Traveling Luck for Oman

Oman is located in Middle East, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Persian Gulf, between Yemen and UAE.

Oman has borders with United Arab Emirates for 410km, Saudi Arabia for 676km and Yemen for 288km.

Land in Oman is central desert plain, rugged mountains in north and south.

Omani land covers an area of 212460 square kilometers which is slightly smaller than Kansas

As for the Omani climate; dry desert; hot, humid along coast; hot, dry interior; strong southwest summer monsoon (May to September) in far south.

Omani(s) speak Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects.

Omani National Map

Omani Map

Regions of Oman

In 1970, QABOOS bin Said al-Said ousted his father and has ruled as sultan ever since. His extensive modernization program has opened the country to the outside world and has preserved a longstanding political and military relationship with the UK. Oman's moderate, independent foreign policy has sought to maintain good relations with all Middle Eastern countries.


Oman Country Profile

Oman is a middle-income economy in the Middle East with notable oil and gas resources, a substantial trade surplus, and low inflation. Work on a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility progressed in 2005 and will contribute to slightly higher oil and gas exports in 2006. Oman continues to liberalize its markets and joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in November 2000. To reduce unemployment and limit dependence on foreign labor, the government is encouraging the replacement of foreign expatriate workers with local workers. Training in information technology, business management, and English support this objective. Industrial development plans focus on gas resources, metal manufacturing, petrochemicals, and international transshipment ports. In 2005, Oman signed agreements with several foreign investors to boost oil reserves, build and operate a power plant, and develop a second mobile phone network in the country.

Omani natural resources include petroleum, copper, asbestos, some marble, limestone, chromium, gypsum, natural gas

strategic location on Musandam Peninsula adjacent to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil

Omani religion is Ibadhi Muslim 75%, Sunni Muslim, Shi'a Muslim, Hindu.

Natural hazards in Oman include summer winds often raise large sandstorms and dust storms in interior; periodic droughts.

Travel Advice on Oman

Oman

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Road Safety section (driving outside Muscat).  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • You should be aware of the threat from terrorism.  Al Qa’ida continues to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region.  These include references to attacks on Western interests, including residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests.

  • You should review your security arrangements carefully.  You should remain vigilant, particularly in public places.  You should avoid any large gatherings or demonstrations.

  • Around 95,000 British tourists visit Oman every year.  The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Oman is for road related incidents.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY



Developments in Iraq and on the Middle East Peace Process continue to have an impact on local public opinion in the region.  You should be aware of local sensitivities on these issues.  You should follow news reports and be alert to local and regional developments, which might trigger public disturbances.
You should take sensible precautions for your personal safety and avoid public gatherings and demonstrations.
Road Safety
Driving at night can be dangerous outside Muscat, as there is a risk of hitting camels that stray on the road.  Rental and company vehicles particularly have been vulnerable to robbery in the Thumrait, Marmul and Nimr area of Southern Oman.  If you rent a car, you should take advice on security from the hire company before undertaking travel.  All off road travel should be with at least two vehicles suitably equipped in case of emergencies.  If you are intending such travel, you should take out sufficient insurance to meet the costs of a major rescue operation.
Driving is on the right.  The standards of the roads in Muscat and between Muscat and Nizwa in the interior are good.  Driving standards are generally high, by regional levels, but drivers do tend to speed and tailgate.  Extra vigilance should be taken when driving outside Muscat on main roads, which are not dual carriageways, as drivers can overtake with little consideration for oncoming traffic.
You should not to offend local culture when driving, e.g. through abusive gestures or language.  This can lead to complaints being lodged with the police, who have been taking forward cases of reported insulting behaviour to Omani citizens.
If you are travelling alone by car at night it is prudent (especially if you are a woman) to lock all doors and ensure car windows are closed.
Sea Safety

Many areas of the Gulf are highly sensitive, including near maritime boundaries and the islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs in the southern Gulf.  Vessels entering these areas have been detained and inspected; and there have been occasional arrests.  Mariners should make careful enquiries before entering these waters or considering visiting ports.
On 30 March 2006, a Dhow capsized in Bahrain.  There were 58 fatalities, including 12 British nationals.  You should exercise care when travelling by Dhow, as the safety of these vessels may not be up to UK standards.  You should also ensure that life jackets are available.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

We strongly recommend that British visitors to Oman and British citizens who are resident in Oman carry a copy of their passport or their Omani ID at all times.

Seat belts must be worn in the front seats and you are not allowed to use a mobile phone whilst driving (you can be given an on-the-spot fine).  Speed limits are clearly posted on major roads.  There is a minimum 48 hours in jail for any traffic offence in which the driver tests positive for alcohol.  (The legal blood alcohol level in Oman is close to zero).  Traffic laws in Oman are strictly imposed.

The import (even temporary) of right hand drive vehicles is not allowed.

Oman is a Muslim state and Islamic customs, in public, are strictly observed.

In public, general modesty of behaviour and dress is expected.  Women who wear shorts or tight-fitting clothes, in particular in downtown areas, are likely to attract unwelcome attention.  There have been some reported cases of sexual harassment.

The import and use of narcotics and obscene material are forbidden and can lead to imprisonment.  There are severe penalties for drug offences including, in some cases, the death penalty.  "Soft" drugs are treated as seriously as "hard" drugs.  Possession of cannabis, even in quantities of less than one gram, will bring a minimum prison sentence of 12 months followed by deportation.  Non-Muslims can import alcohol, to a maximum of 2 litres per family.  It can be bought at a duty free shop at the airport on arrival, but within Oman, alcohol can be purchased only by personal licence or at licensed hotels and restaurants.  Pork products are available at specially licensed food outlets.

Homosexual behaviour is illegal in Oman.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

British passport holders can obtain an entry visa upon arrival at any land, sea or air entry port in Oman.  There are two options:
  • A one-month combined tourist/business visa costing 6 Omani Rials (OR).  This can be extended for one month for a further 6 OR;
  • A one year multiple entry visa, which is valid for three weeks, after which nationals must leave Oman for at least three weeks before returning.  The cost for this is 10 OR.
Overstaying without the proper authority can lead to fines of 10 OR per day.  You are advised to check visa requirements well in advance with:  Omani Representation in London
Some prescription medicines common in the United Kingdom are banned in Oman.  If you are travelling to Oman with prescription drugs you should carry a copy of the prescription.  Not to do so can be an offence if the drugs are on the banned list, and the penalties, including prison, can be severe.  If you have any queries, you are advised to check well in advance with Oman's Ministry of Health or with:  Omani Representation in London, from whom a list of banned drugs is available.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact:  Omani Representation in London


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health website at www.dh.gov.uk


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help
You or your tour company should register your presence in Oman with the British Embassy in Muscat.