State formation in Oman 1861-1970.
The main hypothesis of this study is that in the period from the 1860s to the 1960s the
politics and decision-making of the Omani state were influenced by four forces, namely the
British, the merchants, the tribal leaders and the ulama. The arguments relate only to the
Sultanate of Oman, since no reliable data are available for the Imamate of Oman.
During the second half of the seventeenth century the Omani state entered its imperial
age, which lasted until the middle of the nineteenth century. The Ya'ariba dynasty, which was
the first ruling family in that age, was similar to the states described by Ibn Khaldun. This was
followed by the rise of the Al Bu Said dynasty. The imperial age lasted until the collapse of
the Omani empire in 1861.
The main finding of this study are first that the British role was the most prominent in
the formation of the post-imperial Omani state, while these of the merchants, the tribal leaders
and the ulama were mostly indirect or minimal. Secondly, the study found that, in addition to
the tribal conflict, the period between 1861 and the 1950s was dominated by two other forms
of social struggle, namely conflict between the merchants and the peasants, and tensions in
the fragile alliance between the tribal and religious leaders. Thirdly, the several types of
external subsidy, which Oman started to receive after] 861, laid the foundation of the rentier
state in Oman, much earlier than the oil era. Fourthly, the political division of Oman, which
resulted from the Treaty of Sib of 1920, never led to the emergence of two independent states.
The situation, which prevailed between 1920 and 1955, was to a large extent one of one state
with two systems.
It is hoped that, in addition to its contribution to the study of the history and
international relations of Oman, this study will provide students of political economy with a
better understanding of the nature of the Omani state as one of the oldest states in the Arab