Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Oman travel guide - Travel S helper

Oman

travel guide

Oman, formally the Sultanate of Oman, is an Arab nation on the Arabian Peninsula’s southeastern coast. The country is bordered to the northwest by the United Arab Emirates, to the west by Saudi Arabia, and to the south and southwest by Yemen, and it has maritime borders with Iran and Pakistan. The Arabian Sea on the southeast and the Gulf of Oman on the northeast constitute the shore. The UAE surrounds the Madha and Musandam exclaves on all sides, with the Strait of Hormuz (which it shares with Iran) and the Gulf of Oman defining Musandam’s coastline limits.

The Omani Sultanate was a strong kingdom that competed with Portugal and Britain for dominance in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean beginning in the late 17th century. Omani influence or dominance reached its apex in the nineteenth century, extending over the Strait of Hormuz to modern-day Iran and Pakistan, and as far south as Zanzibar (today part of Tanzania, also former capital). As the sultanate’s authority fell in the twentieth century, it came under the control of the United Kingdom. Muscat was formerly the Persian Gulf region’s main commercial port. Muscat was also one of the most significant Indian Ocean trade ports. The official religion of Oman is Islam.

Oman is ruled by an absolute monarchy. Since 1970, the Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said has been the country’s hereditary ruler. Sultan Qaboos is the Middle East’s longest-serving current king and the world’s sixth-longest reigning monarch.

Oman has little oil reserves, ranked 25th in the world. Nonetheless, the UNDP rated Oman as the world’s most improved country in terms of development during the previous 40 years in 2010. Tourism and the trading of fish, dates, and some agricultural products account for a significant part of its economy. This distinguishes it from its neighbors’ purely oil-dependent economies. According to the Global Peace Index, Oman is classified as a high-income economy and the 74th most peaceful nation in the world.

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Oman - Info Card

Population

4,520,471

Currency

Omani rial (OMR)

Time zone

UTC+4 (GST)

Area

309,500 km2 (119,500 sq mi)

Calling code

+968

Official language

Arabic

Oman | Introduction

Tourism in Oman

Oman was an underdeveloped country until Sultan Qaboos bin Said exiled the previous Sultan in 1970. It was nearly entirely closed to outsiders and heavily controlled by the British, although never being formally conquered. Education, public infrastructure, and tourism have all exploded in Oman since Qaboos’ ascension.

Omanis are a welcoming people that go out of their way to assist tourists. Tourists, on the other hand, should respect Omani customs and traditions.

Omanis are proud of their country’s fast development as well as its history as a renowned maritime nation. This formerly reclusive and secluded country now has excellent schools and hospitals, as well as strong government and ongoing infrastructural upgrades.

Oman’s tourism industry has lately expanded significantly, and it is projected to become one of the country’s biggest businesses.

Oman offers one of the most varied settings in the Middle East, with a wide range of tourist attractions, and is especially renowned for cultural tourism. Muscat has been named the 2012 Arab Tourism Capital.

Geography Of Oman

Oman is located between 16° and 28° north latitude and 52° and 60° east longitude. Most of central Oman is covered by a large gravel desert plain, with mountain ranges in the north (Al Hajar Mountains) and southeast coast (Qara or Dhofar Mountains), which are also home to the country’s major cities: Muscat, Sohar, and Sur in the north, and Salalah in the south. The interior of Oman has a hot and dry climate, whereas the coast has a humid environment. Oman was covered by ocean in previous epochs, as shown by the vast quantity of fossilized shells found in regions of the desert distant from the current shoreline.

The United Arab Emirates isolate the Musandam (Musandem) exclave from the rest of Oman due to its strategic position on the Strait of Hormuz. Dibba is a collection of tiny settlements that serve as a land and sea entrance to the Musandam peninsula, with boats available for rent at Khasab for excursions into the Musandam peninsula.

Madha, Oman’s second exclave situated halfway between the Musandam Peninsula and the rest of the country, is part of the Musandam governorate and covers about 75 km2 (29 sq mi). The north-east corner of Madha is just 10 meters (32.8 feet) from the Fujairah road, which was populated in 1969. A UAE enclave named Nahwa, which belongs to the Emirate of Sharjah, is located inside the Madha exclave. Approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) west of New Madha, along a gravel road, there are about forty homes, a clinic, and a telephone exchange. Oman’s middle desert is a major source of meteorites for scientific study.

Climate In Oman

Oman, like the rest of the Persian Gulf, has one of the world’s warmest climates, with summer temperatures ranging from 30 °C (86.0 °F) to 40 °C (104.0 °F) in Muscat and northern Oman. Oman has a dry climate, with annual rainfall in Muscat averaging 100 mm (3.9 in), with the majority of it falling in January. The Dhofar Mountains region near Salalah has a tropical-like climate and gets seasonal rainfall as a consequence of monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean from late June to late September, leaving the summer air saturated with chilly moisture and thick fog. Salalah’s summer temperatures vary from 20 °C (68.0 °F) to 30 °C (86.0 °F), which is cool compared to the rest of Oman.

Rainfall is more in mountainous regions, with yearly rainfall in the Jabal Akhdar likely exceeding 400 mm (15.7 in). Once every few years, low temperatures in mountainous regions result in snow cover. Some sections of the coast, especially those near the island of Masirah, get no rain at all throughout the year. The climate is usually extremely hot, with temperatures peaking at about 50 degrees Celsius (122.0 degrees Fahrenheit) in the hot season, which runs from May through September.

Demographics Of Oman

Oman has a population of approximately 4 million people, including 2.23 million Omani citizens and 1.76 million expats as of 2014. In 2011, the overall fertility rate was projected to be 3.70. Oman’s population is extremely youthful, with 43% of the population under the age of 15. Muscat and the Batinah coastal plain northwest of the city are home to almost half of the population. Omani ethnic groups include Arabs, Baluchis, South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, and Bangladeshis), and Africans.

