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عُمان, Uman, Sultanate of Oman, Saltanat 'Uman

Last modified: 2007-07-28 by ian macdonald
Keywords: oman | sultanate of oman | swords: crossed (white) | khanjar (white) | belt (white) |
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[Oman] 4:7 image by Željko Heimer, 15 September 2002
Flag adopted 18 October 1995, emblem adopted 23 July 1985

See also:


On 25 April 1995 certain changes were introduced to the Omani national flag by virtue of a directive of the Sultan. The general appearance of the flag remains the same except that the horizontal stripes are now of equal width. The vertical stripe along the hoist is one-[fourth] of the flag's length [possibly mistaken, see construction sheets, Ed.] and the flag's proportions are now 1:2. The colours and the emblem in the canton remain unchanged.
Bruce Berry
, 23 November 1995

When the proportions of the flag were changed in 1995 from 2:3 to 1:2, the width of the vertical red stripe at hoist was also modified from 1/3rd to 1/4th of the fly [possibly mistaken, see construction sheets, Ed.]. This is confirmed by my personal observations during my stay in Oman and the middle-sized flag I bought there. Some sources keep the original and therefore too wide red stripe.
Ivan Sache
, 4 August 1998

From the Oman Ministry of Information website:

The National Flag was raised for the first time on 17th December 1970. The flag carries the Sultanate's emblem of two crossed swords with a khanjar and belt superimposed. White depicts the conviction of the Omani people in peace and prosperity. Red, which is dominant, has been adopted from the old Omani flag (which was red) and this symbolises the battles fought by Omanis for the eviction of foreign invaders from the country, and green represents fertility and greenery of the land.

Before the 25th National Day in November 1995 new regulations were introduced for the proportion of the three colours, the dimensions of the flag and the height of the poles on which it may be flown, according to the building and purpose.

Dov Gutterman, 19 March 1999

According to Album des Pavillons (2000) the new national flag was adopted in 1995, redefining the relative sizes of the coloured flag fields. Album des Pavillons (2000) gives the relative width of the hoist red field towards the fly tricolour field as 18:42, while FotW has it as 1:3, as compared with the pre-1995 1:2. The current fly stripes are all of equal width, while the old version had the stripes as 2:1:2. (...) The canton emblem is adapted from Corel Clipart, to my best knowledge rather well made.
Željko Heimer
, 21 August 2002


P. Lux-Wurm, Les drapeaux de l'Islam [lux01] messes up the description of the national emblem:

National arms: two crossed "khanjars", curved daggers with pommel and sheath inlaid with silver. (...) Between the daggers is placed the "gourith", a small traditional axe whose head is 10 cm long.
In fact, the "axe" is the curved dagger called "khanjar" or "gambar", and the "curved daggers" are swords. This is explained in Smith (1975) and Ultimate Pocketbook Flags of the World, and I can confirm the identity of the khanjar from my trip to Oman.
Ivan Sache, 8 May 2002

It seems to me that complexity of the emblem makes it rather difficult to reproduce, and it does quite differ from one representation to another.
Željko Heimer
, 21 August 2002

As far I know the emblem was slightly changed 23 July 1985. The old emblem is shown in The Flag Bulletin 10:2 and was used in the flags before 1985 (even in 1957 when the Sultan asked Wendell Philips to draw a new flag, that later was not adopted). I assume that the new rendition was used after 1985 when new flags were manufactured but I don't know any legislation that established the change.
Jaume Ollé
, 21-22 August 2002

According to Crampton 1990, p. 77:

The badge is two crossed scimitars and a dagger, known as a gambia, linked by an ornate horse bit. At first this was plain white, but in 1985 it was altered to red with white fimbriations.

