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Oman

The Middle East Sultanate of Oman is on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula. It borders the United Arab Emirates in the northwest, Saudi Arabia in the west, and Yemen in the southwest. Oman has two exclaves separated from it by the United Arab Emirates, the Musandam Peninsula and Madha.

Regions

Cities

  • Muscat - the historic capital and largest city (812 000)
  • Bahla - oasis town which is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Buraimi - border crossing town adjacent to Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates
  • Ibra - gateway to the Wahiba Sands
  • Matrah - adjoining the capital city and just as historic
  • Nizwa - contains one of the best-known forts in Oman
  • Salalah - the south, which is almost tropical at the time of the Kareef
  • Sohar - one of the legendary homes of Sindbad
  • Sur - where dhows are still made by hand

Other destinations

  • Hajar Mountains - a majestic range, the highest in the Arabian Peninsula, which stretches into the United Arab Emirates.
  • Madha - tiny exclave of Oman completely surrounded by the United Arab Emirates
  • Masirah Island - a real desert island experience awaits on this haven for turtles and other wildlife
  • Musandam Peninsula - a rocky exclave on the Straits of Hormuz with some magnificent wadis
  • Wahiba Sands - massive rolling dunes as far as the eye can see

Understand

Until Sultan Qaboos bin Said exiled the previous Sultan in 1970, Oman was an under-developed nation, almost completely closed to visitors and badly manipulated by the British, although never annexed. Since the accession of Qaboos, education, public works and tourism have taken off throughout Oman.

Omanis are friendly people and very helpful to visitors. In turn, tourists should respect the ways and traditions of the Omani people.

Omanis are proud of both their country's rapid progress and their heritage as one of the great seafaring nations. Excellent schools and hospitals, good governance, and on-going infrastructure improvements are all important characteristics of this once introverted and closed nation.

History

Before Islam

The oldest known human settlement in Oman dates to the Stone Age.

Sumerian tablets refer to a country called Magan, a name thought to refer to Oman’s ancient copper mines. The present-day name of the country is believed to originate from the Arab tribes who migrated to its territory from the Uman region of Yemen. Many tribes settled in Oman making a living by fishing, herding or stock breeding and some present day Omani families are able to trace their ancestral roots to other parts of Arabia.

From the 6th century BCE to the arrival of Islam in the 7th century CE, Oman was controlled or influenced by three Persian dynasties: the Achaemenids, Parthians and Sassanids. By about 250 BCE the Parthian dynasty brought the Persian Gulf under their control and extended their influence as far as Oman and established garrisons in Oman. In the third century CE the Sasanids succeeded the Parthians and held the area until the rise of Islam four centuries later.

Modern era

Climate

The climate generally is very hot, with temperatures reaching 54°C (129°F) in the hot season, from May to September.

Annual rainfall in Muscat averages 100 mm (3.9 in), falling mostly in January. Dhofar is subject to the southwest monsoon, and rainfall up to 640 mm (25.2 in) has been recorded in the rainy season from late June to October.

While the mountain areas receive more plentiful rainfall, some parts of the coast, particularly near the island of Masirah, sometimes receive no rain at all within the course of a year.

Read

  • Explorer Publishing, Oman Off-road: 26 Adventurous Routes. Given the dearth of available topo and road maps for the country, this book is indispensable for visitors looking to explore Oman's most outstanding sights, many of which are off the tarmac. Routes and points of interest are described in detail, with satellite imagery and GPS coordinates. Outside of the Gulf region the book may be difficult to find, but it is usually in stock at the bookshop in the arrivals terminal at the Muscat airport, as well as in select bookshops in the city and in the UAE, where it is published.

Religion

Ibadi is the official dominant denominational religion of Islam in Oman.

Get in

Visas

A single entry visa can be obtained upon arrival at any air, land or sea terminal by citizens of the following countries:

The fee is 5 rials for a 10-day tourist visa (but at MCT airport, you need to get the visa from the money changers which add a 1 rial commission). A 30-day visa is also available for 20 rials. Your passport should be valid for no less than 6 months from the date of arrival. Any visa fees can be paid using UAE dirhams at a rate of ten dirhams to one Omani rial. At the airports, visa fees can be paid in any Gulf Co-operation Council currency, euros, and US dollars.

Oman has a common visa facility with the Emirate of Dubai. If you pass through Dubai immigration and are granted a visa to Dubai for at least 3 weeks, you will then be entitled to a free-of-charge visa for 3 weeks to Oman. You will need to show your passport stamp from Dubai to the Omani immigration officers. Visas are sold by private businesses at some ports of entry and these people may not be familiar with this and will try to convince you that you need to buy a visa from them. If it is your first visit to that particular port of entry, it may be difficult to know how to navigate past these people. If you make it to an immigration officer they will be familiar with the visa fee waiver and allow you to enter without paying. The countries benefiting from this type of visa are: 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. (http://www.rop.gov.om/english/dg_pr_visas_dubai.asp)

Note that this scheme is with the Emirate of Dubai only and not with other emirates of the UAE, therefore, if you enter the UAE via Abu Dhabi or elsewhere, then your UAE visa will be granted by some other emirate and while this allows you to travel within the UAE and to Dubai, the Omani visa fee will not be waived.

Chinese, Russian and Ukrainian nationals may obtain visit visas following the same procedures provided that they are part of tourist groups arriving to the Sultanate through a local tourist agent or a hotel or as a family. In the case of groups, the number of females must not exceed the number of males.

