Southeast the Arabian Peninsula.
309.501 Sq. Km.
Oman has several islands such as Salama Island, Halanyat and Masirah Islands in the Arabian Sea. and it is the third largest country in the Arabian Peninsula. The Musandam Peninsula forms the country’s northern tip, and includes the only coast the Sultanate has on the Arabian Gulf. Musandam is just over 50 Km south of the Islamic Republic of Iran across the Strait of Hormuz.
Oman At Glance
Capital : Muscat
Oman’s history tells stories of heroism, courage, wisdom, patriotism, love and devotion to homeland. This brings us closer to understanding the richness of the Omani cultural experience which has contributed to the building of modern Oman.
Oman’s strategic location has played a major role in many campaigns and regional conflicts in this region. Oman overlooks the Arabian Sea, the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Gulf. It also controls the Strait of Hormuz, which is one of the most important facilities in the region, linking the Sea of Oman with the Arabian Gulf. The Strait of Hormuz is a gateway to all ships coming from the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.
Al Wattih in Muscat Governorate is one of the first inhabited cities. Modern archaeological discoveries suggest that humans settled in it during the Stone Age, i.e. more than 10,000 years ago.
The Babylonians and the Assyrians settled in Oman because they wanted to control the trade route that linked Asia to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
With the spread of Islam, and Mazin Bin Gadhubah joining Islam as the first person in Oman and his emigration to Medina to meet the Prophet, Peace be upon Him, the first mosque was built in Oman. This is Al Midhmar Mosque that still stands to this day in Wilayt Samail . These events paved the way for the two kings of Oman at that time, Jua’fer and Abd Ibni Al Jalandi, to enter Islam wholeheartedly and with utter conviction after receiving a letter from the Prophet, Peace be upon Him. A Hadith mentions that the Prophet, Peace be upon Him, said “God’s mercy be on the people of Al Ghubaira” (i.e. the people of Oman). “They have believed in me although they had not seen me”. Also stated in the sermon our Master Abu Bakr Al-Sidiq, the caliph of the Prophet, Peace be upon Him, to the people of Oman: “People of Oman you, you have entered Islam voluntarily although the Prophet has not come to your land on foot or on horse. You have not opposed him as other Arabs opposed him, and you have not called for separation or dispersion. May God unite you in benevolence.”
With the election of Ibn Masood, the first imam, in 751 AD, the Imamate era began in Oman and lasted four centuries until 1154. Several attempts were made to restore the rule of the Imamate in Oman in the mid-fifteenth century, but did not succeed.
During the period 1498-1507 AD, the Portuguese tried to control Oman. Omani history tells the story of the Omani people who expelled the Portuguese with their struggle and heroism. Nasser bin Murshid was elected Imam in 1624.
Because of the coastal location of Oman, the Omani navy occupied a leading position regionally. This sparked the ire of the Portuguese, who did not forget their devastating defeat. Fierce battles erupted between the Portuguese Navy (which had made India its base after the liberation of Oman) and the strong Omani navy. After a fierce battle, the Omani fleet was able to defeat the Portuguese fleet.
In 1698, the Omani Empire then expanded to include the cities of the African east coast, stretching from Mombasa to Kila, Zanzibar, Pemba and Bata. Mozambique remained under Portuguese rule until the twentieth century.
Oman had been the target of a number of attempts by the Persians to invade its territory, but the steadfastness and heroism of the Omanis were successfully combined to defeat the occupier. The invaders were defeated, underscoring the exploits of Omani heroes in defending their lands. This great victory was achieved at the hands of Imam Ahmed bin Saeed Al Busaidi, who defeated the Persians and was elected imam.
With the advent of 1970 came the dawn of a modern renaissance in the Sultanate, with the beginning of the prosperous era of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, may God protect him.
Almost 3.6 Million.
Arabic is the official language of Oman. It belongs to the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family. Baluchi (Southern Baluchi) is widely spoken in Oman. Endangered indigenous languages in Oman include Kumzari, Bathari, Harsusi, Hobyot, Jibbali and Mehri. Omani Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. Oman was also the first Gulf state to have German taught as a third language.
According to the CIA, besides Arabic, English, Baluchi (Southern Baluchi), Urdu, and various Indian dialects are the main languages spoken in Oman. English is widely spoken in the business community and is taught at school from an early age. Almost all signs and writings appear in both Arabic and English. Baluchi is the mother tongue of the Baloch people from Balochistan in western-Pakistan, eastern Iran, and southern Afghanistan. It is also used by some descendants of Sindhi sailors. A significant number of residents also speak Urdu, due to the influx of Pakistani migrants during the late 1980s and the 1990s. Additionally, the Bantu Swahili is widely spoken in the country due to the historical relations between Oman and Zanzibar.