Omani culture is primarily tribal, with three distinct identities: tribal identity, Ibadi religion, and maritime commerce. The first two identities are deeply rooted in tradition and, as a result of long periods of isolation, are particularly prominent in the country’s interior. Business, commerce, and the varied backgrounds of many Omanis, who trace their ancestry to Baloch, Al-Lawatia, Persia, and ancient Omani Zanzibar, represent the third identity, which is mostly focused on Muscat and the coastal regions of Oman. As a result, the third identity is typically regarded as more open and accepting of outsiders, which contrasts with the interior’s more conventional and insular identities.

Religion In Oman

Islam (official; majority Ibadhi, with minorities of Sunni and Shia) 85.9%, Christian 6.5 percent, Hindu 5.5 percent, Buddhist 0.8 percent, Jewish 0.1 percent, Other 1%, Unaffiliated 0.2 percent

The Sultanate of Oman does not maintain religious data, although almost all Omanis are Muslims, with three quarters adhering to the Ibadi School of Islam, which is quite similar to mainstream Islam. It is the sole surviving manifestation of Kharijism, which sprang from one of the religion’s first schisms. Ibadi has long been regarded as one of the most important Omani religious groups, and the Sultan himself is an Ibadi.

In Oman, almost all non-Muslims are foreign employees. Jains, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Baha’is, Hindus, and Christians are among the non-Muslim religious communities. The main metropolitan centers of Muscat, Sohar, and Salalah are home to Christian populations. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and different Protestant congregations, organized along language and ethnic lines, are among them. In the Muscat metropolitan region, migrant laborers from Southeast Asia have established more than 50 distinct Christian organizations, fellowships, and assemblies.

There are also Hindu and Christian groups of ethnic Indians. There are two Hindu temples in Muscat. One of them is more than a century old. In Oman, there is a sizable Sikh population. Although there are no permanent gurdwaras, the government recognizes numerous tiny gurdwaras in temporary camps. The Indian government struck an agreement with the Omani government in 2008 to construct a permanent gurdwara, but no progress has been achieved.

Language In Oman

Although Arabic is the official language, most Omanis speak decent to outstanding English, especially in tourist regions and cities. A Semitic language known as “Jibbali” is spoken in the southern Dhofar area. Ethnic communities in Oman speak Swahili and Baluchi, particularly in Muscat, the capital. Malayalam has become a popular language due to the high number of Malayalee expats from the Indian state of Kerala. Because of the historical presence of Indian merchants, Hindi is spoken in certain urban areas. Unless a traveler is really “off the beaten track,” an English-speaking traveler should have no linguistic problems.

Flora and fauna In Oman

Oman has desert shrubs and grasses, which are widespread in southern Arabia, but vegetation is scarce in the central plateau, which is mostly gravel desert. The higher monsoon rainfall in Dhofar and the highlands makes summer growth more lush; coconut trees abound in the coastal plains of Dhofar, while frankincense is grown in the hills, along with oleander and acacia types. The Al Hajar Mountains are a unique ecoregion in eastern Arabia, including animals such as the Arabian tahr.

Leopards, hyenas, foxes, wolves, hares, oryx, and ibex are among the native animals. Vultures, eagles, storks, bustards, Arabian partridges, bee eaters, falcons, and sunbirds are among the birds. Oman has nine endangered mammalian species, five endangered avian species, and nineteen vulnerable plant species in 2001. The Arabian leopard, Arabian oryx, mountain gazelle, goitered gazelle, Arabian tahr, green sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, and olive ridley turtle have all been protected by decrees. Due to the government’s decision to limit the property to 10% of its original area so that the remainder may be opened to oil prospectors, the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary is the only site ever to be removed off UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The highly endangered Arabian humpback whale, the world’s most isolated and only non-migratory population, sperm whales, and pygmy blue whales have all been seen off the coast of Oman in recent years.

Environmental issues

With limited renewable water resources, drought and low rainfall contribute to water shortages in Oman. Maintaining a sufficient quantity of water for agricultural and household usage is one of the country’s most urgent environmental issues. The bulk of accessible water is derived from fossil water in arid regions and spring water in hills and mountains, with 94 percent utilized for agricultural and 2% for industrial activities.

Throughout Oman, piped or supplied drinking water is accessible. Due to over-exploitation of ground water and invasion by saltwater in the water table, the soil in coastal plains such as Salalah has risen in salinity. Oil tanker traffic via the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman continues to pollute beaches and other coastal regions.

Animal cruelty has been reported in Oman by local and national organizations. Stray dogs (and to a lesser degree, stray cats) are particularly vulnerable to torture, abuse, and neglect. Currently, the only way authorized for reducing the stray dog population is for police personnel to kill them. Dogs are often stoned or beaten to death by neighborhood teenagers or adults due to Islamic aversions to them. The government of Oman has declined to develop a spay and neuter program or establish any animal shelters. While cats are considered more acceptable than dogs, they are nonetheless considered pests and often die of hunger or disease.

Economy Of Oman

The “national economy is founded on fairness and the principles of a free economy,” according to Article 11 of Oman’s Basic Statute of the State. Oman’s economy is rather diverse by regional standards, although it remains reliant on oil exports. In Oman, tourism is the fastest-growing sector. Agriculture and industry, which account for less than 1% of the country’s exports, are the only other sources of revenue, although the government sees diversification as a priority. Dates, limes, cereals, and vegetables are produced through subsistence agriculture, but with less than 1% of the nation under cultivation, Oman is expected to remain a net importer of food.

Since the oil price collapse in 1998, Oman has taken active efforts to diversify its economy and is focusing more on other industries, such as tourism and infrastructure. Metkore Alloys plans to spend $80 million in Oman to construct a world-class ferro-chrome smelter with a capacity of 1,650,000 tonnes per year.

