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.
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.