OMANI RIAL (OMR)
Oman’s landscapes consist of vast deserts, magical canyons, breathtaking cliffs, and indented mountain ranges and great coastline along the Arabian Sea. Wahiba Sands is a region inhabited by Bedouins, adding to its cultural heritage. This Arabian treasure of a country also houses the largest canyon in the country, Wadi Ghul, which is more than one kilometre deep. This canyon is often referred to as the 'The Grand Canyon of Arabia'.
Oman, officially the Sultanate of Oman, is a beautiful country located on the south-eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia.
This Arab country is known for its interesting landscapes, and for having some of the hottest climates in the world.
WHY WE LOVE
Oman is a perfect destination for adventure travellers. We love Oman’s striking landscapes and stunning natural landmarks. This small but mighty country is full of natural attractions that facilitate all kind of activities and adventures. Travellers have access to wonderful outdoor activities in many different types of habitats. Oman has a lot to offer, if you’re interested in mountain travel you can go hiking, rock-climbing and camping in Oman’s majestic mountains, or if you’re interested in travelling along Oman’s beautiful coast you can enjoy water activities such as swimming, surfing, diving, snorkelling, and or boat rides. The Omani coast not only has big exciting waves but charming beaches as well.
Oman also has a lot of desert, meaning that you can embark on a journey filled with sand dunes, Bedouins, and dune-boarding.
The north-eastern as well as the southern region of Oman features fantastical deserts filled with interesting cultural and historical aspects of Omani desert tradition. These areas are also filled with wildlife. Hopefully, you’ll be lucky enough to spot some indigenous mammals include the Arabian leopard, hyena, fox, wolf, hare, oryx, and ibex. The nation is home to an impressive nine endangered species of mammals, five endangered types of birds, and nineteen threatened plant species.
"Oman overall has great animal and plant biodiversity because it has mountains, desert, coastal areas and rich coral reefs.”
Saadi, Iranian Poet
Did you know…?
- Nearly half the Omani population, 46%, is made up of expatriates.
- Oman is one of the oldest independent Arab states in the world.
- Oman was once colonized by the Portuguese for almost 150 years up until 1650.
- There is no income tax in Oman.
- 82% of Oman is desert.
- Oman once had an Empire that stretched from parts of Pakistan to Zanzibar, modern day Mozambique, and parts of the United Arab Emirates.
- Oman has a very rare oral non-Arabic language as Shahri. This language exists in Dhofar and does not have a written form.
- Omani licence plates are colour-coded. Red means the vehicle is commercial, whereas yellow means the vehicles are privately-owned, and white are Government vehicles.
OMAN travel guide
When to go
Oman’s climate is typical of the Arabian Peninsula with its unbearably hot summers and pleasantly mild, Mediterranean winters. The summer months can be brutal (April/May to September/October) and almost every region in the country reaches scorching temperatures. May to July are the hottest months and temperatures can reach up to 40°C (100 °F) and or more. Avoid going to Oman during this period, except for Salalah, where temperatures remain bearable because of the annual ‘khareef’ aka monsoon, which descends from mid-June to late September.
In short, try to visit the Omani coast and interior from November until the end of February, unless of course you love blistering heat.
How to get there/around
Getting to Oman is relatively hassle free considering you can fly into Muscat International Airport or Salalah International Airport either through the national carrier of Oman Air, or a handful of other Middle Eastern operators such as Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad. All operators offer flights with one plane change.
Once you land in Oman you will have a handful of domestic flight options, there are airports located in Duqm, Sohar, and Khasab.
Although there are no trains in Oman there are public buses* that get travellers to main cities. Please keep in mind that bus routes are limited and if you’re interested in discovering the outskirts or lesser travelled regions of the country you must look for alternative methods of travel.
The best way to see the country is by renting a four-wheel-drive vehicle and or hiring a driver. This allows for optimum flexibility, make sure to ask a local and or your hotel for a trusted recommendation.
Cabs are also available (please see our Insights section for more information).
*Women can only sit next to other women and if the bus is filled with men who have taken up all the seats, a woman is expected to stand until an entire row clears and or the man moves in order to accommodate the woman.
What to see & do
Oman is an adventure traveller’s dream. This nation located on the Arabian Peninsula has deserts, riverbed oases, fjords, and long coastlines along the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman.
If you’re interested in hiking, canyoning, and discovering natural wonders Jabal Shams is a place to visit.
This mountain range is the highest in Oman and is the first and last place to see the Sun. Jabal Shams is home to incredible crevices like those found in Snake Gorge. The gorge, wadi, is also known as Wadi Bimah and is a popular stop for hikers and adventurers. It’s famous for its fantastic routes that lead to small cliffs where you can jump into beautiful water pools. Not to mention, there are also natural waterslides in the region! There are also fjords in the North, there you will be able to see dolphins as well as whales partake in some of the best scuba diving the peninsula has to offer.