Citizens of Egypt, Iran, India, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia can apply for a one-month visit visa only at air terminals.

The visa can be extended another month by submitting your passport to the Royal Omani Police in Muscat, however there is one line, and the wait can be as long as 2 hours. Be aware that the concept of personal distance is different in the Middle East than it is in Europe. Queue jumping may be a problem for Europeans unless you set aside that personal distance concept. If you are on a budget and need to extend your visa, consider taking a trip to the United Arab Emirates. Buses are 10-12 rials return. A same-day round trip flight to Sharjah on Air Arabia costs about 50 rials. Even a taxi would be an option. Visa is not required for nationals of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states and a short stay visa will be granted on arrival to residents of GCC member states as well regardless of nationality.

GCC expatriate residents are granted a visit visa valid for up to 4 weeks (extendable by 1 week) for a fee of 5 rials.

Israeli stamps are not a problem for entry, but Israeli passports can not be used to enter Oman.

Customs

It is prohibited to bring firearms, narcotics or pornographic publications into Oman. Non-Muslims are permitted to bring two litres of alcohol into the country at Muscat International Airport only. You are not allowed to bring alcohol into the country in private cars at land border crossings.

By plane

Virtually all international flights arrive at Muscat (Seeb) International Airport (MCT) in Muscat. There are also a small number of regional international flights to Salalah (SLL). Purchasing a visa on arrival in Salalah can be quite difficult, as the airport is very small and immigration officials tend not to have change for larger notes.

There are scheduled services by numerous airlines, including but not limited to Oman Air, Emirates, Gulf Air, Etihad, British Airways, Kuwait Airways, Saudi Arabian Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Swiss International, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Air India, Air France, and Thai Airways International. The most frequent connections are via Dubai (DXB).

There are also direct flights from various Indian cities by airlines like Air India, Indian and Jet Airways.

By boat

The port in Muscat is used by cruise ships, however there are no regular passenger services to Oman. This is slowly changing, with more cruise ships (generally smaller ones) making port calls.

By car

There are multiple border crossings from the United Arab Emirates into Oman some of which are listed below:

  • Hatta border at Wadi Hatta and Al-Wajajah (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- For Abu Dhabi residents crossing to Oman, there are 3 border posts in Al Ain - 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).

Roads are excellent and the border crossing is quite easy. Don't forget to bring along some cash as you have to pay for the visa to enter Oman and if you want to refuel your car as seems that many petrol station do not allow to pay by credit card. If you are taking a car from the UAE into Oman you will need to produce evidence at the border that the car is insured in Oman. Note that there is a departure tax of 35 UAE dirhams when leaving the UAE by car, and an 2 rials tax when leaving Oman by road.

Weekends and public holidays are very busy at the various borders that UAE shares with Oman as residents and visitors cross into Oman for tourism purposes as well as visa runs. Crossing during the work week (Sunday to Thursday) will avoid much of the crowds.

Additionally, make sure that your passport is stamped with the relevant entry and exit stamps. This should go without saying, but some border officials will forget part of the procedure and cause administrative hassles later. Additionally, crossing from Oman to the UAE is often a chaotic business, so it is easier to miss out on the all-important stamp than one might expect.

Crossing from Oman to Yemen is significantly more challenging, and those of an adventurous bent should familiarise themselves very carefully with the regulations regarding that border. In previous years, there has been a law that no solo female travellers can exit Oman to Yemen. Additionally, bear in mind that the easternmost parts of Yemen are exceptionally remote.

While a border (unmarked) exists between Oman and Saudi Arabia, this is a very inadvisable crossing, as it involves going through most (if not all) of the Empty Quarter and there are no permanent roads.

By bus

There is a regular bus service between Muscat and Dubai in the UAE. There are private operators as well as the state owned Oman National Transport Company (ONTC) and the ride (which usually takes between 4 to 5 hours) is quite comfortable, thanks to the excellent roads.

ONTC operates the Dubai to Muscat and Dubai to Salalah routes. The bus to Muscat departs from Al rigga road in Deira, Dubai at 07:15 and in the afternoon. The bus to Salalah departs at 15:00 from the same bus station. The tickets are bought at Al Manhal stationery by the bus stop and cost 55 UAE dirhams one way to Muscat (Dec 2010). The bus stop is hard to find, it is close to the Caravan restaurant and close to the Dnata building, the taxi drivers know where the bus stop is. To go to Nizwa you need to go with the Salalah bus. Dress warm for the bus ride and prepare for border control including baggage check! If you enter UAE through Dubai you don't need to pay for Visa for Oman, show your stamp at the border control.

Get around

By plane

Oman Air is the national carrier and flies regularly between the two airports in the country (Muscat/Seeb, and Salalah). Air Arabia offers flights to Salalah and Muscat from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

By bus

There are regular, daily bus services connecting the bigger cities within Oman (Muscat, SalalahSoharSur and Nizwa). There are several, daily bus services from Muscat to Dubai. There is one bus a day from Muscat to Abu Dhabi. For details see the pages of the Oman National Transport Company [1].

Mowasalat is state operated public transportation company in Oman. The official pages are located at http://mwasalat.om. The company operates bus lines which connect some of the major cities in Oman.

By taxi

All taxi drivers in Oman are Omani nationals as this is a protected profession. In Muscat there are call/telephone taxi services. Whilst safe and generally turn up when you want them to the costs are comparatively high. Look for "Hello Taxi" and "Muscat Taxi" amongst others.