The Oman government does not keep statistics on religious affiliation, but virtually all Omanis are Muslims, of whom nearly half follow the Ibadi School of Islam, which is very close to mainstream Islam. It is the only remaining expression of Kharijism, which was created as a result of one of the first schisms within the religion. Historically, Ibadi has been one of the noteworthy Omani religious sects, and the Sultan is a member of the Ibadi community.
Virtually all non-Muslims in Oman are foreign workers. Non-Muslim religious communities include various groups of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Baha’is, and Christians. Christian communities are centred in the major urban areas of Muscat, Sohar, and Salalah and include Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and various Protestant congregations, organizing along linguistic and ethnic lines. More than 50 different Christian groups, fellowships, and assemblies are active in the Muscat metropolitan area, formed by migrant workers from Southeast Asia.
There are also communities of ethnic Indian Hindus and Christians. Muscat has two Hindu temples. One of them is over a hundred years old. There is also a significant Sikh community in Oman. Though there are no permanent gurdwaras, many smaller gurdwaras in makeshift camps exist and are recognised by the government. The Government of India had signed an accord in 2008 with the Omani government to build a permanent gurdwara but little progress has been made on the matter.
The varied geography of Oman resulted in a wide variety of climatic conditions. Although lying in the tropics, The Sultanate is subject to seasonal changes like the more temperate regions of the world.
During the winter it is cool and pleasant, but summer at the coast is hot and humid. The interior remains hot and dry, except for the mountains where temperature can drastically drop at night.
The hottest months are June through August. Summer monsoon touches the southern coast of Dhofar during these months bringing regular light rain, resulting in a cool and misty summer.
Rainfall varies but in general remains sparse and irregular. In the south, most of the year’s rainfall occurs during the summer monsoon months. In the north, the opposite occurs. Here most rain comes from occasional winter storms which descend out of the eastern Mediterranean during the months of January through March, depositing an annual average of 10 cm of rain on the capital area.
Lightweight cottons are advisable throughout the year, with a warm wrap for cooler winter evenings, mountain excursions and overworked air-conditioning in shops and restaurants.
Jan – Dec : GMT + 4 Hours.
7:30/8:00am-2:00pm Saturday through Wednesday.
8:00am-1:00pm and 4:00pm-7:00/7:30pm, except Friday evening.
Most businesses are closed on Thursday afternoon.
Some shops in Muscat open in the evening on Friday.
Bank opening hours
8:00am-noon Saturday to Wednesday.
Money changers keep roughly the same hours and in addition, are usually open from around 4:00pm to 7:00pm. Some moneychangers may also be open on Friday afternoon from 4:30 or 5:00 for an hour or two.
Religious and Public Holidays
The days vary according to the Hijrah year: Prophet’s birthday – Al Isra’a Wal mira’ag -Eid Al Fitr-Eid Al Adha & the New Hijrah year.
220 – 240 Volts at 50 cycles.
Air: Muscat International airport
Road: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Sea: Sultan Qaboos port, port of Salalah, port of Sohar, port of Khasab, port of Shinas, port of Duqm and Mina al Fahal.
The rial (Arabic: ريال) is the currency of Oman. It is divided into 1000 baisa (also written baiza, Arabic: بيسة).
Before 1940, the Indian rupee and the Maria Theresa Thaler (known locally as the rial) were the main currencies circulating in Muscat and Oman, as the state was then known, with rupees circulating on the coast and Thaler in the interior. Maria Theresa Thaler were valued at 230 paisa, with 64 paisa equal to the rupee.
In 1940, coins were introduced for use in Dhofar, followed, in 1946, by coins for use in Oman. Both coinages were denominated in baisa (equivalent to the paisa), with 200 baisa to the rial and the Indian rupee, from 1959, the Gulf rupee continued to circulate.
In 1970, the rial Saidi (not to be confused with Saudi riyal) was made the currency of Oman. It was equal to the British pound and replaced the Gulf rupee at a rate of approximately 21 rupees to the rial. The new rial was subdivided into 1000 baisa. The rial Omani replaced the rial Saidi at par in 1973. The currency name was altered due to the regime change in 1970 and the subsequent change of the country’s name.
