Muscat is the capital of Oman. It is also the seat of government and largest city in the Governorate of Muscat. According to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), the total population of Muscat Governorate reached 1.2 million as of April 2014. The metropolitan area spans approximately 3,500 km2 (1,400 sq mi) and includes six provinces called wilayats. Known since the early 1st century CE as an important trading port between the west and the east, Muscat was ruled by various indigenous tribes as well as foreign powers such as the Persians, Portuguese Empire and the Ottoman Empire at various points in its history. A regional military power in the 18th century, Muscat's influence extended as far as East Africa and Zanzibar. As an important port-town in the Gulf of Oman, Muscat attracted foreign tradesmen and settlers such as the Persians, the Balochs and Gujaratis. Since the ascension of Qaboos bin Said as Sultan of Oman in 1970, Muscat has experienced rapid infrastructural development that has led to the growth of a vibrant economy and a multi-ethnic society. The rocky Western Al Hajar Mountains dominate the landscape of Muscat. The city lies on the Arabian Sea along the Gulf of Oman and is in the proximity of the strategic Straits of Hormuz. Low-lying white buildings typify most of Muscat's urban landscape, while the port-district of Muttrah, with its corniche and harbour, form the north-eastern periphery of the city. Muscat's economy is dominated by trade, petroleum and porting .
Muscat's economy, like that of Oman, is dominated by trade. The more traditional exports of the city included dates, mother of pearl, and fish. Many of the souks of Muttrah sell these items and traditional Omani artefacts. Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) has been central to Muscat's economy since at least 1962 and is the country's second largest employer, after the government. PDO's major shareholders include Royal Dutch/Shell, Total, and Partex and its production is estimated to be about 720,000 barrels per day (114,000 m3/d). Muscat also has major trading companies such as Suhail Bahwan Group, which is a trading partner for corporations such as Toshiba, Subaru, Seiko, Hewlett Packard, General Motors, RAK Ceramics; Saud Bahwan Group whose trading partners are Toyota, Daihatsu,KIA and Hertz Rent-a-Car; Zubair Automotive whose trading partners include Mitsubishi, and Chrysler brands such as Dodge; and Moosa AbdulRahman Hassan which operates as one of the oldest automotive agencies in the entire region being established in 1927. The private Health Care sector of Muscat,Oman has numerous hospitals and clinics. The Muscat Securities Market is the principal stock exchange of Oman. It is located in Central Business District of Muscat and it was established in 1988, and has since distinguished itself as a pioneer among its regional peers in terms of transparency and disclosure regulations and requirements. Mina'a Sultan Qaboos, Muscat's main trading port, is a trading hub between the Persian Gulf, the Indian subcontinent and the Far East with an annual volume of about 1.6 million tons. However, the emergence of the Jebel Ali Free Zone in neighboring Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has made that port the premier maritime trading port of the region with about 44 million tons traded in cargo annually. Many infrastructural facilities are owned and operated by the government of Oman. Omantel is the major telecommunications organization in Oman and provides local, long-distance and international dialing facilities and operates as the country's only ISP. Recent liberalization of the mobile telephone market has seen the establishment of a second provider — Nawras.
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