A free-trade agreement with the United States went into effect on January 1, 2009, removing tariffs on all consumer and industrial goods while also providing robust safeguards for foreign companies operating in Oman. Tourism, which is another source of income for Oman, is on the increase. The Khareef Festival, which takes place in Salalah, Dhofar, 1,200 kilometers from Muscat, during the monsoon season (August) and is comparable to the Muscat Festival, is a popular event. The mountains around Salalah are popular with visitors during this event because of the cool temperature and abundant vegetation, which can be seen nowhere else in Oman.

Foreign workers in Oman transfer an estimated $30 billion to their home countries in Asia and Africa each year, with more than half of them earning less than $400 per month. The biggest foreign population in Oman is from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka, as well as Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Punjab, which account for more than half of the country’s workforce. Salaries for foreign employees are reported to be lower than for Omani citizens, but they are still two to five times greater than in India.

Shinas and Hormouz, two diesel-powered high-speed automobile ferries, are maintained by the Oman Ferries Company. The ferries transport passengers between Muscat and Khasab. Oman controls Khasab, which is strategically situated in Musandam on the southern point of the Strait of Hormuz. Musandam is separated from mainland Oman by a tiny stretch of UAE territory.

Oil and gas

Oman’s proven petroleum reserves are about 5.5 billion barrels, making it the world’s 25th biggest. Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) extracts and processes oil, with known oil reserves remaining relatively stable despite decreasing oil output. All oil and gas infrastructure and projects in Oman are overseen by the Ministry of Oil and Gas. Between 1979 and 1985, Oman quadrupled its oil production in response to the energy crises of the 1970s.

Production dropped by more than 26% between 2000 and 2007, from 972,000 to 714,800 barrels per day. In 2009, production increased to 816,000 barrels per day, and in 2012, it increased to 930,000 barrels per day. Oman’s natural gas reserves are estimated to be 849.5 billion cubic meters, putting it in 28th place in the globe, while annual output was about 24 billion cubic meters in 2008.

Entry Requirements For Oman

Visa & Passport

Citizens of the following countries may acquire a single entry visa upon arrival at any air, land, or sea terminal:

Citizens of the European Union and other Europeans, including nationals of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, and the Vatican City, but not of Cyprus and Malta.

Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, China, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Moldova, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Suriname, Taiwan, Thailand, USA, Uruguay, Venezuela.

The cost for a 10-day tourist visa is OMR5 (but at MCT airport, you need to get the visa from the money changers which add a OMR1 commission). For OMR20, a 30-day visa is also available. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your arrival date. Any visa costs may be paid in UAE dirhams at a ten to one exchange rate. Visa costs may be paid at the airports in any Gulf Cooperation Council currency, euros, or US dollars.

Oman and the Emirate of Dubai share a visa facility. If you pass Dubai immigration and are given a visa to stay in Dubai for at least three weeks, you will be eligible for a free three-week visa to Oman. The Omani immigration officials will want you to show them your Dubai passport stamp. Private companies sell visas at certain ports of entry, and these individuals may not be aware of this and may attempt to persuade you that you need to purchase a visa from them. It may be tough to get past these individuals if this is your first visit to that specific port of entry. If you reach an immigration officer, they will be aware of the visa fee waiver and will allow you to enter without paying. The following nations benefit from this kind of visa:Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Britain , Sweden, Greece, Austria , Ireland , Finland, Germany , Iceland, Belgium , Norway, The Netherlands , Denmark, South Korea ,Japan, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Hong kong, Luxembourg, Vatican, Monaco, Andorra, San Marino.

Note that this program only applies to the Emirate of Dubai and not to the other UAE emirates; if you enter the UAE via Abu Dhabi or elsewhere, your UAE visa will be issued by another emirate, and although you will be able to travel inside the UAE and to Dubai, the Omani visa cost will not be cancelled.

Chinese, Russian, and Ukrainian citizens may apply for visit visas using the same processes if they are part of a tourist group coming in the Sultanate through a local tourist agency, a hotel, or as a family. The number of females in a group must not exceed the number of men.

Egypt, Iran, India, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia citizens may only apply for a one-month visit visa at airports.

By presenting your passport to the Royal Omani Police in Muscat, you may extend your visa for another month; however, there is only one line, and the wait can take up to two hours. Be aware that in the Middle East, the notion of personal distance differs from that in Europe. Unless you abandon the notion of personal distance, queue jumping may be an issue for Europeans. Consider visiting the United Arab Emirates if you’re on a tight budget and need to extend your visa. OMR10-12 return buses are available. Air Arabia’s same-day round-trip flight to Sharjah costs about OMR50. A taxi would also be an option. Nationals of GCC member nations do not need a visa, and residents of GCC member states, regardless of nationality, will be given a short stay visa on arrival.

For a cost of OMR 5, GCC expat residents are given a visit visa valid for up to 4 weeks (extendable by 1 week).

Entry with Israeli stamps is not an issue, however Israeli passports are not accepted in Oman.

Customs

Bringing weapons, drugs, or pornographic materials into Oman is banned. Non-Muslims are only allowed to enter the country with two litres of alcohol via Muscat International Airport. At land border crossings, you are not permitted to carry alcohol into the nation in private vehicles.

How To Travel To Oman

Get In - By plane

Almost every international aircraft lands at Muscat (Seeb) International Airport (MCT). Salalah also has a limited number of regional international flights (SLL). Obtaining a visa on arrival in Salalah may be problematic due to the airport’s tiny size and immigration officers’ lack of change for bigger bills.

Several airlines provide scheduled flights, including Oman Air, Emirates, Gulf Air, Etihad, British Airways, Kuwait Airways, Saudi Arabian Airways, and KLM. Swiss International, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Air India, Air France, and Thai Airways International are among the airlines that fly internationally. The most common connections are via Dubai (DXB).

Airlines such as Air India, Indian, and Jet Airways provide direct flights from a number of Indian locations.

Get In - By boat

Cruise ships dock at Muscat’s port, although there are no regular passenger services to Oman. More cruise ships (usually smaller ones) are making port calls, which is progressively altering the situation.