Oman holds a number of festivals and events to boost tourism in the country. Many of these feature its rich culture and arts. The Muscat Festival held during its peak tourist season of January is the largest festival held in the capital showcasing the best in culture and the arts. Salalah has its own version held during its own peak season, Khareef season (mid-year).
The Muscat Festival is one of the biggest events, perhaps the biggest, in the country’s tourism and cultural calendar. Held every January and February, the festival showcases Omani culture and heritage through artistic and cultural activities. There is also a circus and a large concert featuring local and international musical artists.
Traditional Boat Races
Also happening early in the year are boat races and sailing competitions to celebrate Oman’s seafaring traditions. A Dubai–Muscat Regatta is held every January which see boats sailing from Dubai through the Straits of Hormuz toward Muscat. Boat races are also held in February wherein traditional boats such as dhows compete for a prize.
A much awaited event organized by the International Game Fish Association is the Sindbad Classic. This event sees game fishing enthusiasts from all over the globe battle it out in a deep sea fishing contest in the waters of Oman.
Salalah Tourism Festival
While July and August may be too hot for a visit in northern Oman, these months are great for Salalah and the surrounding areas. During this time of the year, the region experiences Khareef season, a time when monsoon rains bring in life to the land, making for stunning tropical landscapes. This high tourist season is the time when cultural celebrations and parades are held in and around town to entertain both locals and tourists.
Cultural Theater Program
The Cultural Theater Program is an arts and culture festival organized by the Ministry of Tourism. Various performances such as folkloric music and dancing are held from December through to March at the Al Flayj Castle Theater and the Al Morooj Theater, both in Salalah.
Food and Drink
The cuisine of Oman is a mixture of several staples of Asian foods. Dishes are often based on chicken, fish, and lamb, as well as the staple of rice. Most Omani dishes tend to contain a rich mixture of spices, herbs, and marinades. Although Omani cuisine varies within different regions of Oman, most dishes across the country have a staple of curry, cooked meat, rice, and vegetables. Soups are also common and are usually made from chicken, lamb, and vegetables (e.g., smoked eggplant). The main meal is usually eaten in the middle of the day, while dinner is lighter.
• Harees is wheat mixed with meat.
• Kahwa is an Omani coffee mixed with cardamom powder, often served as a symbol of hospitality. It is often served with dates and Omani halwa.
• Kebab is a dish of curried meat (usually chicken or beef) barbecued or grilled, served with a side of vegetables.
• Mashuai is a dish consisting of a whole spit-roasted kingfish, served with a side of lemon rice.
• Machboos is a rice dish flavored with saffron and cooked over spicy meat.
• Muqalab is tripe and pluck cooked with a variety of spices, including cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, ginger, garlic, and nutmeg.
• Shuwa is a meal eaten only on festive occasions. The dish consists of a whole cow or goat roasted in a special oven, which is a pit dug in the ground. This is usually a communal activity by an entire village. The meat is flavored with a variety of spices, then wrapped in sacks made of dry leaves, which are in turn placed into the oven.
• Sakhana is a thick soup made from wheat, dates, molasses, and milk, typically eaten during Ramadan.
• Coffee is the national beverage, while tea is drunk for hospitality. Other popular beverages include laban (a kind of salty buttermilk), yoghurt drinks, and soft drinks
Vaccinations and Health
For vaccinations, please check with health authorities in your home country before traveling. While travelers may experience mild stomach discomfort or diarrhea, no serious health threats exist in Oman. Anti-diarrhea medication may be helpful.
Omani silver Khanjar (daggers).
Traditional Omani silver jewelers.
Omani Coffee pots.
Frankincense and myrrh.
The dishdasha and kumah.
Nawafir makes it easy to rent a car, jeep, or four-wheel-drive vehicle, with or without a driver. An international driver’s license is usually required, and in high season advance notice is almost always required as demand for cars exceeds their availability.
Useful Information for Travelers
Photography: As a general rule if you want to photograph people or places it is always better to ask first. Do not take pictures of any government installations, Embassies buildings, or anything else that might be considered off-limits to visitors.
Safety: Oman is a safe and friendly place to travel. Omanis are unfailingly helpful and it is generally safe to walk around at any time of the day or night. It is, of course, sensible to take obvious precautions: look after your belongings and keep valuables in the hotel safe. Lost property should be reported to the police without delay. If you lose your passport, you should contact your embassy.