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 Social Customs



Shaking hands


Shaking hands is the usual form of greeting in Oman. When visiting the country it is important that women dress modestly; i.e. mid-length skirts or dresses (below the knee) with long sleeves. Tight-fitting clothes should be avoided as they may cause offense. Shorts should never be worn in public by men or women and beachwear is prohibited anywhere except on the beach.




Littering is forbidden. Visitors should ask permission before attempting to photograph people or their property. The Omanis are a very polite people and, even when highly offended, will rarely mention it to guests in their country. It therefore behooves all visitors to respect their hosts and be careful not to cause unnecessary offense.




Omanis are justly proud of their heritage and history, which goes back thousands of years. In order to safeguard this precious birthright and the long established traditions of Omani society, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos directed that a Ministry of National Heritage and Culture be established in 1976.



If you are someone who has an understanding and appreciation of history, arts, architecture and the intricacies of a civil society, Oman is the place for you. From the ancient city of Nizwa to the towns along the coast to the Capital to Salalalah, all seeped in history, you can experience Oman's sense of timelessness.

The Sultanate enjoys an unspoiled culture and traditional lifestyle in almost every aspect. Even in its modernity, Oman is distinctly Arabic and offers many unique old-world wonders.



Food & Drink

International restaurants are found all over Oman, from fast-food outlets to fusion cooking, haute cuisine dining to hamburgers. Prices range, and a three course meal can be found to suit any budget. Most hotels will have a number of international restaurants providing food from the likes of Mexico, France, Thailand, Japan and Indonesia.


Traditional Omani Food is fairly simple, but by using various marinades and impregnating meat with spices, the result is a mouth-watering concoction which stimulates the tastebuds. Chicken, fish and mutton are regularly used in dishes. A favourite drink is laban, a salty buttermilk. Yoghurt drinks, flavoured with cardamom and pistachio nuts are also very popular. Alcohol may be purchased in the hotel bars and restaurants and certain independent restaurants.


Ramadhan in Oman


During the holy period of Ramadan, a month of fasting is observed when Muslims abstain from food, drink and cigarettes during daylight hours. Non-muslims are asked to respect those fasting by not eating, drinking or smoking in public places. Hotels provide screened off rooms for non-fasters. Bars are closed and no alcohol is served. Dress code should be strictly observed.


NOTE: It may be the case that during the holy month of Ramadan certain restaurants, tours, hotel facilities, entertainment and other tourist services may not be available or may be available in a restricted or in an abridged manner. Accordingly customers should consider this when making their holiday decisions. The month of Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim Calendar. It is the period during which Muslims commemorate the revelation of the first verses of the Holy Quran. Ramadan generally commences around mid October and will last for 30 days.


Oman’s environment


Northern mountains


Parallel to Oman’s northern coastline runs a great mountain chain, folded and thrust up over millions of years as Arabia collided with Eurasia. At its heart lies the Jabal al-Akhdar, the ‘green mountain’, which rises over 3,000 m above sea level at its highest point. In the winter months the summit can occasionally be dusted with light snowfall.



Cutting deep into the mountains are hundreds of wadis, or valleys. Being a desert country, water usually only flows along the river beds for a few hours every year, directly following rainfall. When rainfall is heavy or a wadi very narrow, flash floods can occur. For several weeks or even months after rain, pools remain.


Sand desert


Along Oman’s western border lies the edge of the Rub al-Khali, or Empty Quarter. This enormous sand desert covers nearly 600,000 sq km (over 225,000 sq mi), roughly the area of France. Oman also has the Sharqiyah, or Eastern, Sands, of just 9,400 sq km.

Turtle nesting beaches


Oman has some of the world’s most important turtle nesting beaches, particularly for the endangered loggerhead and green turtles. Over 20,000 female green turtles nests on the beaches around Ras al-Hadd. Oman is tackling the tricky issue of developing the beaches as a tourist attraction whilst attempting to ensure that the turtles remain undisturbed as far as possible.

Arabian tahr


One of Oman’s first formal conservation projects in the early 1970s was selection of Wadi Sareen, 45 km south of Muscat, as the best site for protection of the endangered Arabian tahr. The tahr is a wild goat, found only in northern Oman and the United Arab Emirates. There are believed to be a total of 2,000 tahr living high on steep, north-facing cliffs.

Arabian Oryx Sanctuary


The Arabian oryx’s fortunes have fluctuated considerably. Oman can claim the credit for successfully reintroducing these elegant creatures in the 1980s and 90s they were hunted to extinction in the wild by the early 1970s. Sadly since the mid-1990s over 400 oryx roamed free but numbers have since declined significantly owing to persistent problems with poaching.




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