The orange-badged taxis are usually owner-operated, these are un-metered with negotiated fares before departure. If you get a very cheap price, then do not be surprised if the Taxi stops to add extra passengers unless you request for it to be private. You may ask for engaged, just say 'engaged taxi' to the driver, and you will pay for all the seats (4) and now have the taxi to yourself. Women must always sit alone in the back. This is for your own safety and comfort.

There are also mini-buses (Baisa buses), the principle is you share the bus or car with others and pay a lower price as a result. This is how women living in Oman travel if they must use public transport. Women should sit next to other women if there are any in the bus. Men should move to other seats. If they do not move immediately, simply stand at the door, looking at them expectantly. They will take the hint and move. Although this might feel strange to foreigners, it is expected behaviour for Omanis. Not sitting next to a man will avoid any unfortunate situations of mixed signals.

By car

Driving around Oman in your own (rented) car is quite easy. A four-lane road connects Muscat and Nizwa and a four-lane highway goes from Muscat to Sur (however, between Muscat and Quriyat it is still one lane each way through the mountains).

There are still large parts of the Sur - Muscat route that has no mobile phone signal. If you break down be prepared to wait it out. Or hitch a ride to the next town and find a mechanic to bring back to your vehicle.

Lovely seaside camping can be found between Muscat and Sur. Best to take the paved route to Sur, then over to Wadi Shab to find your way safely into this coastal road. If you intend to drive in wadis (unsealed valley roads in river beds) a 4WD is highly desirable. You can never be sure how the road will be and if it starts raining the wadis will turn into rivers quickly.

If at all possible, hire a 4-wheel drive. There is spectacular off-road driving to be had in Oman, and you will want to veer off the tarmac again and again.

Since about 2001 Oman has been experiencing severe flash flooding annually. The force of the water rushing down the rock hard treeless mountains do push even landcruisers off the road and upside down. Beware. If you see dark clouds or rain starts. Find high dry ground, shelter and stay put. You can put a call into the local authorities to see if they can advise you better. The problem is the flash floods move quickly from town to town, it is easy to get trapped by washed out roads. Many wadi crossings have white and red poles to indicate when it is safe to cross the wadi in case of a flood. These are painted white on the bottom and red on top. If the water level reaches the red-painted part, do not attempt to cross, even in a 4WD.

If you managed to get a map of Oman regard it as how Oman would like to have the roads. Some roads might be drawn as well-built streets but are not even paved. Roads not visible on the map might just end and may even be painted till the end!

The typical rented car has a limit of 200-250 km per day. Prepare to pay and negotiate for extra kilometres. Monthly rates sometimes include unlimited kilometres.

Petrol in Oman is very cheap by European and even North American standards. As of June 2016 the price for regular petrol was approximately 0.17 rials per litre, even cheaper than in neighbouring United Arab Emirates.

In order to try and limit the rather frightening road death toll, the motorways/dual carriageways are littered with speed cameras. In the centre of Muscat they are every 2 km, not all look like they are active - but be warned. According to locals, the tolerance on the speed cameras is 19 km/h.

Talk

Arabic is the national language, but most Omanis will speak good to excellent English, and particularly so in major tourist areas and cities. In the southern Dhofar region, a Semitic language called "Jibbali" is spoken. Swahili and Baluchi are languages spoken by ethnic minorities in Oman, especially in the capital Muscat. The presence of a large number of Malayalees expatriates from the Indian state of Kerala, has made Malayalam a prominent language. The historical presence of Indian traders has meant that Hindi is understood in some urban areas. An English-speaking traveller should have no language difficulties unless he or she really travels "off the beaten track".

See

Oman is famous for its historic forts which are the country's most striking cultural landmarks. There are over 500 forts and towers which were the traditional defence and lookout points to deter potential invaders. Some of the best examples are conveniently located in the capital, Muscat. Jalali and Mirani forts stand at the entrance to Muscat Bay and date from the early 16th century.

Bahla Fort at the base of the Djebel Akhdar highlands is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has 7 miles of walls. It was built in the 13th and 14th centuries when Bahla was a thriving oasis town.

Oman's rugged mountains offer some stunning scenery and probably the best opportunities for driving in dry wadis anywhere in the world. Many of the wadis have made roads (often unsurfaced but decent enough) while others require serious off-roading. You can easily get well off the beaten path into remote areas.

Huge desert dunes roll for as far as the eye can see at Wahiba Sands.

Oman's beaches are major breeding locations for various species of sea turtle. Masirah Island is the perhaps best bet where four species breed, including the largest number of leatherbacks anywhere in the world.

The country has vast expanses of desert, hundreds of kilometres of uninhabited coastline, and mountains of over 2740 m (9000 feet).

Do

  • Drive off-road to explore Oman's most outstanding sights.

Buy

The currency in Muscat is the Omani rial, denoted by the sumbol "ريال‎" (ISO currency code OMR). One rial is made up of one thousand baisa (also written baiza, Arabic: بيسة). The Omani rial is tied to the US dollar at 1 rial = US$2.6008 making it one of the largest units of currency in the world; exchange rates on the streets are a percentage point or two lower.

Banknotes that circulate are in 0.100 rials (physically a rather small, green banknote and not to be confused with the 20-rial note), 0.500 rial, 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50-rial denominations.

