National Holiday: November 18
National Day is a public holiday in Oman.
The celebration of Oman’s National Day takes place every year on November 18 as a celebration of independence from the Portuguese in 1650. National Day coincides with Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s birthday, which occurs November 19, adding additional significance to the day.
History of National Day in Oman
In 749, the tribes of Oman chose an imam, a Muslim spiritual leader, marking its first ruler after the influx of Islam into the region. While outside forces from Iran and areas applied temporary pressure to the people of Oman, the people remained relatively independent until 1507.
The Portuguese demonstrated their formidable naval tactics and superior technology to take control of the ports of Muscat and Sohar, and then rest of the coast of Oman in 1507. The Portuguese saw the ports along the coast of Oman as valuable stopping and trading points in their Indian spice trade routes.
This lucrative trading activity raised the eyes of both Britain and Dutch. Unsatisfied with the Portuguese exploitation of resources in Oman, the Al-Ya’ribi clan wooed the British East India Company in 1646. Under an agreed treaty, British merchants were guaranteed legal and religious rights while operating in the Oman’s domain, effectively weakening the influence of Portugal in the region.
On November 18, 1650, Imam Sultan Bin Saif and others led an uprising that effectively expelled Portugal from Oman and its ports. As independence has been a staple since, Oman is generally recognized as being the longest continually independent Arab state in modern history.
Oman’s National Day Traditions, Customs and Activities
Today, people celebrate both Oman’s independence from the Portuguese and the sultan’s birthday on November 18. Fireworks displays, images of the sultan, and Oman’s flag can be seen during celebrations that focus on the progress the current sultan, Qaboos bin Said, has made for the people of Oman.