From New York Times Crossword, July 27, 2015
50 Across Arabian Sea Sultanate –
Score one point if you knew the correct answer, Oman. Score two points if you knew how to find it on a map. Stop reading this if you could name the capital and the name of the Sultan. If you’re like me, geography lessons were a few decades ago, and many of the names have changed – some more than once. The nightly news flashes stories from all over with nary an instruction on proper geography. Let’s face it, poring over those atlases can make your eyes roll back in your head.
A few years ago, I stumbled across some easy to read guides on memorizing geography. These were fun to read, fun to memorize, and greatly enhanced my knowledge of the various countries. In his book, Easily Memorize the World Map – Asia, author Siddhartha Sinha offers creative mnemonics for tackling the above question. He uses mostly straight lines to draw rough approximations of the countries and groups are added sequentially, along with the memorization tips necessary.
With the Arabian Peninsula, he draws the parallelogram representing it, and starting with Saudi Arabia roughly in the middle, his mnemonic for it and the countries below it is: Say Yes & Obey Your Quick Brain — Say [Saudi Arabia] Yes [Yemen] & Obey [Oman] Your [UAE] Quick [Qatar] Brain [Bahrain] How hard was that? For more of this as well as the rest of his guides, check out his website at: http://map-of-the-whole-world.weebly.com/
Now, back to our full answer. Oman is a sultanate which means that it is ruled by a sultan – got it? Its ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, who is ruler for life, has been ruling since 1970 and is the longest-serving ruler in the Middle East. He is an absolute monarch with all that it entails, and not surprisingly, the government has come under criticism especially with its attitude towards civil liberties. It came as somewhat of surprise to me, that despite its location, Oman actually has only modest oil reserves, ranking it 25th world wide for its supply.
In spite of its intolerance of criticism, Oman actually earns considerable revenue from tourism, with its capital, Muscat, being ranked the second best city in the world to visit by Lonely Planet.