Facts for visitors: Helpful information for business and leisure travellers


ETIQUETTE: Omanis are known for their warm hospitality. In the likely event that you are invited to take part in a meal with locals, it is customary for them to pay. Guests should be the first to eat, while the host will generally wait until everyone has begun eating. A handshake is the accepted greeting for both men and women, but it is recommended that businessmen wait for a woman to offer her hand first to shake.

DRESS: Traditionally, Omani men wear a simple, ankle-length white robe called a dishdasha, with either a kummah (woven cap, worn daily) or a mussah (turban, used for special occasions and as more formal headwear). Women’s dress differs depending on the region, but generally consists of a long dress and a headscarf. There are no restrictions on expatriate dress in Oman, although modesty is recommended, and business suits are the norm for Western business men and women.

LANGUAGE: Oman’s official language is Arabic though English is widely spoken and often used as the primary means of communication. Road signs are usually in both Arabic and English. Hindi and Urdu are also widely spoken due to the large Indian and Pakistani expatriate populations. Swahili, used by those of Zanzibari and East African origin, is a reminder of Oman’s historical sphere of influence. Semitic dialects, closely related to Arabic, are found in the Dhofar region. Kumzari, a sub-branch of Persian, is spoken in Musandam.

WORKING HOURS: In a bid to better align itself with the international working week, both the public and private sectors have adopted a Sunday-to-Thursday working week. Banks and government offices are open 7.30am-2.30pm while most private sector companies have working hours between 9.00am and 5.00pm. During Ramadan, restaurants are closed during the day.

CURRENCY: The Omani rial is the world’s third-highest-valued currency, and is pegged to the dollar at OR1:$2.597. ATMs are common and accept most major credit and debit cards, as do many shops and restaurants. The exchange counters at the souq in Muttrah tend to offer better rates than most hotels and banks.

HEALTH: It is important to have health insurance before visiting the country. The free public health care system is available to Omani nationals only, excluding cases of emergency. The quality of private health care is very good and up to international standards. Oman is generally a cost-effective place to undergo specialised medical procedures, such as dental treatment, laser eye surgery or aesthetic medical treatments.

VISA: Nationals of 67 countries, including Australia, Canada, EU members and the US, can obtain a one-month visa on arrival for OR20 ($52). This can be extended by one month with official approval. Visitors of some nationalities who arrive from Dubai can receive a free three-week visa that is extendable by one week. A fine of OR10 ($26) per day is imposed for staying beyond the validity date of a visa.

COMMUNICATIONS: The international telephone country code for Oman is +968. There are two main mobile phone operators, Omantel and Nawras, which offer both fixed-line and mobile services. Mobile virtual network operator licences have also been awarded to other mobile resellers, such as FRiENDi and Samatel. All operators offer SIM cards that can be activated within minutes after purchase.

Internet hotspots can be easily found in coffee shops. The mobile operating companies also offer prepaid mobile internet, which guarantees immediate web access over the 3G network. This is a simple, relatively inexpensive and time-effective solution, as it generally takes several months to get either a fixed-line or a broadband connection installed.

ELECTRICITY: Oman’s electrical outlets are 220-240V; 50Hz. British-style three-pronged plugs are used in a number of facilities. However, most electrical equipment is of the European two-pronged type.

TRANSPORT: Taxis are common, as public transportation is not widely used. They tend to congregate around hotels and shopping centres, but can also be hailed from the street. Taxis are not metered so it important to agree what the journey should cost beforehand.

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Cover of The Report: Oman 2014

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