Get In - By car

There are many border crossings between the UAE and Oman, some of which are mentioned below:

  • Hatta border at Wadi Hatta and Al-Wajajah (As of December 2015 this crossing can only be used by GCC Nationals)
  • Wadi Jizzi between Sohar and Buraimi,
  • Jebel Hafret leading to Ibri and Nizwa,
  • Khatmat Milahah from Fujairah
  • from Ras al Khaimah emirate to Bukha/Musadam
  • from Fujeirah emirate to Dibba/Musadam.
  • Al Ain (Abu Dhabi) 3 border posts, 1 Khatam Al Shukla (Khattm Al Shiklah) street border post (serving expatriates)

Driving directions and border crossing from Abu Dhabi to Muscat – There are three border posts in Al Ain for Abu Dhabi residents crossing into Oman: Buraimi Border post (reserved exclusively for GCC Nationals), Hilli Border post (also exclusively for GCC Nationals), and Khatam Al Shukla street border post (serving expatriates, you will not find any traffic signal in the city indicating the direction of the border).

The roads are good, and crossing the border is simple. Don’t forget to carry some cash with you since you’ll need it to pay for the visa to enter Oman and to fill your vehicle, as it seems that many gas stations don’t accept credit cards. If you’re driving a car into Oman from the UAE, you’ll need to provide proof that the vehicle is insured in Oman at the border. While leaving the UAE by vehicle, there is an AED35 departure fee, and when leaving Oman by road, there is an OMR2 charge.

Weekends and public holidays are particularly crowded at the different UAE-Oman crossings, as residents and tourists travel into Oman for tourism and visa runs. Taking the train throughout the week (Sunday to Thursday) can help you escape the throng.

Also, double-check that your passport has the appropriate entrance and departure stamps. Although it should go without saying, some border officers will overlook a step in the process, causing administrative headaches afterwards. Furthermore, traveling from Oman to the UAE is frequently a tumultuous process, making it simpler than one would think to miss the crucial stamp.

Crossing from Oman to Yemen is far more difficult, and individuals with a sense of adventure should familiarize themselves with the rules and procedures that govern that border. In earlier years, a regulation prohibited single female travelers from leaving Oman for Yemen. Furthermore, keep in mind that Yemen’s easternmost regions are very distant.

While there is an unmarked boundary between Oman and Saudi Arabia, it is a dangerous passage since it passes through most (if not all) of the Empty Quarter and has no permanent roadways.

Get In - By bus

In the United Arab Emirates, there is a frequent bus service between Muscat and Dubai. Private carriers as well as the state-owned Oman National Transport Company (ONTC) operate, and the trip (which typically takes 4 to 5 hours) is fairly pleasant due to the good roads.

The Dubai to Muscat and Dubai to Salalah routes are operated by ONTC. At 07.15 and in the afternoon, the bus to Muscat leaves from Al Rigga Road in Deira, Dubai. The bus to Salalah leaves from the same bus terminal at 15:00. Tickets to Muscat may be purchased at Al Manhal stationery at the bus stop for AED55 one way (Dec 2010). The bus stop is difficult to locate; it is near to the Caravan restaurant and the Dnata building, and cab drivers are aware of its location. The Salalah bus is the best way to go to Nizwa. Prepare for the bus trip by dressing warmly and preparing for border clearance, which includes a luggage check! You do not need to pay for an Oman visa if you enter the UAE via Dubai; just show your stamp at the border check.

How To Travel Around Oman

Get Around - By plane

The national airline, Oman Air, travels frequently between the country’s two airports (Muscat/Seeb and Salalah). From the United Arab Emirates, Air Arabia currently flies to Salalah and Muscat (UAE).

Get Around - By bus

The major cities in Oman are connected by frequent, daily bus routes (Muscat, Salalah, Sohar, Sur and Nizwa). From Muscat to Dubai, there are many daily bus routes. From Muscat to Abu Dhabi, there is just one bus each day.

Get Around - By taxi

Because taxi driving is a protected profession in Oman, all taxi drivers are Omani citizens. Call/telephone Taxi services are available in Muscat. While they are usually safe and arrive when you expect them, the prices are rather expensive. Look for signs that say “Hello Taxi” and “Muscat Taxi,” among other things.

Owner-operated orange-badged taxis are typically un-metered and have agreed rates before departure. If you receive a really low fare, don’t be shocked if the taxi stops to pick up other people unless you specifically request a private ride. You may request an engaged taxi by simply saying to the driver, “engaged taxi,” and you will be charged for all four seats (4) and will now have the cab to yourself. Women must always sit in the back row by themselves. This is for your own protection and convenience.

Minibuses (Baisa buses) are also available; the idea is that you share the bus or vehicle with others and therefore pay a reduced fare. If women in Oman must utilize public transportation, they travel in this manner. If there are any other women on the bus, ladies should seat next to them. Men should take a different seat. If they do not respond right away, just stand at the door and wait for them to move. They’ll figure it out and relocate. Although this may seem odd to outsiders, it is standard Omanese behavior. If you don’t sit next to a guy, you’ll avoid any awkward scenarios with confused messages.

Get Around - By car

With Oman, it is really prohibited to drive around in a filthy vehicle, believe it or not. The cops may stop you and penalize you OMR10, but they are more likely to just advise you to wash your car.

It’s simple to get around Oman with your own (rented) vehicle. Muscat and Nizwa are connected by a four-lane road, while Muscat to Sur is connected by a newly built four-lane motorway (however, between Muscat and Quriyat it is still one lane each way through the mountains).

Large swaths of the Sur-Muscat road remain devoid of cell phone coverage. Be prepared to wait it out if you break down. Alternatively, catch a ride to the next town and locate a mechanic to repair your car.

Between Muscat and Sur, there is some lovely beach camping. To make your way securely into this seaside road, follow the paved path to SUR, then across to Wadi Shab. A 4WD is strongly recommended if you want to travel through wadis (unsealed valley roads in river bottoms). You never know how the road will be, and if it begins to rain, the wadis will soon become into rivers.

