{{ message }}

Admin Page Edit

Oman

The Middle East Sultanate of Oman (Arabic: ????? ?????) or simply Oman (Arabic: ??????) 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 their country's rapid progress and of 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.

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 denominational religion of Islam in Oman.

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".

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 30-day visa costs 20 rials. You can pay online before arrival at the Royal Oman Police e-visa website (the interface only works with some browsers, try Firefox) or at MCT airport where you need to get the visa from the money changers which add a 1 rial commission. 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. (The 10-day visa for 5 rials was eliminated on 23 April 2017.)

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.

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. 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 and 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. 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.

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 "?????" (ISO currency code OMR). One rial is made up of one thousand baisa (also written baiza, Arabic: ????). 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.

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.


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.

Site issues? Contact Us