A reader recently asked me if I knew of any web sites to help her kids learn about Oman. There were virtually no books at my library, and it was difficult to find information suitable for kids. I took up the challenge to research more about this small country on the Arabian Peninsula. When looking at the map of the peninsula, I tell my kids that if they can imagine a boot, Oman is near the toe. Oman has such a rich history, and many people know little about this small country with a long coastline on the Arabian Sea.
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10 Fun Facts about Oman
- Oman has been the center of frankincense trade since 5000 BC! It comes from the aromatic sap from the frankencense tree, and is mentioned both in the Bible (as one of the Wise Men’s gifts), and in the legend of the Queen of Sheba.
- In the 7th Century, Islam was introduced and embraced. Most all Omanis are Muslim, and belong to their own sect called Ibadi Islam.
- Thousands of green turtles (and other species!) come onto the beaches of Oman in the late summer to lay their eggs. Less than two months later, tens of thousands of baby turtles hatch from their nesting sites and attempt to make their way into the Indian Ocean. The most famous place to watch sea turtles in Oman is the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve.
- While many of Oman’s neighbors have their economies based on petroleum, Oman also trades fish, dates, and some agricultural products like limes, bananas, alfalfa, vegetables, and animals like camels and cattle.
- Immigrants and expats make up almost half of the population in Oman! Top countries represented are Arabs from around the Middle East region, South Asians from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, and some Africans, especially from nearby East Africa.
- The top-selling beverage in Oman is…… Mountain Dew!!! But everyone also loves strong coffee.
- One tradition in Oman to greet a visitor with a bowl of dates, qahwa (special coffee with cardamom) and fruit! Omanis eat their largest meal of the day in the afternoon. This main meal usually includes a large serving of rice and a sauce made from tomato and fish or meat.
- There is virtually no crime in Oman. The country is also terrorism free!
- While young people might wear jeans and tshirts, there is traditional clothing worn by men and women in Oman. Women wear hijab and abaya, a long, black cloak worn over clothes. Some women wear burqas, while some do not cover their heads. Omani often men wear an ankle length robe called “dishdasha.”
- One of the famous pastimes of Oman is horses: racing, breeding, and caring for them! Horses symbolize integrity and pride, and Oman is famous for its pure-bred Arabian horses.
Food of Oman
One way to learn about Oman could be through cooking their delectable food. The Food of Oman: Recipes and Stories from the Gateway to Arabia, by Felicia Campbell is a new cookbook that features all of the traditional dishes from Oman, plus the author’s connections with them.
The Global Table Adventure also explored Oman cuisine for a week: her frankincense ice cream looks divine!
More Resources to Learn about Oman for Kids
The Turtle of Oman, by Naomi Shihab Nye. A young boy named Aref Al-Amri must say good-bye to everything and everyone he loves in his hometown of Muscat, Oman, as his family prepares to move to Michigan. Beautiful written imagery of Oman!