Destination Guides

Facts
Capital: Muscat
Population: Oman's population touched 4.155 million by the end of last March with a growth rate of 0.4 per cent.
Conventional Name:  Sultanate of Oman 
Local Name:  Uman 
Chief of State: Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said

National Holidays:
23 July: Renaissance Day
18 November: National Day
19 November: Sultans’ Birthday
 
The following Islamic holidays are based on the lunar calendar: 
Eid Al – Fitr: a 3-day feast marking the end of Ramadan. 
Eid Al- Adha: a 4-day holiday, which is the feast at the end of Haj, or the month of Pilgrimage to Mecca.
First of Muharam: Islamic New Year.
Eid Al Isra Wal Mi'raj: The Prophet Mohammad's night Journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and his ascension to heavens. 
The Birth of Prophet Mohammad

Languages
The official language is Arabic. English is adopted as the second language of Oman; tourists have definitely no difficulty in communicating with the Omani people. In the city, English is greatly used especially in business relations. Some immigrant languages in Oman also include Gujarati, Portuguese, Sindhi, and Somali.

Visa - Do I need a visa to travel to Jordan?
Visa could be obtained online during 2 to 4 working days

Currency / Exchange rate / banking
The country's monetary unit is the Omani Rial; it is divided into 1000 Baisa. Credit cards are widely accepted, although in remote rural areas and the desert you might struggle with them. There are ATMs in all towns and cities of any size. Currency may be exchanged at any bank and most hotels, the exchange rate against the US dollar, 1 OMR = 2.6 US$. Banks are open from Sunday to Thursday, from 08:30 to 15:00. There may be more than one branch, and larger banks have branches in cities and towns throughout the country.

Tipping
Tipping is an accepted part of life in Oman and will be expected by drivers, guides and other people who look after you or offer you some service during your trip. That having been said there is not the same request for tips at every turn that you encounter in some of the other countries of the region. No minimum or maximum measurement for the tipping; it is all left to your personnel evaluation.

Clock Conscious
Oman is 4 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

Business Hours
Most of Oman citizens work five days a week with Friday and Saturday off, but business and shopping hours are flexible. Some establishments are open from 8:00 am - 13:30 and again from 04:00 – 07:30 pm. Others may be open straight through the day from 08:00 to 07:30. Banking hours: 08:00 am till noontime from Saturday to Wednesday..

Weather
he warm season lasts from April 28 to July 24 with an average daily high temperature above 37°C. The hottest day of the year is May 26, with an average high of 40°C and low of 30°C.
The cold season lasts from December 3 to March 3 with an average daily high temperature below27°C. The coldest day of the year is January 18, with an average low of 17°C and high of 24°C.
 
Health
As for the general healthcare situation in the Sultanate of Oman. In the last three (3) decades most probably no other country has achieved so much in such a little time in terms of healthcare in Oman. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos kept his promise in 1970 to put priority in the development of health and education of the country. This is recognized in a study of the World Health Organization (WHO), covering 191 countries and published in the year 2000. The Sultanate of Oman was ranked first in the world for its efficient health system and for effective utilization of the available financial resources in the health services. Additionally Oman was also rated eight (8) for providing the most comprehensive healthcare at world level.

Clothing
Foreigners are generally made to feel very welcome in Oman, although in return you’ll be expected to abide scrupulously by Omani cultural norms. This remains a deeply traditional – and in many ways very conservative – country, and despite its sometimes superficially westernized appearance and growing openness to tourists, old attitudes run extremely deep.
   
Behavior
The way of life in Oman has massively changed over the last century. During 1900 most of the people lived off the land in an oasis, the desert, or along the coast. The people had little in the way of education and traditional life ruled the region. However, with the discovery of oil and more recently with educational, infrastructural, and other political changes, the culture and way of life has vastly changed.
Today every child in Oman has access to education and this is an important part of life. Many people have also moved to cities as modern amenities in these growing coastal communities make life much easier than it ever was. Advanced healthcare has extended lives and infrastructure makes transportation much easier.
Today the way of life in the country is a balance between the modern conveniences of the world with the clothing, traditions, and culture of the past. With each passing year there are more jobs in the services and industrial sectors, moving people from a living based off the land and seas. These new occupations also offer more regular working hours as most people tend to work from about 8:00 am to about 7:00 pm, but with a long lunch break during the hottest hours of the day, from about 1:00 to 4:00 pm, when nearly everything shuts down.
Taboo subjects
Conversations in Oman generally run along well-regulated lines – your country, age, marital status, number of children (if any), religion, profession, reasons for visiting Oman and impressions of the country being the usual topics.
 