There are ATMs at the airport and plenty of them in Muscat and every main town, although not all of them take foreign cards. You can change foreign currency at the counters inside the airport and at money exchanges throughout Oman.

Shopping

The Omani national symbol is the silver-sheathed dagger known as the khanjar. These vary widely in quality and cost, but almost every shop will stock several different models. Most of the modern ones are made by Indian or Pakistani craftsmen under Omani direction, while many are actually made in India or Pakistan. There is a large variety in quality, from the handles to the sheath. The best handles are made of silver-adorned sandalwood, while the lesser quality handles are made of resin. Look carefully at the sheath to determine the quality of the sliver work. A good quality khanjar can cost more than OMR700. Typically, those will come in a presentation box, and include a belt.

Another reminder of the country's tribal past is the walking stick known as arsaa. This is a cane with a concealed sword in it, which can prove quite a talking point at home. Unfortunately, in many countries, it will prove a talking point with customs officials rather than friends and family. In Musandam, the khanjar is frequently replaced by the Jerz as formal wear, a walking stick with a small axe head as the handle.

Omani silver is also a popular souvenir, often made into rosewater shakers and small "Nizwa boxes" (named for the town from which they first came). Silver "message holders" (known as hurz, or herz), often referred to in souks as "old time fax machines" are often for sale as well. Many silver products will be stamped with "Oman" on them, which is a guarantee of authenticity. Only new silver items may be so stamped. There is a large quantity of 'old' silver available which will not be stamped. Although it may be authentic, stamping it would destroy its antique value. Caveat Emptor are the watch words. Stick to reputable shops if you are contemplating buying antique Omani silver of any sort.

There is a wonderful selection of Omani silver available as jewellery as well. Items for sale in the Muttrah souk may not be genuine Omani items. Instead visit Shatti Al Qurm just outside of Muscat or the Nizwa Fort.

The distinctive hats worn by Omani men, called "kuma", are also commonly sold, particularly in the Muttrah Souk in Muscat. Genuine kumas cost from 80 rials.

Frankincense is a popular purchase in the Dhofar region as the region has historically been a centre for production of this item. Myrrh can also be purchased quite cheaply in Oman.

As one might expect, Oman also sells many perfumes made from a great number of traditional ingredients. Indeed, the most expensive perfume in the world (Amouage) is made in Oman from frankincense and other ingredients, and costs around 50 rials. You can also find sandalwood myrrh and jasmine perfumes.

Opening hours during the holy month of Ramadan are very restricted. Supermarkets are less strict, but don't rely on being able to buy anything after iftar. At noon, most shops are closed anyway but this is not specific to Ramadan.

Using credit cards in shops is hit or miss. It is better to get cash at an ATM. Small denomination notes are hard to come by but necessary for bargaining. Unless you are in a supermarket, restaurant or mall bargaining is recommended, and this should be conducted politely.

Eat

The food is mainly Arabic, Lebanese, Turkish, and Indian. Many Omanis make a distinction between "Arabic" food and "Omani" food, with the former being the description of the standard dishes found throughout the Arabian Peninsula.

Omani food tends to be less spicy and served in quite large portions - whole fish are not uncommon at lunch in some local restaurants (sticking to local food, it is quite easy to eat a substantial meal for less than OR2). As benefits of a country with a long coastline, seafood is quite a common dish, particularly shark, which is surprisingly tasty. True traditional Omani food is hard to find in restaurants.

Omani sweets are well-known throughout the region, with the most popular being "halwa". This is a hot, semi-solid substance which behaves a little like honey and is eaten with a spoon. The taste is similar to Turkish Delight. Omani dates are among the best in the world and can be found at every social place and at offices.

American fast food chains, especially KFC, McDonalds, and Burger King, are not hard to find in the bigger cities, especially Muscat and Salalah.

In Khaboora you can get Pakistani Porotta. They are double the size of Indian Porottas and look like pappadams. But they taste like porottas and are much thinner and delicious. Three porottas are available for the equivalent of ₹11. Traditional Omani Khubz (bread) is hard to find outside of an Omani home, but for an experience one should try hard not to miss. This traditional bread is made of flour, salt and water cooked over a fire (or gas stove) on a large metal plate. The bread is paper-thin and crispy. It is eaten with almost any Omani food, including hot milk or chai (tea) for breakfast-- "Omani cornflakes".

In Sohar you may get an excellent lunch with Ayla curry, Ayla fry and Payarupperi. Expect to pay only 0.4 rials (₹44) which is considered very low lunch price here.

Drink

Bottled drinking (mineral) water is easily available at most stores. Tap water is generally safe; however, most Omanis drink bottled water and to be safe, you should too.

Alcohol is available only in some restaurants and large hotels and is usually very expensive (ranging from 1.5 rials for a 500 ml Carlsberg to 4 rials). Drinking alcohol in public is prohibited, but you can get your own drinks and enjoy at public areas but in privacy such as camping by beaches, sands, mountains, or actually in any remote areas. Only foreign residents can buy alcohol from alcohol shops and with certain limits. But an alcohol black market is widely spread around the cities and alcohol can be found easily.

Foreigner travellers are allowed 2 litres of spirits as duty free baggage allowance. Visitors can buy spirits at the duty free shop in the arrival lounge.

During Ramadan, drinking anything in public is prohibited, even for foreigners. Take care to drink in the privacy of your room.

