Sultanate of Oman is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian peninsula. For a period, Oman was a moderate regional power, formerly having a sultanate extending across the Strait of Hormuz to Iran, and modern day Pakistan, and far south to Zanzibar on the coat of south-east Africa. Over time, as its power declined, the sultanate came under heavy influence from the United Kingdom, though Oman was never formally part of the British Empire. Oman has been ruled by the Al Said dynasty since 1744, and has long-standing military and political ties with the United Kingdom, and the United States, although it maintains an independent foreign policy. Oman is an absolute monarchy which the Sultan of Oman exercises ultimate authority but its parliamen has some legislative and oversight powers. In November 2010, UNDP listed Oman, from among 135 countries worldwide, as the nation most-improved during the preceding 40 years. According to international indices, Oman is one of the most developed and stable countries in the Arab world.