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MUSCAT, Oman The Olympic torch arrived Monday in Oman amid tight security and expectations of a smooth relay of the flame on the Middle Eastern leg of its round-the-world tour.
Officials said the flame arrived at Oman International Airport from Tanzania and was received by Omani sports minister Ali bin Masoud al-Sunaidy.
Oman, a Muslim country at the southern end of the Arabian peninsula with a booming tourism industry, has strong economic ties with China, which is a major importer of its oil.
Authorities have promised a trouble-free torch relay with a party-like atmosphere, including musical performances and traditional dances to be held along the planned 12-mile relay route throughout the streets of the capital, Muscat, and along its scenic water front.
Officials said they expect none of the protests that have marred torch relay in other countries, adding that any attempt to disrupt the parade will be severely dealt with.
Our security is tight. ... The Royal Oman Police is ready to handle any such situation, said Habib Macki, vice chairman of the Oman Olympic Committee, at a press conference this week.
Dozens of police were deployed on the streets by midday Monday, a few hours before the torch lighting ceremony was to kick off in downtown Muscat.
The Olympic flame, which began its six-continent trek from ancient Olympia in Greece on March 24, has been the focus of protests over China s human rights record with major chaos and disruptions during its stops in Paris, London and San Francisco.
However, the relays in Argentina and Tanzania were largely peaceful and without major incidents.
The turmoil over the torch relay and the growing international criticism of China s policies on Tibet and Darfour have turned the Beijing Games which begin Aug. 8 into one of the most contentious in recent history.
The torch goes to Islamabad, Pakistan, on Monday night.