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Oman: State Formation and Politically Influential Groups
Country Study > Chapter 5 > Government and Politics > Qabus ibn Said: the Emergence of a Modern State > State Formation and Politically Influential Groups


The process of state formation facilitated by Oman's commercial production and export of hydrocarbon resources transformed the relationship between the ruler and the traditional political elite comprising the ruling family, established merchant families, and tribal shaykhs. While reinforcing some linkages, such as the central role of the Al Said and the political influence of the merchant families, other linkages, particularly the tribes, have diminished in importance. Society outside the capital and urban centers remains tribal, with tribal leaders exercising political authority locally. But the power of tribes as regional pressure groups declined steadily as a result of the incorporation of rural areas into the government-administered sector.

Oil revenues facilitated the transfer of some of the income from the state to society, creating a broader base. Pre-oil stratification of Omani society, wherein the ruler depended on the tribal shaykhs to ensure popular support, has partially been superseded by the establishment of a social welfare state through which the government fosters a direct relationship between the state and the individual. Government clinics, agricultural and industrial projects, schools, and employment in the public sector reinforce this new linkage.

Data as of January 1993

Last Updated: January 1993

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Oman was first published in 1993. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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