Sleep

Oman has the full spectrum of accommodation - from ultra-luxurious hotels to extremely rustic huts in the desert constructed from date palm leaves.

In recent years, Oman has been attempting to turn itself into something of a five-star destination for well-heeled traveller, there is five five-star hotels in the capital. This does not pose a problem to the budget-minded in Muscat, and even outside of the capital there is still a range of budget options. In some parts of the country, however, accommodation may be limited to higher-end hotels and resorts.

Work

Working in Oman requires that you hold a residence permit. In common with other Gulf countries, you must be sponsored by an employer to obtain a residence permit. It's not uncommon for people to enter on a tourist visa then look for a job - this is fine. Penalties for the employer are substantial if they are caught employing illegals, although this naturally varies depending on how good their connections are.

The majority of positions are filled by expats from the sub-continent. Positions for Europeans tend to be restricted to upper management levels or specialised occupations, so don't expect to pick up a position as you pass through unless you are prepared to work for very little!

Cope

Visitors may be interested in the monthly English language lifestyle magazine, Oman Today, which is widely available in Oman.

Stay safe

Homosexuality is a crime in Oman. LGBT tourists should be self-aware.

Driving in Muscat can sometimes be a problem, although this is due more to congestion than bad driving on the part of the locals. Outside of the major cities, a common driving risk is falling asleep at the wheel due to the long stretches of featureless desert. Driving in Oman calls for attention to the unexpected. It has 85.3 road fatalities per 100,000 motor vehicles, which is more than double than UAE and much bigger that most European countries.

Omani drivers outside of the cities tend to drive very fast and pass with impunity. Driving at night is especially hazardous as many drivers fail to turn their headlights on, or people crossing the road by feet for example in road from Sohar to Muscat. Camels will walk into the road even if they see cars approaching, and collisions are often fatal for both camel and driver.

Female travellers should be careful to dress modestly, as not to offend local customs.

Visiting gambling and adult sites is also a crime in Oman. Internet censorship in Oman is very serious. So you need to be careful to stay safe on-line.

Stay healthy

Oman is warm year-round and summers can be extremely hot. Always carry drinking water with you and be wary of de-hydration in high temperatures. If you're not used to the heat it can sneak up on you and cause serious health problems.

Several people have tried to cross stretches of the Omani desert on their own in a rented 4WD. Some of these people have died or got rescued just in time.

Travelling through a desert requires proper preparation. It looks easy from a modern air-conditioned 4WD, but if that fails you are suddenly back to basics.

Never go off-road alone. A minimum of two to three cars (of the same make) is the rule. Leave your itinerary with a friend with clear instructions if you do not return in time. Take at least:

  • recovery tools: spades, rope (and attachments), sand mats or ladders
  • two spare tires and all required equipment
  • a good air pump (high capacity)
  • sufficient water (at least 25 litres more than you think you will need for drinking)
  • sufficient petrol: there are no petrol stations in the middle of nowhere.

If you have – or can get – a satellite phone, take it. (Mobiles work only in limited areas.) Check your car before embarking on such a trip.

Respect

As he has done more to develop the nation than any Arab leader, or most world leaders for that matter, in recent history, Sultan Qaboos is a figure who is held in the highest regard – even revered – by the vast majority of Omanis. Visitors should refrain from making any comments or statements that could be construed as disrespectful.

The Omanis are generally humble and down-to-earth people. The usual rules of respect when travelling in a Muslim country should be followed in Oman, even when locals appear to be a little less "uptight" than their neighbours. Homosexuality is illegal due to Islamic law but is practised with discretion; however as elsewhere in the Gulf it is taboo to discuss such topics.

While Omanis may not say anything to foreigners who dress in tight or revealing clothing, it is considered to be very disrespectful. Yes, some visitors push the goodwill of the Omanis in choosing their attire, but a little sensitivity goes a long way. A general rule of thumb is that women should always keep shoulders, knees, and midriff covered, and avoid tight or revealing clothing. For men, shorts should be worn only for outdoor activities; longer shorts (i.e. at or below the knee) are fine in the city.

Staring is quite common in Oman; children, men and women are likely to stare at you simply for being a foreigner, especially if you travel off-season and in out-of-the-way places. This is not meant as an insult, it rather shows an interest, and a friendly smile will leave the kids giggling and showing off, and the adults happily trying out their few English phrases. Depending on which area of Oman you are in, smiling, though, may not be a good idea. In larger areas in which the locals have had excessive amounts of one on one experience with foreigners, smile-away. Outside of Muscat and Salalah, it's not advised to smile at anyone of the opposite sex regardless of how friendly they are (save for tour guides) due to the fact that 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 is especially important for Western women to take into account that an innocent smile saying, "I see you seeing me, do you need something" means "I'm interested, come closer" to most Omani men. They live in a heavily gender segregated society and so any chance they have to speak to the opposite gender is usually viewed as having at least semi-sexual overtones.

Under Omani law, an Omani can be taken to court for insulting another person, whether it is calling them an insulting name (one of the more common Arabic insults of "donkey," "dog," "pig," "sheep," etc.) or worse. Omanis, although "humble" are extremely sensitive to anything they perceive as criticism whether personal, national, or anything they perceive as being directed at the Gulf. Although Saudi Arabia is usually a fair target for jokes in the Arab world (especially in the Levant), Omanis don't take well to it. What Westerners would usually consider hypersensitive is fairly normal in Oman and due largely to the fact that Omanis have grown up in an environment in which criticism and name-calling is more or less outlawed. This is especially important to know for those who come here to teach Omanis - unlike those from the Levant and parts of north Africa where teasing and intellectual "jousting" can be used as a form of building relationships or a sign of friendship, it doesn't work here and Omanis do not interpret it positively, save for those who have lived in the West or have worked with Westerners for extended periods of time. It might be said that teasing in general here, whether about accents, dress, food or anything else is just a bad idea.

