliminated the demand for Omani sailing ships and the need to stop at Omani ports. Oman entered a time of economic hardship that lasted until oil production began in 1970. Till 1970, Oman had also been kept completely isolated by a succession of rigidly fundamentalist imams and sultans. Finally, on 23 July 1970, Sultan Said bin Tamir was forced into exile by his son, Qaboos, who then became sultan. Sultan Qaboos began the production of oil and used the profits to make much-needed improvements. He loosened the restrictions on contact with foreigners while trying to maintain traditional Islamic values. Sultan Qaboos has brought electricity and running water, free modern education and health care, and great improvements in housing and roadways to Omanis throughout the country, as well as modern technology, such as telephone and television services and satellite communications.

The first national census took place in December 1993, and its results were published in January 1995. The population of Oman was determined to be 2,018,074. Seventy-three percent are Omanis, and 27% are non-Omanis. The capital is Muscat, located on the northeast coast. Most of Oman's foreigners live in Muscat, where they make up 46% of the capital's inhabitants. The majority of Omanis are Arabs, but substantial minorities are of Persian and Indian descent.

LOCATION AND HOMELAND

Oman is located on the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered on the west by Saudi Arabia, on the southwest by Yemen, on the east by the Arabian Sea, and on the northeast by the Gulf of Oman, and it is cut off from its northernmost tip by the United Arab Emirates. The northern tip of Oman lies on the east coast of the narrow Strait of Hormuz, the passageway between the Gulf of Oman (and the Arabian Sea) and the Arabian (or Persian) Gulf. The total area of Oman is about 310,000 sq km (about 120,000 sq mi), approximately the same size as the British Isles, or just slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Kansas. Oman has about 1,600 km (about 1,000 mi) of coastline. The landscape of Oman varies from a fertile coastal plain, known as the Batinah, to the mountains of the Al-Hajar range, to the deserts of the Empty Quarter (which covers a vast stretch of the Arabian Peninsula). The small northern tip of Oman on the Strait of Hormuz and the southern province of Dhofar both receive monsoon rains during the months of June through September. Rain also falls in the mountains. The rest of the country receives little or no rain, making water a very valuable commodity. An ancient water-management system dating back 2,500 years still operates, carrying water from the mountains down into the dry plains below. Oman is known for its extreme heat and humidity, with summer temperatures rising as high as 43°C (110°F) in the shade and humidity reaching a drenching 96%.

LANGUAGE

Omanis speak Arabic, with a few pockets of other languages including Kumzar (an Iranian dialect), and the Modern South Arabian languages, which are related to the Old South Arabian languages. English is taught as a second language to all students beginning in primary school. Other languages that are in usage include Swahili and Balochi (Pakistani dialect).

Arabic is spoken by up to 422 million people worldwide, both as native and non-native speakers. Arabic has many distinct dialects, so that people living as few as 500 km (about 310 mi) apart may not be able to entirely understand one another. The written form of Arabic is called Classical Arabic, or, for today's literature and press, Modern Standard Arabic. It is the same for all literate Arabs, regardless of how different their spoken dialects are. Arabic is written from right to left in a unique alphabet that makes no distinction between capital and lower-case letters. It is not necessary for the letters to be written in a straight line, as English letters must be. Punctuation rules are also quite different from those of English.

"Hello" in Arabic is marhaba or ahlan, to which one replies, marhabtayn or ahlayn. Other common greetings are As-salam'alaykum, "Peace be with you," with the reply of Wa 'alaykum as-salam, "and to you peace." Ma'assalama means "Goodbye." "Thank you" is Shukran, and "You're welcome" is 'Afwan; "yes" is na'am and "no" is la'a. The numbers one to ten in Arabic are wahad, ithnayn, thalatha, arba'a, khamsa, sitta, saba'a, thamanya, tisa'a, and 'ashara.

Arab names consist of a first name, a father's name, and a paternal grandfather's name. Women do not take their husband's name when they marry but rather keep their father's family name as a sign of respect for their family of origin. First names usually indicate an Arab's religious affiliation: Muslims use names with Islamic religious significance, such as Muhammad and Ahmed for men, and Fatima and Khadija for women.

FOLKLORE

Folktales include the legends of Sinbad the Sailor. There is also a legend that King Solomon of Israel flew to Oman on a magic carpet with his jinn (a spirit who can take on human or other animal form) and built 10,000 channels for the ancient water-carrying system in 10 days.

