The Sultanate of Oman occupies the south-eastern tip of the
Arabian Peninsula. Oman is bounded by sea on two sides, the Sea of Oman
to the northeast and the Indian Ocean to the southeast. The Sultanate's
landward borders are with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the west and
the Republic of Yemen to the south, while the United Arab Emirates
borders Oman to the north..
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The country is predominantly open desert consisting of
gravel plains and areas of sand dunes. The largest of these dune fields
comprise the Ramlat al Wahaybah (Wahaybah Sands) in the east and Ar Rub
al Khali (the Empty Quarter) in the west. There are also two large
mountain ranges. The northern coastline is dominated by the Al Hajar
Range (the Eastern Hajar "Al Hajar Al Gharbi" and the Western Hajar "Al
Hajar Ash Sharqi") whose highest mountains
are the Jebel Akhdar (or Green Mountains) peaks, rising to more than
3000 metres (Jebel Shams) above sea level.
This upland region is heavily
dissected by deep wadis (dry river valleys) which remain dry throughout
most of the year but can flood after winter storms.
On the northern side
of the Al Hajar Range lies a narrow fertile strip of coastal land called
the Batinah where the majority of the nation's population lives. The
southern slopes of the mountains are notable for their oasis towns where
date groves flourish in the dry desert air.
The southern province, the governorate of Dhofar is
dominated by a range of coastal mountains known as the Dhofar Mountain
Chain. The height of the Dhofar Mountain Chain helps to capture valuable
moisture during the summer monsoon season, which impacts only the
southern region. The character of the mountains in the south is quite
different to those in the north. During the summer monsoon the southern
mountains turn green with vegetation whose roots help delay the effects
of erosion resulting in a soft rolling landscape more akin to central
Africa than the Middle East. As in the north, a narrow fertile coastal
plain lies between the mountains and the sea at whose centre lies the
southern city of Salalah, surrounded by lush vegetable farms and coconut
The governorate of Musandam, projecting into the Straits of
Hormuz, the enclave of Madha and numerous islands complete a country of
great diversity of terrain and stunning natural beauty.