If at all feasible, rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Off-road driving in Oman is fantastic, and you’ll want to go off the beaten path again and again.

Oman has experienced significant flash floods every year since about 2001. Even landcruisers are pushed off the road and upside down by the power of the water pouring down the rock-hard, treeless slopes. Beware. If you see gloomy clouds or rain begins to fall. Find a high, dry spot to hide and remain put. You may contact the local authorities to see if they can provide you with further information. The issue is that since flash floods sweep rapidly from town to town, it is possible to get stranded due to washed-out roadways. White and red poles are placed at several wadi crossings to signal when it is safe to cross the wadi in the event of a flood. On the bottom, they’re painted white, and on the top, they’re painted red. Even with a 4WD, do not try to cross if the water level reaches the red-painted section.

If you can obtain a map of Oman, think of it as how Oman would want the roads to be. Some roads may seem to be well-constructed roadways, yet they are not even paved. Roads that aren’t visible on the map may simply come to a conclusion, and they might even be painted all the way to the end!

In Oman, distances are quite long. The issue is the daily mileage restriction of a normal leased vehicle, which is between 200 and 250 kilometers. Prepare to pay and bargain for more kilometers. In certain cases, monthly prices include unlimited miles.

By European and even North American standards, gasoline in Oman is extremely inexpensive. Regular gasoline cost about OMR0.12 per litre in January 2010, making it even cheaper than in neighboring United Arab Emirates.

The motorways/dual carriageways have been peppered with speed cameras since 2006, in an attempt to reduce the horrific road fatality toll. They’re every 2 kilometers in the center of Muscat; not all of them seem to be operational, but beware. According to residents, the speed cameras’ tolerance is 19 km/h.

Destinations in Oman

Regions in Oman

  • Northern Oman (Muscat, Bahla, Buraimi, Hajar Mountains, Madha, Matrah, Musandam Peninsula, Sohar)
    the capital city, fertile Al-Batinah coast, majestic Hajar Mountains and the Musandam Peninsula
  • Central Coastal Oman (Ibra, Masirah Island, Sur, Wahiba Sands)
    Awe-inspiring dunes, ancient forts, and coastal beauty line the Indian Ocean in Central Coastal Oman
  • Dhofar (Zufar) (Salalah)
    lush coastal lowlands and mountains bordering Yemen
  • Empty Quarter
    a vast desert wasteland that includes most of the relatively undefined Saudi Arabian border region

Cities in Oman

  • Muscat is the capital and biggest city of Oman (812.000)
  • Bahla is an oasis village and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Buraimi is a border crossing town in the United Arab Emirates, near Al Ain.
  • Ibra is the entry point to the Wahiba Sands.
  • Matrah is a town that is close to the capital city and has a similar history.
  • Nizwa is home to one of Oman’s most well-known forts.
  • Salalah – the southern part of the country, which is nearly tropical during the Kareef.
  • Sohar is one of Sindbad’s fabled residences.
  • Sur – where dhows are still made by hand

Other destinations in Oman

  • The Hajar Mountains are a magnificent range that extends into the United Arab Emirates and is the tallest on the Arabian Peninsula.
  • Madha is a small Omani exclave entirely encircled by the United Arab Emirates.
  • Masirah Island – this refuge for turtles and other animals offers a true desert island experience.
  • Musandam Peninsula is a rocky outpost in the Hormuz Straits with several spectacular wadis.
  • Massive undulating dunes stretch as far as the eye can reach in the Wahiba Sands.

Accommodation & Hotels in Oman

Oman offers a wide range of accommodations, from ultra-luxurious hotels to very primitive date palm-leaf cottages in the desert.

Oman has been trying to transform itself into a five-star destination for well-heeled travelers in recent years, with five five-star hotels in Muscat. This is not an issue for budget-conscious Muscat residents, as there are still a variety of affordable alternatives available outside of the city. However, in certain areas of the nation, lodging may be restricted to high-end hotels and resorts.

Things To See in Oman

Oman is known for its ancient forts, which are among of the country’s most impressive cultural monuments. Over 500 forts and towers serve as traditional defense and observation positions to ward off possible attackers. Some of the finest specimens may be seen in Muscat, the capital city. The forts of Jalali and Mirani, which lie near the mouth of Muscat Bay, originate from the early 16th century.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bahla Fort, located at the foot of the Djebel Akhdar highlands, includes 7 kilometers of walls. When Bahla was a flourishing oasis town in the 13th and 14th centuries, it was constructed.

The steep mountains of Oman provide breathtaking scenery as well as some of the finest chances for driving in dry wadis anywhere on the planet. Many of the wadis have roads (typically unpaved but passable), while others need severe off-roading. It’s simple to go off the main road and into isolated places.

At Wahiba Sands, massive sand dunes stretch as far as the eye can see.

The beaches of Oman are important breeding grounds for a variety of sea turtle species. Masirah Island is probably the greatest chance, with four species breeding there, including the world’s biggest population of leatherback turtles.

Not only does the nation include huge swaths of desert and hundreds of kilometers of deserted shoreline, but it also has mountains that rise to above 9000 feet.

Food & Drinks in Oman

Food in Oman

The cuisine is mostly Arabic, Lebanese, Turkish, and Indian in origin. Many Omanis distinguish between “Arabic” and “Omani” cuisine, with the former referring to the common cuisines found across the Arabian Peninsula.

Omani cuisine is generally milder and comes in big quantities; entire fish is not unusual at lunchtime in certain local eateries (sticking to local food, it is quite easy to eat a substantial meal for less than OR2). Seafood is a popular meal in a nation with a long coastline, especially shark, which is surprisingly delicious. Traditional Omani cuisine is difficult to get by in eateries.

Omani sweets are well-known across the area, with “halwa” being the most popular. This is a hot, semi-solid substance that is consumed with a spoon and has a honey-like consistency. The flavor is reminiscent to Turkish Delight. Omani dates are among the finest in the world, and they can be found in almost every social setting and workplace.