RELIGION

The original inhabitants of Oman were pantheists, worshiping various goddesses and gods. Many later converted to Christianity. When the Islamic revolution swept through in the 7th century AD, Omanis were among the first to adopt the new religion. All Omanis are Muslims, most belonging to the Ibadi sect, one of the oldest and most traditional branches of Islam. Ibadis believe in maintaining the original purity of Islam as conceived by the Prophet Muhammad. Outside Oman, Ibadi Muslims are found only in North and East Africa.

Islam is the youngest of the world's Abrahamic religions, having begun in the early 7th century AD when the prophet Muhammad received his revelations from Allah (God). Within just a few years of Muhammad's death in ad 632, Islam had spread through the entire Middle East, gaining converts at a dynamic rate.

Born into the Koreish tribe of Mecca (c. ad 570), in what is now Saudi Arabia, Muhammad was later driven from the city because of his vigorous denunciation of the pagan idols worshiped there (idols that attracted a profitable pilgrim trade). The year of Muhammad's flight from Mecca, ad 622 (July 16), called the Hijra, is counted as the year one in the Muslim calendar. Muhammad fled to the city now known as Medina, another of the holy sites of modern-day Saudi Arabia. Eventually Muhammad returned to Mecca as a triumphant religious and political leader, destroyed the idols (saving the Black Stone, an ancient meteorite housed in the Káaba, or Cube, building, which has become a focal point of Muslim worship), and established Mecca as the spiritual center of Islam.

The Islamic religion has five so-called "pillars": 1) Muslims must pray five times a day; 2) Muslims must give alms, or zakat, to the poor; 3) Muslims must fast during the month of Ramadan; 4) Muslims must make the pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca; and 5) each Muslim must recite the shahada: "ashhadu an la illah ila Allah wa ashhadu an Muhammadu rasul Allah," which means, "I witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the prophet of Allah." Arabs say all their prayers facing in the direction of Mecca. Both men and women are expected, and greatly desire, to make the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year, during which Muhammad received his first revelations, is observed by complete fasting from dawn until dusk each day of the entire month.

Islam is a simple, straightforward faith with clear rules for correct living; it is a total way of life, inseparable from the rest of one's daily concerns. Therefore, religion and politics and faith and culture are one and the same for Muslims. Th ere is no such thing as the "separation of church and state." In theory, there should be no distinction between private religious values and public cultural norms in an Islamic country; in actuality, history, geography, and daily life have influenced the cultures of Islamic countries, resulting in standards of social behavior and interaction that are not always in agreement with religious codes of conduct.

MAJOR HOLIDAYS

The one secular holiday in Oman is National Day on November 18. Otherwise, all the holidays are Muslim ones. Muslim holidays follow the lunar calendar, moving back by eleven days each Western year, so their dates are not fixed on the standard Gregorian calendar. The main Muslim holidays are Eid Al-Fitr, a three-day festival at the end of Ramadan; Eid Al-Adha, a three-day feast of sacrifice at the end of the month of pilgrimage to Mecca, during which families who can afford it slaughter a lamb and share the meat with poorer Muslims; the First of Muharram, or the Muslim New Year; al-Mawlid An-Nabawi, the prophet Muhammad's birthday; and Eid Al-Isra' wa Al-Mi'raj, a feast celebrating Muhammad's nocturnal visit to heaven. Friday is the Islamic day of rest, so most businesses and services are closed on Fridays. All government offices, private businesses, and schools are closed also during Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

RITES OF PASSAGE

Omani boys are circumcised at either 15 days or 6 years of age. In the past, circumcision was performed at the age of 15 years in a ceremony involving both women and men. After the boy's foreskin was cut off, the boy had to dance around the circle of people to show his threshold for pain. Today, this practice is far less prevalent and circumcisions are often done under medical supervision in a hospital or by a midwife, or daya.

Births are an occasion for celebration, particularly if the child is a boy. Weddings are perhaps the most elaborately celebrated occasions, with great feasts and dancing. Ornate decorations for the bride are prepared well in advance. Death is also a complicated ritual that is governed by Islamic code and often adhered to very closely. A dance known as dan is the highest expression of grief in Omani culture and is a common genre in Dhofar region. A female dancer moves very slowly to the seven-unit rhythm to express her grief. The performance involves crying and lamentation.

INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS

Arab hospitality reigns in Oman. When talking, Arabs touch each other much more often, and stand much closer together, than Westerners do. People of the same sex will often hold hands while talking or walking. In earlier days, members of the opposite sex, even married couples, never touched in public; this is changing today. Arabs tend to be very expressive and talkative, often employing many hand gestures in their communication. It is not unacceptable to interrupt one another in a conversation.