The desert mustn’t be forgotten either, if you’re interested in cultural heritage we suggest you look into places inhabited by Bedouins such as Wahiba Sands.
The dunes are perfect for sandboarding and tea sharing. There are also many ports which are home to stunning mosques such as the contemporary Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Oman has everything from desert regions brimming with wildlife to mosques, and landmark peaks for hiking and off-roading.
What to pack
- Light long sleeves shirt (or one that covers up to your elbow)
- Breathable long pants/trousers (or ones long enough to cover your knee)
- Polar fleece and thick bottoms (for those who intend on camping in the desert at night)
- Sun hat
- Lightweight scarf and or pashmina (for all genders)
- Maxi dresses and or long skirts
- Modest swimsuit
- Comfortable walking sandals
- Light hiking sneakers
- Water shoes
- Detailed letter from doctors if traveling with prescription drugs
Where to go
Some travel insights from our experts about OMAN
- Oman is famous for the frankincense trees or boswellia sacra, which they export to different countries around the world. It is known for its high quality and unique fragrance. Omanis homes are always filled with the scent of the frankincense as it is burnt in every room of the house. That’s why sometimes walking in the streets, you will smell the frankincense. Nevertheless, visitors don’t need to worry, the burning doesn’t produce lots of smoke, but they must be careful if they are allergic to strong scents.
- The only mosque that can be visited by non-Muslims is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
Do: Dress conservatively. Oman is a conservative Muslim country where the men usually wear the dishdashi which is a long piece of white and/or coloured cloth that covers them all the way down to their ankles whereas women usually wear colourful long dresses with matching scarves. Travellers are not obligated to dress in traditional Omani clothing.
Do: Don’t shorten a local’s name unless they have specifically told you to do so. When in doubt always use the person’s full name (first and last) when referring to them.
Do: Use your right hand when drinking and eating while out in public, not left.
Do: Ask for permission before entering a mosque.
Do: Check out the traditional silverware, frankincense, and or a women Omani wool scarf from local markets and do bargain if you wish to buy before heading back home. Also, try complimentary coffee and dates offered at hotels.
Don’t: Create large crowds, shout, and or speak loudly while on the street. Omanis have special places called “Majilis” or “Sabla” where they come together to discuss current events and or share news. Creating noise on the streets might disturb locals.
Don’t: Reject gifts, refreshments, and or efforts at hospitality. Omani’s pride themselves on their hospitality, gift giving and hosting not only makes them happy but connects you to the local culture as well.
Don’t: Flirt with local women.
Don’t: Litter, ever. Omani people are very proud of their land and try to keep their country as clean and peaceful as possible, it is up to you to help them in this effort.
Don’t: Step and or walk on a prayer mat. You should also avoid walking in front of any person at prayer and or staring at them.
Cuisine delights: 3 MUST-TRY OMANI DISHES
Majboos, also known as Kabsa and Makboos, is a traditional rice dish that originated in Saudi Arabia. This dish consists of rice, usually basmati, and is mixed with vegetables, meat or chicken as well as many spices. Majboos is famous in the Arab world especially in the Gulf countries where it is eaten daily and can be found in any traditional eatery. The dish is served with either yoghurt or green salad, traditional bread and tomato sauce.
Mashuai is a tasty fish dish that consists of grilled kingfish cooked and served in a savoury lemon sauce. This traditional dish contains all the classic Omani spices, coriander, cumin, black pepper, turmeric, etc and has a unique and very distinct flavour. Seafood lovers should not miss an opportunity to taste this fabulous food.
Shuwa is another popular dish among many Arab nations although every region tends to put their own spin on the grilled meat dish. This favourite is often prepared for special occasions like Eid, Muslim festival, due to the meat’s long prepping and cooking process. Omanis sometimes need two to three days in order to ensure the Shuwa is cooked correctly, this long multiday process is especially seen during Eid. Shuwa is prepared by first putting the meat in a marinade of Omani spices, then wrapping it in banana leaves or palm leaves to later be put in an underground sand oven, where it gets cooked over one to two days. This process is long but well worth the wait, Shuwa is one of the tastiest dishes around.
CHATTING CORNER – SURVIVAL GUIDE - ARABIC
- Hello - marhaban/ 'ahlan wa sahlan
- How are you? - kayf halik/kayf al hal
- Fine, thank you - bi-khayr, al-Hamdu lillah
- What is your name? – maa ismuk?
- My name is …. – Ismii…
- Where are you from? - min ayi balad 'ant
- I am from …. - 'ana min …
- How much is it? - bikam?
- Where is …? - ayna...?
- Do you speak English? - hal tatahadath al'inglezi?
- Thank you - shukraan
- Please - min faDlik
- Nice to meet you – tasharrafna
- Bon appétit - shahiat jayida
- Excuse me - afwan
- Beautiful - jamila
- Delicious – ladhidh
- Yes – naam or aywa (colloquial)
- No – laa
- Mountain - jabal
- Valley - wadi
- Coffee - qahwah
- Tea - chay
- Camel – jamal