Economy: Oman was acutely underdeveloped until the discovery of oil and natural gas in the early 1970s; this now accounts for over 40 per cent of GDP and 80 per cent of the country’s export earnings. Agriculture, owing to Oman’s desert land, is confined to the coastal plain and a few irrigated areas in the interior. Dates, limes and alfalfa are the main products; some livestock is also bred. There are mineral deposits of copper, chromite, marble, gypsum and limestone, manganese ore and coal. The Government has used some of its oil revenues to develop indigenous industries such as construction, agriculture and tourism, and to build up the country’s infrastructure; these projects are incorporated in the Vision 2020 economic development programme. In the late 1990s, Oman started to privatise major government-owned parts of the economy and introduce a legislative framework to encourage foreign investment. The economy has been growing at around 4 per cent annually and enjoys low inflation and unemployment. Oman is a member of various pan-Arab political and economic organisations. However, it is not a member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) – although its pricing policy tends to follow that of OPEC fairly closely. Oman’s principal trading partners are Japan, Korea (Rep), Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
Business: Men should wear suits and ties for business and formal occasions. English is usually spoken in business circles, but a few words or phrases of Arabic will be useful and welcome. Appointments are essential and punctuality is gradually becoming more important in business circles. Visiting cards are widely used. Office hours: Sat-Wed 0800-1300 and 1600-1900, Thurs 0800-1300. Government office hours: Sat-Wed 0730-1430, and sometimes half-day Thursday. All offices are closed Friday. Office hours are shorter during Ramadan.