LIVING CONDITIONS

Before Sultan Qaboos took over in 1970, conditions in Oman were extremely primitive. There was no electricity or running water; houses were built of either mud brick or woven and knotted palm fronds; there were only 10 km (6 mi) of paved roads, and the only means of transportation were camels and donkeys; and there were no newspapers and no television or radio stations. Since the coup in 1970, Sultan Qaboos has introduced electricity and running water to most of the country; built many new buildings of cement block (and started a booming business in cement-block production in many towns and villages); constructed about 35,400 km (about 22,000 mi) of paved roads, including multilane divided highways; and modernized communications, health care, and education, all of which are provided free of charge. In 1970 there was only one trained Omani doctor, and he practiced outside the country. In 1993, almost seven years after the opening of a faculty of medicine in the Sultan Qaboos University, 48 Omani doctors completed their training in Oman; 28 of these were women. Beginning in 1997, Oman had 80 new Omani doctors per year.

The number of Omanis practicing medicine is not sufficient to meet the needs of the population, so Omanis still depend on the services of health workers from outside the country. Today, the total number of physicians working in Oman is 3,478. A major immunization initiative introduced in the 1980s has reduced the prevalence of many diseases and has ended diphtheria, poliomyelitis, and neonatal tetanus. Trachoma and malaria remain public health problems although the number of cases has been reduced dramatically. Also, major developments in the field of genetics have made it easier to prevent congenital disorders. There has also been a campaign against marriage of close relatives, a prevalent practice that has often increases the likelihood of genetic disorders in newborns. The estimated life expectancy for Omani nationals in 2006 was 72.4 years for men and 74.1 years for women.

The first earth satellite station in Oman opened in 1975. Today, most Omani homes have access to satellite stations and can choose from hundreds of regional and global stations, both news and entertainment. Some 80% of homes are owned by their occupants. Since Omanis now own cars and trucks, the distance from the capital city of Muscat in the northeast to the city of Salalah at the other end of the country can now be crossed in one day. The same trip used to take two weeks by camel caravan.

FAMILY LIFE

Omanis are a tribal people, and family is the center of their life. Marriages are traditionally arranged by parents, with first cousins being the preferred match. The groom pays the bride a dowry, or mahr, which becomes her property no matter what happens. The mahr consists of two stages. The first stage is the muqaddam, which is a dowry given preceding the wedding to allow the bride to buy things for herself and her new home. The second stage, the muta'akhir, is a form of insurance for the woman in the event of divorce; the groom pledges in a contract that he will pay the bride an agreed-upon amount if he should divorce her. Polygamy is legal though it is rarely practiced. A man may have up to four wives, if he guarantees that all will be equally loved and cared for. Divorce is a fairly simple procedure, but it does not happen very often. In a divorce, the father is given custody of all children over the age of five, and the mother takes the younger ones with her back to her parents' house, where she will live until she remarries. Girls can be betrothed as young as 11 or 12 years of age.

A traditional Omani woman's role is domestic, while the man's is public. Men take care of all business and public transactions, even doing much of the food shopping. Women take care of the home, doing all the cooking, cleaning, and child-care. Women and children do most of the sheep, goat, and poultry herding. On farms, women do most of the work in the fields. Weaving and embroidery are also women's tasks. Al-though Oman is one of the most traditional Islamic countries, women are actually much less restricted in Oman than in other Arab nations. Today, there is a mixture of lifestyles in Oman, some of which starkly contrast with this traditional domestic labor arrangement. Increasingly, as the sultanate has experienced an economic spurt in the last decade, many Omani families rely on live-in domestic workers from south Asia and east Africa to assist with upkeep, care-giving and other domestic chores.

CLOTHING

Omani men wear the traditional dishdasha, an ankle-length robe, usually white. Sometimes they wear a bisht, a kind of cloak that is usually black with gold trim, over their dishdasha. On their heads they wear a skullcap or a turban. Many Omani men carry a camel stick, which is the length of bamboo with a curved handle, like a cane. Almost all Omani men wear a curved dagger called a khanjar through their belt. Khanjars have ornate silver handles and are an expression of traditional folk art. Most Omanis wear leather sandals on their feet.

Women in Oman wear very colorful dresses over loose-fitting pants that are gathered tightly at the ankles. Th ey wear scarves on their heads, and much jewelry everywhere. In public, most Omani women wear a black ankle-length robe called an 'abaya, and many wear a traditional Islamic veil over their heads. Some opt to wear the niqab that covers the entire face, with holes for the eyes.

