Oman is a monarchy that has been independent since the expulsion of the Portuguese in 1650. Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who overthrew his father in a coup, has ruled the country by royal decree since 1970. After assuming power, Sultan Qaboos used oil revenues to institute ambitious plans to modernize the country and improve its infrastructure, health services, and educational system. Women took an active role in the process and were visible participants in various fi elds within the private and public sectors. However, Oman's relatively small job market became virtually saturated in the 1980s, leading to more starkly defined gender roles and setting back some of the progress previously achieved. As a result, women's representation
in the labor force decreased from 17.1 percent in 1980 to 14.2 percent in 1990.