In the larger cities, particularly Muscat and Salalah, American fast food franchises like as KFC, McDonald’s, and Burger King are easy to locate.

Pakistani Porotta is available in Khaboora. They resemble pappadams and are twice the size of Indian porottas. However, they have a similar flavor to porottas and are considerably thinner and more tasty. For the equivalent of 11, you may have three porottas. Traditional Omani Khubz (bread) is difficult to come by outside of an Omani household, yet it is an experience not to be missed. This traditional bread is prepared with flour, salt, and water and baked on a big metal plate over an open fire (or gas burner). The bread is crunchy and paper-thin. It goes well with virtually any Omani dish, including hot milk or chai (tea) for breakfast, and is known as “Omani cornflakes.”

Ayla curry, Ayla fried, and Payarupperi make a delicious meal in Sohar. Expect to spend just OMR0.4 (44), which is a relatively cheap lunch fare in this country.

Drinks in Oman

Mineral (bottled) water is readily accessible at most shops. Although tap water is usually safe, most Omanis drink bottled water, and you should as well.

As part of their duty-free luggage limit, international travelers are permitted to bring 2 litres of spirits. Spirits may be purchased in the duty-free store in the arrival lounge.

Even foreigners are banned from consuming anything in public during Ramadan (from dawn to dusk). Drink only in the privacy of your own room.

Money & Shopping in Oman

Currency in Oman

The Omani rial (Arabic:, international currency code OMR) is the local currency of Muscat. One rial is made up of 1,000 baisa (sometimes spelled baiza in Arabic). The Omani rial is officially pegged to the US dollar at OMR1 = USD2.6008, making it one of the world’s biggest units of currency; street values are a percentage point or two lower.

Banknotes in the denominations of OMR0.100 (physically a tiny, green banknote, not to be mistaken with the OMR20 note), OMR0.500, 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 rials are presently in circulation.

Although there are ATMs at the airport and across Muscat and every major town, not all of them accept international cards. Foreign cash may be exchanged at airport counters and at money exchanges across Oman.

Shopping in Oman

The khanjar, a silver-sheathed dagger, is the Omani national emblem. These are available in a broad range of quality and price, and virtually any store will have several distinct versions on hand. The majority of contemporary ones are produced by Indian or Pakistani artisans working under Omani supervision, but many are made in India or Pakistan. From the handles to the sheath, there is a wide range of quality. Silver-accented sandalwood is used for the finest handles, whereas resin is used for the lower-quality handles. Examine the sheath attentively to evaluate the quality of the sliver work. A decent khanjar may set you back more than OMR700. Those are usually packaged in a presentation box and contain a belt.

The arsaa, or walking stick, is another relic of the country’s tribal history. This is a cane with a hidden blade, which can be quite the conversation starter at home. Unfortunately, it will become a conversation topic with customs officers rather than friends and family in many places. The khanjar is often supplanted as formal attire in Musandam by the Jerz, a walking stick with a tiny axe head as the grip.

Omani silver is also a favorite souvenir, and tiny “Nizwa boxes” and rosewater shakers are common (named for the town from which they first came). Silver “message holders” (hurz, or herz), sometimes known as “old time fax machines” in souks, are frequently for sale. The word “Oman” will be stamped on many silver items as a guarantee of authenticity. Only new silver objects are allowed to be stamped in this way. There is a significant amount of ‘ancient’ silver that will not be stamped available. Even if it is genuine, marking it would obliterate its ancient value. The watchwords are Caveat Emptor. If you’re looking to purchase ancient Omani silver of any kind, make sure you go to a trustworthy store.

Omani silver is also offered as jewelry in a wide range of styles. It’s possible that the goods for sale at the Muttrah souk aren’t authentic Omani items. Instead, go to the Nizwa Fort or Shatti Al Qurm, both of which are located close outside of Muscat.

The unique Omani men’s caps, known as “kuma,” are also widely available, especially in Muscat’s Muttrah Souk. Genuine kumas may be purchased for as little as OMR80.

Because the Dhofar area has traditionally been a center for the manufacturing of this commodity, frankincense is a popular buy. In Oman, myrrh is also available at a reasonable price.

Oman, as one would imagine, offers a wide range of fragrances created from a variety of traditional components. Indeed, the world’s most expensive perfume (Amouage), which costs about OMR50, is produced in Oman using frankincense and other components. Perfumes of sandalwood, myrrh, and jasmine are also available.

During the holy month of Ramadan, business hours are severely limited. Supermarkets are a little more lenient, but don’t count on being able to shop after iftar. Most stores shut at noon normally, so this isn’t unique to Ramadan.

It’s hit-or-miss when it comes to using credit cards at stores. It is preferable to get cash from an ATM. Small denomination notes are difficult to come by, yet they are required for bartering. Bargaining is encouraged unless you’re at a grocery, restaurant, or mall, and it should be done nicely.

Traditions & Customs in Oman

Sultan Qaboos is a person who is regarded in the greatest esteem – even reverence – by the overwhelming majority of Omanis and foreigners, since he has done more to build the country than any Arab leader, or most global leaders for that matter, in recent history. Visitors should not make any remarks or statements that may be seen as disrespectful.

The Omani people are usually modest and down-to-earth. Even though people seem to be less “uptight” than their neighbors, the normal norms of respect while traveling in a Muslim nation should be observed in Oman. Homosexuality is technically prohibited under Islamic law, although it is practiced discreetly; nevertheless, it is taboo to discuss such subjects here, as it is everywhere in the Gulf.

While Omanis are not required to say anything to foreigners dressed in exposing or tight clothes, it is regarded extremely rude. Yes, some tourists abuse the Omani people’s generosity by dressing inappropriately, but a little tact goes a long way. Women should always cover their shoulders, knees, and midriffs, and avoid wearing clothing that is too tight or too exposing. Shorts should only be worn by males for outside activities; in the city, longer shorts (i.e. at or below the knee) are acceptable.

