Oman is fast becoming the Middle East’s new hot destination for independent travellers seeking to go out and explore for themselves. With a diverse natural environment and as one of the most peaceful countries in the region, it’s easy to understand its popularity. Fortunatley the availability of online visas has made it easier to travel to Oman from the US and other countries.
You will need to know about Oman and Omani culture before you step into the country though.
Oman will bring on the heat
Oman is a sunny country almost all year round, even in the winter months. Muscat as a coastal city is humid and hot by night and by day. When it comes to Salalah’s summer weather, it has more of a chance of rain and is generally mild. Most cities in Oman get very hot during the summer months, but Salalah does have monsoon seasons that bring in the cooler air. It’s essential therefore to check the weather and temperatures in Oman at the time you plan to visit. Be sure to pack light and colourful clothing to combat the heat and intense sun.
Be prepared to dress conservatively
The mountainous terrain is riddled with ravines that channel and store rainwater. These natural phenomena are known as wadis in Arabic, and many of them have formed idyllic swimming holes. Dipping into crystal-clear pools is a must in Wadi Bani Khalid or Wadi Shab. Just like tourists, Omanis enjoy visiting these picturesque and refreshing places, so dressing appropriately is a must. Because Oman is a Muslim country, conservative clothing is the norm, especially for women. Omani women are expected to dress conservatively and this must be respected. While there is more freedom for foreigners, it is still a good idea to wear a t-shirt or shorts over your bathing suit. Since most Omanis travel on weekends, plan to visit wadis on weekdays (Sunday to Thursday) to avoid the crowds and be more mindful of cultural respect. Wearing long pants and covering one’s shoulders outside of the water is considered respectful.
Coffee and dates are an integral part of Omani hospitality
Dates are an essential part of Omani hospitality, along with their traditional coffee, known as Kahwa. Omanis are amiable and always welcome strangers to their homes. It is important to understand that they enjoy welcoming visitors to their country and making them feel at home. When visitors leave, they give them bags of dates and sometimes even sweet desserts. This hospitality is an essential part of Omani culture and it is considered polite and respectful to accept the invitation.
Food and beverages
Omani cuisine typically includes traditional bread, rice, beef, chicken, or fish, special tomato or Omani sauces, and various salads. Omanis usually drink kahwa (traditional cardamom coffee) with dates and halwa (Omani dessert), and they occasionally drink red tea. There are vegan, vegetarian, and other cuisine options at local and international restaurants throughout Oman. Fresh juices and soft drinks are available in restaurants and coffee shops. However, alcohol can be found in international hotels and purchased with a license issued by the city’s police department. My thinking is it’s better to refrain while there.
The country is peaceful and safe
Oman is one of the world’s safest countries. Not only for the outstanding efforts of the police but also for the warm and generous hearts of the Omani people. They are always concerned about their country and its visitors and make them feel welcome even if they are strangers. Oman is one of the world’s few terrorism-free countries, according to the Global Terrorism Index. Generally speaking, visitors do not need to be concerned about their safety.
The weekend is Friday to Saturday
Friday is a holy day for Muslims. On weekends, expect larger crowds at tourist attractions as city dwellers venture out to enjoy their country’s natural beauty.
Language in Oman
Oman’s official language is Arabic. People do, however, speak English. Because Oman is a cultural hub that includes Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, other languages are also widely spoken.
The Omani Rial is the local currency in Oman. One Omani Rial is equivalent to $2.60 USD. It is also equivalent to 2.22 euros and 1.97 GBP. Paper notes in Oman are 100 baisas, 500 baisas, 1 Omani Rial, 5 Omani Rials, 10 Omani Rials, 20 Omani Rials, and 50 Omani Rials. The coins are 5 baisas, 10 baisas, and 50 baisas. Tipping is not necessary in Oman, but visitors are welcome to do so if they want to express their appreciation for good service.
** Pics are sourced on Pixabay and Unsplash.