FOOD

Staple foods in Oman consist of rice, dates, fruit, fish, and meat. Most meat is cooked in a tanour, a hole in the ground where a fire is built, then allowed to burn down to ashes, after which meat wrapped in leaves is placed on the ashes and the hole is covered with earth. After 24 hours, the cooked meat is dug up, unwrapped, and served. Omanis eat their meals on the floor or ground, the dishes spread on a cloth. Food and drink are always taken with the right hand. Families eat together, except on special occasions when men and women eat separately. The main meal of the day is at noon; breakfast and supper are light meals. A favorite dessert is halawa (halvah), a sweet, flaky dessert usually made of crushed sesame seeds and honey. Coffee is drunk strong and black, sometimes flavored with cardamom. Bedu (or bedouin) nomads eat the locusts that swarm over farmers' crops.

EDUCATION

Before Sultan Qaboos took over in 1970, there were only three schools in Oman, with a total of 900 students, all boys. Today, there are over 1,100 schools, with a total enrollment of 800,000 students, half of whom are girls. Until recently, girls and boys went to separate schools despite having the same educational curriculum. Education is free to all Omanis from the pre-school through postgraduate levels. Children's education goes through three stages: primary, preparatory, and secondary. Primary school begins at six years of age and continues until the child passes a sixth-grade examination. Of all children between the ages of 6 and 11, 86% attend elementary school. Those who pass the examination go on to preparatory school, which is completed after three years with another examination. Passing students then attend secondary school, where the focus of study is determined by the grade they have achieved in their preparatory-school exam. Some students attend college or technical training institutes after secondary school. The Sultan Qaboos University was inaugurated in 1980 and opened for classes in September 1986. Sixty-five percent of its more than 10,000 students are female who are enrolled in five colleges: Engineering, Medicine, Agriculture, Education, Art and Islamic Studies and Science. The literacy rate in 1995 was determined to be about 59% for those over 15 years of age. Hundreds of adult-education and literacy centers have been established to help eradicate illiteracy. A testament to the success of these programs, the current literacy rate is approximately 82%.

CULTURAL HERITAGE

The Ministry of National Heritage and Culture was established in 1976. By 2000, it had restored more than 100 historic buildings, which included forts, castles, citadels, and ancient houses. Some of these restored buildings have become tourist attractions, such as the castle at Jabrin, built in the 17th century. The Ministry has also built numerous historical museums, libraries, and cultural centers, and organized excavations of ancient remains. Excavations have uncovered pottery jars, beads, and arrowheads dating back to the 3rd millennium BC.

Music is not encouraged by the Ibadi sect of Islam. Yet, some folk music has developed in Oman, and the Oman Center for Traditional Music was founded in August 1983 to collect and document Omani folk music. It serves as a repository of video tapes, audio recordings, and pictures and slides of songs and dances handed down through generations. Folk music is played on traditional instruments, such as drums, a trumpet made out of horn, a straight pipe, and the rebaba, a stringed instrument. Sea chanteys have been sung throughout the sea-faring Omanis' history. The traditional men's sword dance has its origin in a series of military exercises. In 1985, Sultan Qa-boos established the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra and a music-training school. The school, located in Bayt al-Barakah, is a boarding school attended by both sexes. Since the advent of satellite television, much of the music scene in Oman has been influenced by popular trends from other countries in the region and English-language music.

Until recently, visual arts in Oman were mostly confined to utilitarian objects, such as kitchen utensils, rugs, ceramic pots, and clothing. However, recent artistic exhibitions have focused on contemporary Omani painters and sculptors whose works now grace many public areas in the capital Muscat.

WORK

In the fertile areas of Oman, such as the Batinah (coastal plain) and the inland valleys beneath the mountains, most people are farmers.

About 10% of Omanis are fishers in the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. Boatbuilding is an ancient craft passed down from generation to generation. Traditionally, boats were built from palm fronds, although larger ones were built from wood. These traditional boats are still used, although recently many fishers have purchased aluminum boats. Sails and oars were the means of propulsion until the past two or three decades; most boats now have motors.

Omani nomads are sheep, goat, and camel herders. Oman is the camel-breeding capital of the world.

Although most of Oman's revenue currently comes from oil, that industry employs only a few thousand Omanis. Out of a total of 730,000 laborers in the work force, only about 260,000 (36%) are Omanis; the rest are expatriates. The government has set the objective of "Omanization" of the labor force, hoping to replace foreign workers with Omani nationals.