Children, men, and women in Oman are likely to look at you just because you are a foreigner, particularly if you go off-season and to remote locations. This isn’t intended to be insulting; rather, it expresses curiosity, and a pleasant grin will have the youngsters laughing and showing off, while the grownups enjoy practicing their English words. Smiling, on the other hand, may not be a smart idea depending on where you are in Oman. Smile if you’re in a bigger region where the locals have had a lot of one-on-one time with outsiders. Except for tour guides, it is not recommended to smile at anyone of the opposite gender outside of Muscat and Salalah because nearly any interaction with the opposite gender (even holding doors open, picking up something that has fallen and handing it to the owner, eye contact, etc.) is viewed as flirtatious. It’s particularly essential for Western women to remember that to most Omani men, an innocent grin that says, “I see you watching me, do you need anything?” implies “I’m interested, come closer.” Because they live in such a gender-segregated culture, every opportunity to converse with someone of the other gender is generally seen as having at least semi-sexual connotations.

Under Omani law, an Omani may be prosecuted for insulting another person, whether it’s by calling them a derogatory term (such as “donkey,” “dog,” “pig,” “sheep,” and so on) or worse. Omanis, despite their “humble” nature, are highly sensitive to any criticism, whether personal, national, or perceived to be aimed towards the Gulf. Despite the fact that Saudi Arabia is a popular subject for jokes throughout the Arab world (particularly in the Levant), Omanis are not amused. What most Westerners would consider hypersensitivity is considered normal in Oman, owing to the fact that Omanis have grown up in an atmosphere where criticism and name-calling are almost forbidden. This is especially important for those who come to teach Omanis because, unlike in the Levant and parts of north Africa, where teasing and intellectual “jousting” can be used to build relationships or as a sign of friendship, it doesn’t work here and Omanis do not interpret it positively, except for those who have lived in the West or have worked with Westerners for extended periods of time. Teasing in general, whether regarding accents, clothing, cuisine, or anything else, is probably a poor idea here.

Culture Of Oman

On the surface, Oman has a lot in common with its Arab neighbors, especially those in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Despite these commonalities, Oman is distinct in the Middle East due to a number of reasons. These are influenced by geography, history, and culture as well as economy. Oman’s state is very new and artificial, making it difficult to define a national culture; nevertheless, significant cultural variety exists inside its national borders to distinguish Oman from other Arab Gulf states. Given its historical extension to the Swahili Coast and the Indian Ocean, Oman’s cultural variety is higher than that of its Arab neighbors.

Oman has a lengthy history of shipbuilding, since marine travel was crucial to the Omani people’s capacity to communicate with ancient civilisations. Sur was one of the most well-known Indian Ocean shipbuilding cities. The Al Ghanja ship takes a year to construct. As Sunbouq and Al Badan are two more kinds of Omani ships.

Archaeologists excavating off the coast of Al Hallaniyah Island discovered a wreckage thought to be the Esmeralda from Vasco da Gama’s fleet of 1502-1503. The shipwreck was found in 1998. Later, between 2013 and 2015, underwater excavations were conducted in collaboration with the Oman Ministry of Heritage and Culture and Bluewater Recoveries Ltd., a shipwreck recovery firm. A “Portuguese coin issued for commerce with India (one of only two known to survive) and stone cannonballs etched with what seem to be the initials of Vincente Sodré, da Gama’s maternal uncle and the captain of the Esmeralda” were used to identify the ship.

Dress Code in Oman

The dishdasha, a modest, ankle-length, collarless gown with long sleeves, is Oman’s national attire for men. The dishdasha is most often white, although it may also be a variety of different colors. The primary embellishment, a tassel (furakha) stitched into the neckline, may be perfumed. Men wear a simple, broad piece of fabric wrapped around the body from the waist down under the dishdasha. The most noticeable geographical variations in dishdasha patterns are the embroidery styles, which vary depending on the age range. A bisht, a black or beige cloak, may be worn over the dishdasha on ceremonial occasions. The cloak’s edging embroidery is usually done in silver or gold thread and is quite detailed.

There are two kinds of headgear worn by Omani men:

  • The ghutra is a square piece of woven wool or cotton cloth in one color that is embroidered with different designs.
  • The kummah is a cap that is used as a headdress during leisure time.

Some men carry an assa, a stick that may be utilized for functional purposes or just as a fashion item during formal occasions. Omani males, on the general, go about in sandals.

Men wear the khanjar (dagger) on all formal public events and festivals, and it is part of the national attire. It’s usually worn around the waist. Simple coverings to elaborate silver or gold-decorated sheaths are available. It is a sign of a man’s ancestors, masculinity, and bravery. On the national flag, there is a representation of a khanjar.

Omani ladies dress in eye-catching national costumes that vary according to location. All of the outfits include bright colors, needlework, and embellishments. The choice of colors used to represent a tribe’s tradition. The Omani women’s traditional costume consists of many items, including the kandoorah, a long tunic with hand-stitched embroidery of various patterns on the sleeves or radoon. The dishdasha is worn over a pair of loose-fitting sirwals that are tight around the ankles. A head wrap, known as the lihaf, is worn by women as well.

Women now wear a loose black cloak called an abaya over their own choice of clothes instead of their traditional attire on important occasions, but the burqa is still used in certain areas, especially among the Bedouin. Although some women cover their faces and hands with hijab, the majority do not. In public office, the Sultan has made it illegal to conceal one’s face.

Music and cinema

Because of Oman’s imperial past, the country’s music is very varied. Traditional Omani music and dances come in approximately 130 distinct varieties. To conserve them, the Oman Centre for Traditional Music was founded in 1984. Sultan Qaboos established the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra in 1985, owing to his passion for classical music. Instead of hiring international musicians, he opted to form an Oman-based orchestra. The Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra performed its first performance on July 1, 1987, at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel’s Oman Auditorium.