Mark Sensen, 22 August 2002

I have seen such daggers for sale in several shops in Muscat, Sur and Nizwa, and they were always labelled in English "khandjar" or "khanjar", depending on the shops. Shop owners called the daggers "khanjars" (when speaking). The book Oman, le sultanat de l'Encens by Alain Chenevière also uses consistently the word "khanjar".
Ivan Sache
, 23 August 2002

The dagger characteristic of Oman, in which the scabbard has a 90 degree turn as shown on the Omani emblem is indeed a "khanjar". The "jambiyya" —which an Egyptian would pronounce "gambiyya" or "gambia"— is more typical of Yemen and the blade curves all the way back on itself so the bottom of the scabbard is almost semicircular or crescent-shaped.
Joseph McMillan
, 24 August 2002

Looking at the legislation, it mentions the crossed swords and the dagger, but is silent about the third element. The illustration which accompanied the latest version I have shows, in fact, three chain links between two elaborate end-pieces which could be either an elaborate belt or a curb chain according to your interpretation? Both Smith (1975) and Znamierowski (2000) call this object a "belt", but I have, in fact found one reference to the device being a horse bit. It occurs in a tiny little pocket book called "Collins Gem Flags" by Carol P Shaw, 1994 Edition which says "two crossed sabres feature behind a gambia, a traditional local dagger, and an elaborate horse bit appears in the foreground overall".
Christopher Southworth, 20 January 2005

Flag Variants

[Flag for Government Buildings (Oman)] 4:7      [Flag for Ceremonies (Oman)] 5:7
both images by Željko Heimer, 15 September 2002

Furthermore, Album des Pavillons 1990 [pie90] indicates three kinds of national flags:

  • the National Flag, 1:2
  • the State Flag, hoisted on official buildings, 4:7
  • the Ceremony Flag, hoisted on airports and during ceremonies, 5:7
I remember having seen in several instances flags on official buildings, usually by groups of two. I infer that one of them was 1:2 and the other one 4:7. This is only hypothetical because such proportions are nearly impossible to distinguish on flags agitated by wind and located at a quite long distance. I cannot remember having seen any flag at As-Seeb international airport.
Ivan Sache
, 4 August 1998

At the 1999 Francfort Book Fair, I saw one interesting flag on the Oman stand: usual desktop flag with bronze coat-of-arms instead of white as in FOTW drawings.
Gvido Petersons, 21 October 1999

Album des Pavillons 2000 [pay00] explains in a footnote that 4:7 flags are used for government buildings and 5:7 for airports and ceremonies.
Željko Heimer
, 21 August 2002

Mistaken variants in some flag books

Width of hoist stripe equals 1/3rd fly as in 1970-1995 flag

[Mistaken variant, width of hoist stripe equals 1/3rd fly as in 1970-1995 flag (Oman)] image by Mark Sensen and Ivan Sache, 4 August 1998

When the proportions of the flag were changed in 1995 from 2:3 to 1:2, the width of the vertical red stripe at hoist was also modified from 1/3rd to 1/4th of the fly. Some sources keep the original and therefore too wide red stripe, including Dorling Kindersley 1997 [udk97].
Ivan Sache
, 4 August 1998

Ceremonial flag with proportions 5:9

[Mistaken variant, flag for ceremonies in ratio 5:9 (Oman)] 5:9 image by Željko Heimer, 21 August 2002

Album des Pavillons 2000 [pay00] gives this ratio as 5:9, which is incorrect, resulting from a misinterpretation of the Arabic numerals in the official construction sheet: the length of 35 was interpreted as 45, the original clearly states 35, as a sum of 10 and 25.
Željko Heimer
, 15 September 2002

Civil Ensign proposal 1980s

[Civil Ensign proposal 1980s (Oman)] image by Ivan Sache, 8 May 2002

P. Lux-Wurm, Les drapeaux de l'Islam [lux01], shows as 'civil ensign' a plain red flag with the national emblem in canton. Lux-Wurm's book seems to be full of approximate, unverified, and very often utterly wrong vexillological information. In most cases, the flags shown have not been crosschecked in reference source books and other sources. I would advise to consider all flags shown in this book as 'to be confirmed elsewhere'.
Ivan Sache
, 8 May 2002

This was Whitney Smith's proposal for the civil ensign. I saw a photo —perhaps in an early Flag Bulletin [tfb]— of Smith holding an example of this flag. He may have been presenting it to the Sultan himself.
Dean McGee
, 9 May 2002

Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman

al-Jabha al-Sha'abiya li-Tahrir 'Uman, الجبهة الشعبية لتحرير عُمان

[Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman] image by Santiago Dotor, 23 February 2006

According to a German text [from Flaggenmitteilungen ?] submitted by Jaume Ollé, "the flag of the People's Front for the Liberation of Oman is striped black-white-red; in the white field the inscription: ALJABHA ALSHA'BIYAH LITAHRIR OMAN in red."
Jarig Bakker
, 11 September 1999