SPORTS

Since 1970, Sultan Qaboos has increased the scope of sporting activities in the country. Sports complexes and sports clubs have been built throughout Oman. The traditional sport of camel racing is very popular, as is horse racing. Hockey was introduced into Oman from India in the 19th century and is very popular. Many Omanis enjoy marksmanship, and some have won regional or international shooting competitions. Omani national teams have also competed in the Olympic games.

ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION

Omanis enjoy plays and concerts performed by the national Youth Theater, established in 1980. Boys have joined Boy Scout groups since 1948; girls have been able to be Girl Scouts since 1970. The National Organization for Scouts and Guides, established in 1975, aims to develop in youth a sense of service, self-reliance, responsibility, and public spirit. There are 10 Scout camps in the country.

FOLK ART, CRAFTS, AND HOBBIES

All art in Oman is utilitarian and can therefore be seen as folk art. Silver-, gold-, and copper smithing are perhaps the most highly developed arts, although weaving, embroidery, and woodcarving also are highly intricate and require great skill. Pottery is also a well-developed utilitarian art.

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

Ecologically, Oman is very environmentally responsible in some ways but not in others. Although it is a very clean country, with stiff fines for littering (or even for having a dirty car), there is a great deal of coastal pollution from oil tankers dumping or leaking oil offshore, from the mining of sand to build new roads, which then encroach on wilderness territory, and from the dumping of wastes. The government is attempting to address these problems with various measures, but the problems still exist.

The once nearly extinct white oryx, an antelope, has been successfully reintroduced into the wild in Oman, but several species of sea turtles continue to be endangered by the Omani taste for turtle soup. Groundwater reserves that have existed since prehistoric times, when the climate was much wetter, are being rapidly depleted, and the dry climate of today will not provide enough rain to replenish them. The digging of wells is regulated, but not strictly enough.

Politically, the traditional sultanate structure, in which family members are given all the positions of authority and decision-making, is quickly becoming obsolete and detrimental to Oman's welfare. Many commoners are now much better educated and trained in the skills needed for government posts than members of the ruling family. Since the production of oil began in 1970, the ruling family has kept Oman's citizens quiet by giving them great benefits and subsidies. In return for this lavish treatment, citizens have not questioned the way the government is run. But those days are quickly disappearing. Oman has very limited oil reserves that are anticipated to run out soon, and the wealth will not flow so freely after that. Omanis are becoming dependent on government handouts that will have to be severely cut back once the oil runs out. Sultan Qaboos is trying to develop non-oil industries, but he has had limited success so far.

Modernization has been new to Oman, but it seems Omanis have developed a culture that is a unique amalgam of both traditional and modern social norms.

GENDER ISSUES

While the niqab (full facial covering worn by women) has been increasingly popular throughout the region, in an interesting turn in the expression of religion, Sultan Qaboos has banned the niqab by all women in public office. Furthermore, he has decreed that all women are allowed to vote and run for Majlis Al-Shura (Consultative Council) seats. In the first election of the council in 2003, two women won seats. Furthermore, Qaboos also appointed a cabinet comprised of three women ministers whose portfolios are Higher Education, Social Development, and Tourism. Also, the Omani ambassador to the United States, Hunaina bint Sultan al-Mughairyah, has become the most prominent woman in a diplomatic mission. Various projects to empower Omani woman have proven successful. The Omani Women's Association (OWA) is a very active organization that collaborates with government initiative and local grassroots groups. Notable Omani women include artist Mariyam Mohamed and writer Rafiah Altalei.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Allen, Carl. Oman Under Qaboos: From Coup to Constitution, 1970-1996, Routledge, 2002.

Bequette, France. "Environment-friendly Oman." UNESCO Courier (April 1995): 39.

Berger, Gilda. Kuwait and the Rim of Arabia. New York and London: Franklin Watts, 1978.

Dutton, Roderic. An Arab Family. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co., 1985. "The Gulf's Uneasy Rulers." World Press Review 42, no 8 (August 1995): 6-7.

Hawley, Sir Donald. Oman and its Renaissance. London: Stacey International, 1990.

Hunt, Carla. "Land of Sinbad Proves Irresistible to Some U.S. Tour Firms." Travel Weekly 54, no 103 (28 December 1995): 28.

Iskandar, Adel. The Oasis of Frankincense, Gold and Peace, Ambassadors Online Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 2, July 2000. Moss, Joyce, and George Wilson. Peoples of the World: The Middle East and North Africa. Detroit: Gale Research, 1992.

Zahlan, Rosemarie Said. The Making of the Modern Gulf States: Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. London: Unwin Hymen, 1989.

—revised by Adel Iskandar

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Omanis." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Omanis." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 13, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/omanis

"Omanis." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. . Retrieved October 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/omanis

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.