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Cities to study in Oman


Oman, also known officially as the Sultanate of Oman, is an Arab nation in southwest Asia, situated on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, comprising nearly 120,000 square miles of total geographic area.  The country shares borders to the northwest with the United Arab Emirates, to the west with Saudi Arabia, and to the southwest with Yemen, and its coastline is formed by the Arabian Sea to the southeast and the Gulf of Oman to the northeast.  Oman is an absolute monarchy, one in which the Sultan of Oman holds outright authority, although its parliament does have some legislative powers and oversight.  The capital and by far the largest city in Oman is Muscat.
 
Oman has a population of roughly 2.8 million, of whom roughly 2 million are ethnic Omanis.  Most inhabitants live in the country’s urban areas, particularly in Muscat, the nation’s capital, where roughly 50 percent of the population resides.  Another 20 percent live on the Batinah coastal plain, and smaller groups inhabit the remote regions near the Musandam Peninsula on the Strait of Hormuz.  Approximately 600,000 foreigners are counted towards Oman’s population, particularly foreign workers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, India and the Philippines.
 
Arabic is the lone official language in Oman and is spoken as a first language by nearly all of the country’s permanent residents.  It is also the language used officially in government, the courts, media, commerce and education.  English is the most popular linguistic minority and is taught in many Omani schools as a second language.  Nearly 75 percent of the population practices Ibadhi, a branch of Islam that is entirely distinct from the more widespread Sunni and Shia denominations.  Sunni Muslims account for roughly 24 percent of the population, while the remaining one percent is of the Zaydi Shi’ite sect, which is different than the Twelver Shia branch that is practiced in many neighboring Arab countries.
 
Education in Oman
 
Prior to 1970, the year Sultan Qaboos came to power, there were fewer than 1000 students receiving education in Oman.  Since that time, however, a high priority has been placed on education as a way to develop a qualified workforce, and today there are over 650,000 students receiving education at over 1000 state-operated schools.  The education system is divided between three distinct levels: basic education, secondary school and university education.
 
Basic education begins at age six in Oman and spans ten years, divided into two cycles. The first cycle covers grades 1 through 4 and the second cycle covers grades 5-10.  At basic education schools, students are initially taught reading, writing and basic count, with subjects such as mathematics, Arabic, English, science, technology, history, geography, social studies and physical education added gradually throughout each grade level.  Grades earned during the second cycle of basic education, along with scores on standardized tests, determine which type of secondary education a student will receive:  either general secondary education, which helps prepare students for university admission; or vocational education, geared towards training the less-academically successful in careers important to the Omani economy.
 
Higher education in Oman is relatively new, as the first university did not even exist until 1986.  Prior to that, those that were academically inclined were usually sent by the government to study in neighboring Arab countries such as Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.  The relatively new university now has nine colleges, each with a different academic or professional focus.  There also six colleges of applied sciences in the country, with instruction in fields such as international business administration, engineering, communications and IT.  These were formerly colleges of education, but were recently transformed to meet the demands of the current labor market.

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