Connect

The country code for Oman is 968.

Dialling out from Oman you will need to dial 00 + International Code + Number

Dialling into Oman callers use +968 followed by an 8 digit number...

These 8-digit numbers generally start with a 9 if it is mobile number, and with 2 for land lines, though other numbers will eventually start to get used.

Pre-paid mobile SIMs are available from several counters at the airport arrivals area. Your passport details are required to register the SIM. Often the staff will be helpful in activating the SIM for use when you buy.

Hear about travel to the Sultanate of Oman as the Amateur Traveler talks to Claire Robinson from zigzagonearth.com about her trip to this middle eastern country. 

The Rough Guide to Oman

Gavin Thomas

The Rough Guide to Oman is the ultimate travel guide to one of the world's most exciting emerging tourist destinations, with clear maps and detailed coverage of all the best Oman attractions.

Discover Oman's highlights in the full-color introduction packed with stunning photography and information on everything from experiencing an oasis of traditional culture to the frantically modernizing Gulf states. Find detailed practical advice on what to see and do in Oman, relying on up-to-date descriptions of the best hotels, bars, clubs, shops and restaurants for all budgets.

The Rough Guide to Oman also includes two full-color sections describing the country's most notable architectural wonders, plus a detailed guide to the very best food and drink. Explore every corner of this captivating country with easy-to-use maps to make sure you don't miss the a thing. Make the most of your trip with The Rough Guide to Oman.

Oman - A Photographic Voyage

Jaap Croese

This beautiful Sultanate, with high mountains and desert lowlands that sweep down to the waters of the Arabian Gulf, has a tourism strategy to bring in twelve million tourists annually by the year 2020.

Jaap Croese's lens here captures a diverse range of views of this enchanting land, bringing out the country's natural beauties and striking traditional architecture and dress.

This is Jaap Croese's second photographic book on Oman, demonstrating his remarkable photographic gift over the course of his travels the length and breadth of the country.

Oman (Bradt Travel Guide Oman)

Diana Darke

Bradt's is the most up-to-date and informative guide to Oman, the Arabian peninsula's most welcoming destination, fully revised and updated by an author who has been living in Oman and Arabia since 1986. Oman is finally reaping the economic benefit of its location between Europe, Africa and Asia with substantial investment in major shipping ports and significant expansion of the national airline with new routes to Western Europe and East Asia. Despite being at the crossroads of great trade routes and empires, Oman has remained an independent country through much of its long history, and today tourism and travel are a major focus for Oman's government. This new edition covers the recent substantial investment in new airport facilities and upmarket accommodation and also features the historic UNESCO towns of Samharam and Al Balid. If you want to live like a local, the guide also tells you how to slow cook the traditional spiced meat shuwa and how to be a perfect guest if invited into an Omani home. Oman is not merely a desert. While it has the classic sand seas – Wihibah Sands – home to the nomadic Bedouin and their camels, this sultanate also boasts lush monsoon-soaked valleys near Salalah, mountain villages surrounded by green terraced fields of fruit trees and rose bushes, and the reef-fringed Ad Dimaniyyat Islands. With such a varied wilderness there is huge scope for adventure. Oman is increasingly perceived as a high-end cultural destination. The new Opera House has opened, directly supported by the Sultan, with top-notch international performers like Placido Domingo. The guide includes advice on property buying, since Omani law changed to allow expatriates to buy, explaining the rules and regulations. There is also a detailed overview of language schools teaching Arabic, not found in other guides. With advice on cultural etiquette, basic Arabic phrases and political history – as well as full practical information on where to stay and eat, and what to see and do – this fully updated edition remains the essential guide for travellers looking to discover the real Oman.

Lonely Planet Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Explore ancient souqs in labyrinthine alleyways; dine in the world's tallest building; and feel the allure of Arabia's desert dunes; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Oman, the United Arab Emirates and the Arabian Peninsula and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - culture, history, religion, art, literature, music, dance, architecture, politics, cuisine Over 70 maps Covers Bahrain, Manama, Kuwait, Kuwait City, Oman, Muscat, Dhofar, Qatar, Doha, Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Gharbia and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula, our most comprehensive guide to Oman, the United Arab Emirates and the Arabian Peninsula, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for a guide focused on Dubai and Abu Dhabi? Check out Lonely Planet Dubai & Abu Dhabi for a comprehensive look at all Dubai and Abu Dhabi have to offer, or Pocket Dubai, a handy-sized guide focused on the can't-miss sights for a quick trip. Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet Middle East for a comprehensive look at all the region has to offer.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