Oman’s cinema is tiny, with just one Omani film, Al-Boom (2006), released in 2007.

The Oman Arab Cinema Company LLC is the country’s biggest movie theater network. It is part of the Jawad Sultan Group of Companies, which has been operating in the Sultanate of Oman for over 40 years. In the world of popular music, a seven-minute music video about Oman became viral, gaining 500,000 views on YouTube in only ten days after its debut in November 2015. Three of the region’s most well-known artists are included in the a cappella production: Kahliji musician Al Wasmi, Omani poet Mazin Al-Haddabi, and actress Buthaina Al Raisi.

Media

On November 17, 1974, Sultanate of Oman Television started broadcasting from Muscat, and on November 25, 1975, it began broadcasting from Salalah. The two stations in Muscat and Salalah were connected by satellite on June 1, 1979, to create a unified broadcasting service. To overcome the natural difficulties posed by the hilly terrain, Oman TV’s transmissions are transmitted through a network of transmitters located across the nation in both inhabited and rural regions.

In comparison to its neighbors Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Oman has less limitations on independent media. On Reporters Without Borders’ 2016 World Press Freedom Index, the nation was rated 125th out of 180 countries, one position below Zimbabwe. However, following a revelation exposing corruption in the country’s court, the government attracted worldwide condemnation by shutting the daily Azamn and detaining three journalists in 2016.

Sports

Dhow racing, horse racing, camel racing, bullfighting, and falconry are among Oman’s traditional sports. Sports such as association football, basketball, waterskiing, and sandboarding have rapidly acquired appeal among the younger population.

The Omani government established the Ministry of Sports Affairs in October 2004 to replace the General Organization for Youth, Sports, and Cultural Affairs. The Omani national football team won the 19th edition of the Gulf Cup of Nations, which was held in Muscat from January 4 to 17, 2009.

Ali Al-Habsi plays professional association football for the Omani national team. As of 2015, he is a goalkeeper for Reading in the Football League Championship. The old GOYSCA received the coveted medal for sporting excellence from the International Olympic Committee in honor of its services to youth and sports, as well as its efforts to promote the Olympic spirit and objectives.

The Oman Olympic Committee was instrumental in the successful organization of the 2003 Olympic Days, which benefited sports organizations, clubs, and young participants greatly. The football association, as well as handball, basketball, rugby union, hockey, volleyball, athletics, swimming, and tennis organizations, all participated. Muscat hosted the Asian Beach Games in 2010.

Every year, Oman organizes tennis events in various age categories. A 50-meter swimming pool is located inside the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex stadium and is utilized for international competitions involving schools from many nations. In February, the Tour of Oman, a professional cycling six-day stage event, takes place. The Asian 2011 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup qualifications were held in Oman, with 11 teams competing for three places in the FIFA World Cup. From July 8 to 13, the Millennium Resort in Mussanah held the Men’s and Women’s 2012 Beach Handball World Championships. Oman has fought for a spot in the FIFA World Cup on many occasions, but has yet to qualify for the event.

Oman, along with Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, are the only Middle Eastern countries to conduct a kind of bullfighting known as ‘bull-butting.’ The Al-Batena region in Oman is particularly well-known for such occasions. It pits two Brahmanbreed bulls against one another, and they fight in a ferocious bombardment of headbutts, as the name suggests. The loser is the first to collapse or give up their position. The majority of bull-butting bouts are brief, lasting less than 5 minutes. Bull-roots butting’s in Oman are unclear, but many locals think it was introduced to the country by Spanish-speaking Moors. Others believe it has a direct link to Portugal, which ruled the Omani coast for almost two centuries.

Oman qualified for the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 by finishing sixth in the 2015 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in cricket. They were also given T20I qualification for finishing among the top six teams in the qualifiers.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Oman

Stay Safe in Oman

In Oman, homosexuality is illegal. Tourists who identify as LGBT should be cautious of their surroundings.

Driving in Muscat may be difficult at times, although this is more due to traffic congestion than to poor driving on the part of the locals. Due to the vast expanses of featureless desert outside of the main towns, falling asleep behind the wheel is a frequent driving danger. Driving in Oman requires a keen eye for the unexpected. It has 85.3 road deaths per 100,000 cars, which is more than twice as much as the United Arab Emirates and far higher than most European nations.

Outside of the cities, Omani drivers prefer to drive extremely quickly and pass with impunity. Driving at night is particularly dangerous because many cars forget to switch on their headlights, or because pedestrians cross the road, like on the route from Sohar to Muscat. Even if they notice vehicles coming, camels will wander onto the road, and accidents are frequently deadly for both the camel and the driver. Female travelers should dress modestly in order to avoid offending local norms.

In Oman, it is also illegal to visit gambling and pornographic websites. In Oman, internet filtering is very severe. As a result, you must exercise caution while using the internet.

Stay Healthy in Oman

Oman is hot throughout the year, with particularly scorching summers. Carry drinking water with you at all times and be cautious of dehydration in hot weather. Heat may creep up on you if you’re not accustomed to it and create severe health issues.

Several individuals have attempted to traverse sections of the Omani desert in a hired 4WD on their own. Some of them have perished or have been saved barely in time.

Traveling across the desert requires careful planning. It may seem simple from the comfort of a contemporary air-conditioned 4WD, but if that fails, you’re back to square one.

Never go off the beaten path by yourself. The requirement is to have a minimum of two to three vehicles (of the same make). If you don’t return on time, leave your itinerary with a friend with explicit instructions. Consider the following: – equipment for recovery: spades, rope (and attachments), sand mats, or ladders – two spare tires as well as other necessary accessories – a good air compressor (high capacity) – plenty of water (at least 25 litres more than you think you will need for drinking) – enough gasoline: there are no gas stations in the middle of nowhere.

Take a satellite phone if you have one or can acquire one. (Mobile phones only operate in some locations.) Before going on a journey like this, make sure your vehicle is in good working order.

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