Maskate, now Muscat, on the coast of Oman, controlled access to the Persian Gulf. The town was ringed by a protective wall and guarded by three forts. The Arabs drove the Portuguese out of Maskate in 1650. The Company decided that to try and capture this strategically important town involved too great a risk. VOC ships called regularly at Maskate to trade or for safe anchorage. After 1660 the Dutch captured many Portuguese settlements along the coast of India, thereby bolstering the VOC's position on the key sea route between Persia and India. In Maskate the VOC maintained contacts with local traders in 1651 and later in 1666. The Imam of Maskate invited the Company to start a trading office in the city, but it was to take until 1672 before the base actually opened. The trade proved somewhat disappointing given that the Omanis traded the same wares as the Dutch. Only in 1672 did the VOC establish a trading post (a rented house). Just three years later the post was abandoned once more.