Insight Guides: Oman & the UAE

Insight Guides

Insight Guides: Inspiring your next adventureInsight Guide Oman and the UAE is an essential guide to two jewels of the Middle East, brought to life with hundreds of evocative photographs. Our inspirational Best of Oman and the UAE section highlights the countries' unmissable sights and experiences, while a comprehensive Travel Tips section gives you all the practical information you need to plan your trip, and our selective listings bring you the best restaurants and activities on offer. Lavish magazine-style features offer a unique insight into contemporary life in Oman and the UAE, from religion to sports to expatriate communities. A detailed Places section, with full-color maps cross-referenced to the lively narrative written by our local author, guides you around the two countries, from the skyscrapers of Dubai to the remote wilderness of Oman's Empty Quarter.Inside Insight Guide Oman and the UAE:A fully-overhauled edition Stunning, specially-commissioned photography that brings these enchanting countries and their people to life. Highlights of the countries' top attractions, including awe-inspiring architecture, bustling souqs, remote wadis, and monumental forts in our Best of Oman and the UAE.Descriptive region-by-region accounts cover the whole of both countries from ultra-modern cities to time-warped mudbrick mountain villages. Detailed, high-quality maps throughout will help you get around and travel tips give you all the essential information for planning a memorable trip, including our independent selection of the best restaurants.Free app for every customer. About Insight Guides: Insight Guides has over 40 years' experience of publishing high-quality, visual travel guides. We produce around 400 full-color print guide books and maps as well as picture-packed eBooks to meet different travelers' needs. Insight Guides' unique combination of beautiful travel photography and focus on history and culture together create a unique visual reference and planning tool to inspire your next adventure. 'Insight Guides has spawned many imitators but is still the best of its type.' - Wanderlust Magazine

Oman Under Arabian Skies: Unabridged

Mr. Rory Patrick Allen

A traveller's tale through the exotic land of The Sultanate of Oman. A land of oases, deserts, mountains and ancient cities carved from stone. A land that boasts The Queen of Sheba, Sindbad the sailor and the lost city of Ubar that has been buried beneath the sands of The Empty Quarter for millennia. A country that was heralded for its' wealth in Frankincense and it is from Oman that the ancient trade of Frankincense began in the Classical World. Oman is a country where Bedouin still wander through the desert as they have since time immemorial. A mystical country where eagles soar over the mountain that is home to the Tomb of the prophet Job, a prophet in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Embark, with the author, on a magical and mystical Arabian Odyssey through The Sultanate of Oman.

Oman - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

Simone Nowell

Culture Smart! provides essential information on attitudes, beliefs and behavior in different countries, ensuring that you arrive at your destination aware of basic manners, common courtesies, and sensitive issues. These concise guides tell you what to expect, how to behave, and how to establish a rapport with your hosts. This inside knowledge will enable you to steer clear of embarrassing gaffes and mistakes, feel confident in unfamiliar situations, and develop trust, friendships, and successful business relationships. Culture Smart! offers illuminating insights into the culture and society of a particular country. It will help you to turn your visit-whether on business or for pleasure-into a memorable and enriching experience. Contents include: * customs, values, and traditions * historical, religious, and political background * life at home * leisure, social, and cultural life * eating and drinking * do's, don'ts, and taboos * business practices * communication, spoken and unspoken

Oman Travel Guide (Grapeshisha Travel Guides Book 3)

Zohara Hirji

”The Ultimate Guidebook to Muscat and Oman"

The Oman Travel Guide from Grapeshisha is the ultimate travel guide to one of the hidden gems of Arabia - Oman. This Oman guide has been written specifically to give you the relevant, updated insider knowledge on Muscat and Oman, from streetsmarts on where to stay and what to do to the low down on where to eat, party, shop and relax. The guide is also focused on areas outside of Muscat, giving a helping hand so that you have the confidence to see some of the most beautiful locations in the world.

This Oman guide book helps the Oman tourist unravel the must dos to get the best from such a beautiful country covering everything from the souks in Muscat and old Muscat town to some of the forts and natural beauty, so surprising for this part of the world. There is advice and opinion on the best as well as the affordable hotels, restaurants, bars, and places of interest including favourites off the beaten path. There is also a significant reference glossary, cultural guide and planning information.

Features of the Oman Travel Guide 2015Itineraries, maps and walking guides, helping you get the best out of your time in Oman, and getting you au fait with your bearings – with information on Musandam, Salalah and across the whole of Oman with highlights of some UNESCO heritage sites.Super Muscat Spots – from the Sultan Qaboos Mosque to the Royal Opera House in Qurm, as well as a guide to the Muttrah Souk.Recommended hotels - the best places to stay from world famous hotels such as the Al Bustan Palace and the Chedi to an in depth review of the Shangri-La Barr al Jissah Resort and Spa.Sightseeing across Oman - recommended spots to visit outside of Muscat including Nizwa, the Hajjar Mountains and Salalah  Food and Fun – with coverage of varying food palettes, we give you the best locations to get the best food and spend some well-earned down time. Streetsmarts – recommendations of what to do and where not to waste your time and money when in Oman, along with negotiations tips, cultural tips and insights, and hidden spots that only the best guide book will you.Shopaholics – coverage of which malls to spend your cash and which souks to get your most authentic souvenirs whether it’s Omani clothing, tat from the souk or some of the tastiest dates money can buy.

The Oman travel guide, one of the only independent books on Muscat and Oman, is written for both the family looking for some relaxation as well as the slightly adventurous holiday maker who wants to see Oman's secrets before Oman, itself, ceases to remain a secret.

The Oman Travel Guide 2015 has been specifically written to provide you with the insider knowledge on Oman, allowing you to visit the places that make this place special. When it comes to books on Oman, this is the only Oman guide book you need. Whether your stay is fleeting, or longer term, The Oman Travel Guide from Grapeshisha will help you get the most out of your trip. In length, this ebook is roughly equivalent to 200 printed pages, accurate for 2015 and suitable for the tourists, business executives and expats visiting for the first time.

