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Muscat

The Sultanate of Muscat and Oman (or only Muscat – after its capital and the biggest and most important town) was a former name of the Sultanate of Oman, an independent Arab sultanate on the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula. The sultanate consists of two distinct regions - the interior, known as Oman, and the coastal area dominated by the capital, Muscat. There is some confusion in using names Muscat & Oman. Strictly speaking, historically, Oman was a name only for the interior region which was never under a centralized authority, with various local tribes competing against each other and never fully accepting any superior authority. Imam of Oman, elected religious leader, carried out some authority in this area. Muscat, the coastal region and the port Muscat, was ruled by the Sultan of Muscat. The united country was called Muscat & Oman in the 1960’s, but inner differences led to a civil war between the Sultan of Muscat and rebel supporters of the Imam of Oman during 1960’s & 1970’s. The sultan forces with important help from the British defeated the rebels. In 1970, the name of the country was changed to Sultanate of Oman.

Muscat was an important regional power under the rule of the Al-Busaid dynasty in the first half of the 19th Century – it controlled a large empire (often called Omani empire) including coastal areas of Iran & Pakistan, northern & eastern areas of the Arabian Peninsula and coastal areas of east Africa from Somalia in the north as far as Zanzibar and the Comoros in the south. This large empire quickly declined in the second half of the 19th Century due to never-ending internal conflicts (Zanzibar became an independent sultanate in 1856), economical decline and the pressure of European powers. Nevertheless Oman never completely lost its independence although it was under the influence of the British, especially after the 1891 Anglo-Omani treaty. The last overseas possession, the port of Gwadar, was ceded to Pakistan in 1958.

The Indian post office at Muscat was opened on 1 May 1864. Stamps of India were used till 20 November 1944, when 15 postage stamps and 10 official stamps of India overprinted with an Arab text commemorating the Bicentenary of al-Busaid Dynasty were issued. These stamps were withdrawn from sale on 1 January 1945. Then, again stamps of India that were withdrawn while the commemorative issue was on sale were used till December 1947. Between December 1947 and 31 March 1948 stamps of Pakistan were used, subsequently stamps of the British Postal Agencies in Eastern Arabia were used untill 29 April 1966 when stamps of Muscat and Oman were introduced.

The decision to overprint stamps of India was a result of a compromise between the Sultan Said bin Taimur and the British Postal Authorities. Several proposals were considered (Muscat overprints on stamps of India, special pictorial issue with the views of Muscat, overprints on Al Busaid issue of Zanzibar, stamps with the King’s portrait and indications for use in Muscat) but because of political and financial reasons the sultan’s proposal of stamps of Indian to be overprinted ‘Al Busaid 1363’ in Arabic was selected. The date of issue, 20 November, was chosen because it marked the anniversary of the accession of the Sultan Said bin Sultan, the most famous ruler of the Al Busaid dynasty.

The Al Busaid dynasty, one of the oldest surviving royal dynasties in Arabia, was founded by Ahmad bin Said. He was a chief of the Al Said clan and the leader of a revolt against the Persian rule in Muscat and was elected imam following the expulsion of the Persians in 1744.


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