The Sultanate of Oman has maintained its independence under its Imams, Saiyids and Sultans since the early days of Islam. At given periods it was subject to attack by Persians, Portuguese and Turks. But although the coastal areas had to be ceded for long periods of time, the Imams were able to continue the struggle from the interior.
The Portuguese were finally expelled from Muscat in 1649 by the Imam Sultan bin Saif. Omani ships ranged the Indian Ocean and carried an important part of the trade between the Gulf, India and East Africa. The Omanis eventually took Mombasa and other east African territories from the Portuguese and became Rulers of Zanzibar.
The Omani-British Treaty of Friendship signed in 1800
In 1798 Napoleon occupied Egypt and clearly had designs on the East. This led the British to send a mission to Muscat in 1800 and in the Treaty made in that year it was agreed that “an English gentleman of respectability” should always reside in the port of Muscat and that friendship between the two countries should “endure till the end of time of the sun and moon cease in their revolving careers.”
Few of the envoys sent could withstand the climatic and health conditions of those days and it was not until 1861 that a permanent Consulate and Political Agency was established. The archives were erratically kept for the first few years but from 1867 they were meticulously preserved.
Records of the British Consulate, Muscat 1867-1947
Until 1947 the Consuls and Political Agents were members of the Indian Political Service and reported through the British Resident in Bushire, and later Bahrain, to the Government of India. In 1947 India became independent and the Foreign Office in London took over diplomatic relations with the Sultanate.