Muscat

About Oman

Quick Facts

Area:                            309,500 square kilometres

Natural Wealth:              Petroleum, Natural Gas, Agriculture and Fisheries

Currency:                      1 Rial Omani = US$ 2.6008

Population (2010):         2,773,479

Geography

The Sultanate of Oman covers 309,500 km2 with a coastline of approximately 1,700 km and it offers an exciting place to explore.  It is excellent for camping, trekking, hiking and desert adventures.  There are rugged mountains (“jebels”), vast areas of desert, fertile river beds (“wadis”) and beautiful beaches.

Climate

From May to September its very hot, average temperatures are 32 -48C but air conditioning makes it bearable and people still play tennis, golf and walk in the early morning and late afternoon.  The winter temperature are 26 - 36C and very pleasant for all outdoor activities. Rain is occasional and usually torrential.

People and history

The population in Oman is approximately 2,5 million of which around 45% are expatriates (2003 Census). Most inhabitants live along the northern coast in the area called the “Batinah region” from Sohar to Muscat.  The second largest concentration of population occurs in the Dhofar region in the South, around Salalah.

Oman's history has been dramatic and colourful and it has gone from being a major trading nation and imperial power to existing in almost complete isolation.  Today it is regarded as a modern, dynamic country.

The official language of Oman is Arabic but many Omanis also speak very good English. Most road and shop signs are written in both Arabic and English.

Useful Arabic Phrases

 

Arabic

English

As-salaam alaykum

Peace be with you   (Greeting)

Waalaykum salaam

On you be peace     (Reply)

Ma’asalaama

Goodbye

Insh’aallah/Inshalla

If God wishes

Shukran

Thank you

Afwan

You’re welcome

Na’am/Aiwa

Yes

La/Laa

No

 

Cultural Sensitivities

The Omani people are very friendly and welcoming.  Omani women are able to work, drive and walk around unescorted.  Foreigners are free to practice their own religion, the dress code is relatively liberal and alcohol is available in hotels and licensed restaurants.

However, please show respect for the local culture by noting the following cultural sensitivities:

Dress Code

Women should wear dresses or trousers below the knee.  Shoulders and tops of arms should be covered (no plunging necklines, tight or see-through material or bare backs). For women, it is not acceptable to wear shorts or short dresses in public.  During the holy month of Ramadhan, clothing should be even more modest.  In addition, when making trips to the interior, you should be aware that many villagers may be offended if expatriates do not respect this dress code.  The dress code is more relaxed at the PDO beach and club, when participating in sports and at the large hotels.

Children from the age of puberty onwards should be dressed as above. Younger children are free to wear what they like. 

Office attire:  At the office, men wear long trousers (no jeans) with short or long sleeved shirts. Ties are sometimes required when meeting with the Ministries.  Women usually wear long trousers or long skirts  and tops with long or three-quarter length sleeves.

Pork meat

Pork is not included on the Arabic menu as this meat is taboo to a Muslim.  It is available in some restaurants but to prepare and serve pork, restaurants need a separate fridge, equipment, preparation and cooking areas etc..  Some of the branches of Al Fair supermarkets, the ones at Qurum, MQ and Sarooj, have a separate pork room where most pork products can be purchased although the prices are high. Images of pigs can also cause offence.

Alcohol

In Oman, the government gives alcohol licences or permits to hotel outlets and independent restaurants but alcohol cannot be purchased in supermarkets. Permanent residents who are non-Muslims can obtain alcohol supplies under the permit system.

However, it is illegal to carry alcohol on your person or in your vehicle; the only exception being when you are transporting your purchases home directly from the alcohol store or airport duty free. It is also illegal to resell alcohol to others.

Do not drink and drive!  If you have an accident whilst driving under the influence of any amount of alcohol, the penalties are severe and you could face jail and deportation.  It will also invalidate your vehicle insurance.

General sensitivities:

  • Some tasks require a lot of paperwork and red tape so patience is essential.  When asked how much longer any task will take you will often get an answer “insh'Allah”, which means ‘God willing’.
  • Remember that it is not polite to show the soles of your feet.
  • Only use your right hand when offering or receiving anything (money, food, etc.)
  • When offered a cup of coffee, it is polite to accept at least one cup. To indicate that you have had enough coffee, shake the coffee cup slightly with the right hand before returning the cup to the pourer.
  • Expatriate men should not expect Omani women to shake hands.  If an Omani women offers her hand then it is acceptable to shake hands.  Expatriate women should wait for an Omani male to extend his hand before offering her own.
  • When visiting an Omani family do not admire any items in the house because they may feel obliged to give you the item as a gift.
  • Do not take pictures of people, especially women, without obtaining their prior consent. Never photograph military buildings, government ports or airports.

The Nature in OMan

Introduction

Considered a paradise for nature lovers and the ideal destination for a road trip, Oman is one of the most developed and stable countries on the Arabian Peninsula.

Muscat, the capital city of Oman, is the starting point for most holidaymakers. Described as Arabia's jewel, the quaint city is surprisingly green and lush for the capital of a desert country, located in the middle of a mountain range that stretches down to the Arabian Sea.The country is not only tourist friendly, it is also extremely safe. Crime rates are low, howerver, the city still oozes old-world character so it is no surprise that Muscat is increasingly becoming an attractive tourist destination. Of particular interest are the Jalali and Mirani forts, which flank the Al Alam Palace while the Corniche, with its promenade and souks (markets), is another highlight.


Nature areas in Oman:

- Reserves, for example:

Al Jabal Al Akhdhar Sanctuary for Natural Sceneries

As Saleel Nature Park

Al-Dimaniyat Islands Nature Reserve

Dhofar Lagoons

- Valleys ( The Wadi's), for example:

Hawiyat Najm Park

Wadi ArRawdha

Strait of Hormoz


 - Mountains, for example:

Al Jabal Al Akhdar(Green Mountain)

Samhan Mountain

Outpost Muscat

Focal point: Anca Neagoie
Office hours: Focal Point: Amanda Henson Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday, 8.15 to 11.15am (weekend is Friday-Saturday)
Languages: English, Dutch, Mandarin, Malay, French, Hindi, Arabic, German, Spanish
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