The Oman Travel Guide from Zohara and Rahim Hirji is the quintessential guide to Oman and Muscat.

Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Terrorism

There is a constant and high terrorist threat throughout the Arabian Peninsula. From time to time, reports emerge that terrorists plan to attack specific locations in one of these countries. Targets could include government buildings, public areas, tourist sites and Western interests. Heightened security measures are currently in place and may be reinforced upon short notice. Maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness at all times. Exercise caution in areas known to be frequented by foreigners (commercial, public, touristic), monitor local developments and follow the advice of local authorities. You are also advised to register and keep in contact with the Consulate of Canada in Muscat or the Embassy of Canada in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as well as to carefully follow messages issued through the Registration of Canadians Abroad service.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations may occur. Regional developments and socio-economic conditions are usually the main causes of concern. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

Crime

The crime rate is low and violence is rare, including against foreigners. Robbery and auto theft can occur. To reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim, do not show signs of affluence and ensure that personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Do not travel alone after dark.

Lock car doors and keep windows closed. Do not leave vehicles unattended. Inspect both the exterior and interior of your vehicle upon return to detect any attached devices or suspicious packages nearby.

Treat mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with suspicion. Contact the sponsor or the police if you suspect anything unusual.

Women’s safety

There have been reports of physical and verbal harassment toward women travelling alone. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.

Road travel

Exercise caution when driving in rural areas, especially after dark, because of roaming animals, insufficient lighting and speeding drivers.

In the event of an accident, do not move the vehicle until the police have made an official report. In the Governorate of Muscat, however, drivers involved in an accident are now required to move their vehicles to the side of the road to reduce congestion. Traffic regulations specify that anyone deemed responsible for a motor vehicle accident may be held in jail for 48 hours. Consult the Royal Oman Police website for more information on traffic rules.

Off-road driving can be hazardous and should only be undertaken in a convoy of four-wheel-drive vehicles with an experienced guide. Leave a travel itinerary with a relative or friend. Be well prepared and equipped with gasoline, water, food, and a cellular phone if you are considering driving in the desert areas of Wahiba and Rub’ Al Khali.

Exercise caution when using taxis.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Piracy

Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.

General safety information

Carry identification documents at all times. Leave your passport in a safe place and carry a photocopy for identification purposes.

Cellular phone coverage may not be available in some parts of the country.

Emergency services

Dial 9999 for emergencies.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Western Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.


Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Western Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.

Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a limited risk of malaria in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Modern medical care is available in main cities, but could be inadequate in remote areas. Immediate cash payment is often required.

Health tips

Dehydration is a serious risk due to very high temperatures during the summer months. Ensure that you are protected from the sun and drink plenty of water.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

The work week is from Sunday to Thursday.

An international driving permit is recommended.

Illegal or restricted activities

Common-law relationships, homosexual relations, adultery and prostitution are illegal and are subject to severe punishment, including the death penalty.

Avoid physical contact, such as holding hands, in public.

Possession of pornographic material is forbidden.

The use of drugs is prohibited. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict.

Respect restrictions concerning the consumption of alcohol. Do not drink alcohol outside licensed hotels. Public intoxication is advised against.

Prescription or over-the-counter drugs that are legal in Canada, such as codeine, may be restricted in Oman. Possession of such drugs could lead to a jail sentence. Carry your original prescription and the original container for prescription medications.

Follow traffic laws diligently. Penalties for violations, such as driving under the influence of alcohol, excessive speed, and failure to wear seat belts, are stringent. It is forbidden to use cellular phones while driving.

Certain public areas may be restricted to men only or women only.

It is forbidden to photograph certain government buildings and military installations. Do not photograph people without their permission.

Omani authorities do not permit criticism of the government, the sultan, or the society in general.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is not legally recognized, which may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.

Custody

Children of an Omani-national father automatically acquire Omani citizenship at birth and must enter and leave the country on an Omani passport. Child custody decisions are based on Islamic law. It is difficult for a Western woman, even a Muslim, to obtain custody of her children through the Omani courts. Minor children of an Omani-national father must have their father’s permission to leave the country.

Legal process

Suspects as well as witnesses to incidents may be held for lengthy periods without access to legal counsel or consular officials. If access is granted, it may be severely limited by the Omani authorities. Authorities may withhold the passport of an individual involved in a legal process, pending resolution of the case. This could result in the delay of a planned departure.

Dress and behaviour

The country’s customs, laws and regulations adhere closely to Islamic practices and beliefs. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.

Exercise particular care in your behaviour with others, especially officials, to avoid offending local sensitivities. Verbal insults and obscene gestures may be considered a criminal act and, if found guilty, you could face deportation, fines and/or a prison sentence.

Money

The currency is the Omani rial (OMR). Credit cards and U.S. dollar traveller’s cheques are widely accepted.

Climate

The rainy season extends from May to September in the far south, often resulting in flooding. Heavy rains may cause wadis (dry riverbeds) to overflow, flooding underpasses and tunnels.

Oman is subject to cyclones and tropical depressions, which are accompanied by high winds (over 100 km/hr) and heavy rain. During any storm, flash floods and mudslides may occur, causing damage and inaccessibility to numerous transportation routes.

Sand and dust storms also occur.