The traditional view of ʿUmāni history during the past two centuries is that the country was unified under the Āl Bū Saʿīd dynasty, which was based first in Rustāq and later, with the assumption of power by Ḥamad b. Saʿīd in 1785, in Masqaṭ. The supposed shift of the capital to Masqaṭ, the country's major port, was interpreted by Lorimer as a disruptive influence in ʿUmāni politics, whereas J. B. Kelly has depicted the move as representing a change in the basis of ruling power in ʿUmān from the land to the sea. This study takes exception to these two interpretations as well as to the general assumption that Masqaṭ was the capital of a unified ʿUmān. In 1785 Ḥamad b. SaḤīd Āl Bū Saʿīdī established an independent state in Masqaṭ in a move that enabled him to profit from trade with the interior of ʿUmān, which was dependent on Masqaṭ for imported foodstuffs, textiles, metals and other raw materials, while freeing him of the tribal opposition that has traditionally plagued any ruler in ʿUmān trying to control both the interior and entrepôt. Once established in Masquaṭ, Ḥ and his successors adopted an aggressive military and political policy in the Arabian Gulf (1785–1820) and then East Africa (1820–1829) which was designed to create a commercial empire centered on Masqaṭ. A fundamental principle of this policy was the avoidance of any unnecessay involvement in the affairs of ʿUmān, which was divided among various tribal leaders.