Pride in their country is strong among Omanis, and criticisms of the nation of any type will not be well received (unless, perhaps, you are simply agreeing with an opinion expressed by your host). Negative statements about Islam should be even more strenuously avoided. In addition, if asked your own religion, it’s easiest to profess Christianity, even if in fact you believe in nothing of the sort, given that concepts of atheism, agnosticism and alternative religions are not widely understood. Political discussion – except of the most general and harmless kind – also remains a sensitive subject to be approached with extreme care, while criticisms of Sultan Qaboos are a definite no-go.
 
Women travelers
Women travelling in Oman should experience few problems, although the sight of unaccompanied Western females, either solo or in pairs, is still something of a novelty in most parts of the country. Hassles are rare (assuming you dress conservatively – particularly crucial if travelling without a male companion), albeit not unknown, particularly in Muscat. On the downside, solo women travelers may feel particularly isolated, given that most Omani men will, out of respect, tend to studiously ignore you, while it’s difficult to make friends with Omani women, at least without local contacts.

Photography
One hour developing is widely available. All sorts of films, cameras, disposable cameras, camcorders are available. Like in any country, it is advisable that one asks permission before photographing strangers. Do not photograph anything to do with the military or government buildings - also avoid photographing bridges and canals, or anything that could be construed as having strategic significance. Ask people if they mind before photographing them.
 
Food
Most of the food served up in Omani cafés and restaurants comprises a mix of Arabian standards (shwarma, kebabs and meze) alongside the ubiquitous biryani and other lackluster Indian and Pakistani-style fare.
Arabian (aka “Lebanese”) food is based mainly on grilled meats. If you want to eat cheaply and well in Oman, your best bet is the humble shwarma, spit-roasted chicken and/or beef carved off and served wrapped in bread with salads – the Gulf version of the doner kebab (also served laid out on a piece of bread on a plate with chips and salad – the so-called “shwarma plate”). A simple shwarma sandwich usually goes for under 0.4 OR, and two or three make a satisfying light meal. The fact that the meat is being spit-roasted in public also means that you can see what you’re getting and how it’s being cooked.
 
Other Lebanese- and Turkish-style grilled kebabs are also reasonably common and often as good as anything in the country – places styling themselves as “Turkish” cafés/restaurants are often the best for this sort of food. Common dishes include the Lebanese shish taouk (chicken kebabs served with garlic sauce) and Turkish-style kofte (minced spiced lamb) kebabs. Most kebabs are served with Arabian-style flatbread (khubz) and a bowl of hummus, while some places also offer other classic Lebanese meze.
 
Along with the shwarma, the other staple of Omani cooking is the biryani. This doesn’t bear a great deal of relation to its fancier Indian and Persian cousins, usually being little more than a leg of chicken buried in rice flavored with a few whole spices and bits of roasted onion. As a staple dish, it’s usually good value and often quite tasty. Other similar biryani-style dishes you may encounter include the Afghan-style kabuli (or qabooli), the Saudi kabsa (kebsa, kibsa – also known as maqboos or machbus) and the Yemeni mandi. In theory, each of these regional variants has its own distinct character and manner of preparation (the meat used in kabsa and mandi, for instance, is traditionally slow-cooked in a tandoor oven dug in the ground, although obviously this is unlikely to be the case in your local Omani café). In practice, however, these dishes are prepared in so many different ways that it’s impossible to generalize about exactly what to expect, beyond a basic combination of meat and rice, mildly spiced.
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Drinking
European coffee. Arabic coffee is traditionally served in tiny handle-less cups, without milk and sugar but flavored with spices usually including cardamom and/or cloves – intense, aromatic and slightly bitter. The serving and drinking of coffee is an important element of traditional Omani hospitality, and it’s not uncommon even now to enter a hotel lobby or other public place and see a coffee-pourer wandering about with a traditional metal coffeepot (dallah) and tray of dates. If offered coffee in a social situation, it is considered polite to accept one cup as a symbol of accepting the offered hospitality, even if you don’t really want it. Your cup will be refilled whenever you empty it, although it’s considered impolite to take more than three cups. When you’ve finished, shake the cup gently from side to side and say “Bas, shukran” (“Enough, thank you”). More conventional coffee, often described as “Nescafe”, is also available, as is tea (shay; usually a Lipton’s tea-bag). Fruit juices are also often good.