If we look back in history to the year 1602, we see that the East India Company was set up then, in accordance with a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth - I. The British Government was subsequently able to establish political offices in the Gulf region, through this Company and the Government of India. The political offices were administered by a British "Political Resident". Initially the services was administered by the Indian Post Offices in the postal department and then directly coming under the British Administration upto 1966.
During this period postal services were provided by Omanis under the supervision of British Postal Department. It was supervised from the headquarters at Britain. The opening of a post office in Muscat was in 1856. Another office was opened in Gwadur, as a dependent territory of Oman, in 1868.
In 1966, Oman Government assumed full responsibility for the administration and control of the postal service. This was followed by the progressive development of the service up to its present-day level, a full description of which is given below.
History of the beginning of the postal service
The postal service as it is today officially comprises a number of offices, specialized employees, and various means of transport, controlled by government, semi-government, and private departments, whose object is to receive and deliver postal items, including both letters and parcels.
Its present status is a natural extension of the former procedures for delivery of postal articles, before it took on an official character with the issue of the first postage stamp in the worlds (in 1840).
Before we discuss the form taken by the postal service in Oman since its official inception in 1856, in conformity with international standards, let us take a brief look at how the service was provided before that year, in the context of the Portuguese presence in the country.
Letters used to be written on paper, folded four times, and then sealed with wax on to which (normally) the royal crest would be stamped. These letters were carried by special messengers, who traveled on foot until they reached the Mediterranean sea, which they would then cross in small ships (if available, and if the winds were favorable). It would often take as long as a year for the messenger to reach the address of the letter if he was in Hormuz or Muscat, and transmission of the reply would take a further year. Moreover, many messengers would die or be killed en route.
The messenger would hide his letters amongst his provisions, in order to conceal the true nature of his mission and to prevent the message from being found if he fell prey to any attack or ambush during the journey.
Following Vasco da Gama's dicovery of the maritime route to India, with the help of the Omani navigator Ahmed bin Majid (who was a sailor and explorer with wide experience of India and East Africa), the journey from Portugal to Hormuz, Muscat and India became somewhat easier, and messengers were able to travel by sea. However, journeys still took about six months and, once the messenger reached land, he had to use horses, donkeys, camels, or oxen to deliver his letters, or to travel on foot. The letters were placed in special protective boxes during such journeys.
In addition to written letters, important messages were carried verbally by the messengers between the King of Portugal and his representative abroad, lest the messages should be intercepted and their contents revealed en route.
This was how the postal service was operated in the Sultanate Of Oman until the time when it took on an official character in 1856 with the opening of the first post office in Muscat. However, researchers into the origins of the postal service in Oman have not been able to locate any documents authenticating the beginning of the service at this date. what has been located is an official document at the Postal Museum in Delhi, India, recording 1st May 1864 as the date on which the first post office was opened in Oman. According to this document, therefore, the postal service began at a later date, but this doesn't rule out the theory that the service in fact began in 1856.
The stamps used at this office were Indian stamps, without any overprinting, and these continued to be used until 19th December 1947. From 20th December 1947, Indian stamps were used with the word "Pakistan" overprinted on them, following the transfer of the postal service to Pakistani administration: these were used until 31st March 1948, when the British General Post Office (G.P.O) took over responsibility for postal agencies abroad. From 1st April 1948, British stamps were used with the value overprinted, and continued to be used until 29th April 1966.
With effect from 30th April 1966, Oman's postal service was taken over by Oman government, and the first set of Omani postage stamps was issued depicting the port of Muscat, the great forts, and the national crest. The stamps bore the inscription "Sultanate of Oman" was then adopted in accordance with the announcement by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos that the name of the country was to be changed from "Muscat and Oman" to the "Sultanate Of Oman" (on 9th August 1970).
The cancellation of stamp(Postmark) played an important role in the historical period, generally of the Gulf area to signify the place and time at which the stamps were used. Post offices in the Sultanate of Oman developed over this period: where there had only been one post office in Muscat to serve the whole country up to 1970, new offices began to be opened in different parts of the Sultanate, incorporating the latest architectural styles and technical procedures and by the end of 1998 the number of post offices were reached to(98) with (347) postal agencies. By the end of 1998, the total number of private post Boxes were (55665) as well as (508) letter posting boxes.
Development of the postal service has still not halted to this extent. A fleet of vehicles has been purchased especially to transport postal items between the Wilayats and Muscat the capital, with a view to provide the most rapid means possible for this essential service. Mobile post offices have also been set up in heavily populated areas.
Many private post-boxes have been established at post offices, as a service to the citizens and expatriates. In 1984, the Sultanate's postal service inaugurated a new automatic sorting system, to meet the continuously increasing volume of postal turnover.