National Day is a major public holiday in Oman that gives people an opportunity to celebrate Oman’s history and independence from Portugal.
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National Day is celebrated by the Omani people on 18 November each year. It precedes the birthday of Sultan Qaboo bin Said on 19 November. Because of this, November is one of the most important times of the year in Oman. For most of Oman’s citizens, National Day is a time of patriotism and historical reflection.
Oman became an independent state in 749 CE after the Omani tribes united and selected a Muslim leader. Oman remained an isolated Islamic state until European powers entered the Middle East. In the early years of the 16th century, Portuguese imperialists attacked Oman in an effort to expand their economic empire. A short war broke out between Oman and Portugal, but the Omani forces were quickly defeated by Portugal’s superior naval and ground forces.
In 1507 CE the Portuguese navy seized several major ports and strategic locations in Oman. With no other options, Oman surrendered to the Portuguese invaders. While under Portuguese control, Oman’s ports were used to expand Portugal’s spice operations from India and other areas of East Asia.
After perceiving the growing threat of Portuguese power, the British and Dutch decided to work with the Omani government. In an effort to undermine Portugal’s economic gains from operating in Oman, British companies began to use Oman’s ports for trading. In 1646, the British East India Company was granted exemptions from many Omani laws. With the support of the British Empire, the Omani military launched an offensive campaign against Portuguese forces in Oman’s coastal regions. By 1650 CE, the Portuguese forces were defeated, and Oman regained its independence.