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Oman Travel Guide

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Full country name: Sultanate of Oman
Area: 309,550 sq km
Population: 2,845,000
Capital City: Muscat
Language: Arabic
Religion: 75% Muslim (50% Ibadhi, 17% Sunni, 8% Imami Shia and Zikri), 25% other (Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Baha'is, Christians)
Government: Islamic absolute monarchy
Time Zone: (UTC+4), summer (DST) (UTC+4)
Dialing Code: 968
Electricity: 240V, 50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric
Currency: Rial (OMR)

Money & Costs:
Average yearly salary: USD 25,000

Budget: $10
Mid-range: $20
High: $30+
Budget: $30-80
Mid-range: $100-300
High: $400-500

Geography: Oman is located in Southwest Asia, bordering Yemen, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Oman faces the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. The topography of Oman is varied: 82% of the country is composed of valleys and desert, 15% of the country is mountainous, and the last 3% are the coastal plain. The Rub al Khali forms a barrier between the sultanate and the Arabian interior, and is difficult to cross. Another barrier, the Al Hajar Mountains, form a belt between the coast and the desert. These geographic barriers helped to keep Oman free from foreign military encroachments.

Climate: Oman has a light monsoon climate with the weather being mainly hot and dry. It is particularly hot in the barriers, where summer temperatures can reach up to 54°C. Humidity can be high on the coast in summer. Milder temperatures and a temperate climate can be found in the southern part of the country, with heavy monsoon rains between June and September. The rest of the country experiences low precipitation.

Recommended clothing: Light cotton clothes are advised throughout the year, however, something warmer should be packed for the cooler evenings and winter months. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended for excursions to mountainous regions. Women should not wear short, revealing and tight clothing, and their shoulders and knees should be covered at all times. Beach wear is appropriate for closed beach clubs and hotel beaches only (sunbathing 'topless' is unwelcome).

Food: The Omani people are well known for their coffee (kahwa) and halwa, a sticky sweet gelatinous substance which is made from brown sugar, eggs, honey and spices. Halwa can be made of many different ingredients (nuts, rosewater, chocolate). Another common accompaniment to coffee is Lokhemat, which are balls of flour and yeast flavored with cardamom and deep fried until golden, served with sweet lime and cardamom syrup. The main dishes of Oman often include rice as the main ingredient. Maqbous is a famous rice dish, tinged yellow with saffron and cooked over a spicy meat. Fish dishes are also very common, with Kingfish being the most popular ingredient. The rukhal bread is a thin, round bread baked over a fire made from palm leaves. It is usually served with Omani honey for breakfast or crumbled over curry for dinner.

Drink: Tap water is not always of the best quality, therefore you should drink bottled water, which is widely available throughout the country. Since Oman is a Muslim country, alcohol is usually very expensive and available only in certain restaurants and large hotels. Note, that drinking alcohol in public is strictly prohibited.

Health: No special immunizations are required for entry to Oman. Try to avoid mosquito bites, as dengue fever may be a risk. Health and medical services, particularly in Muscat, are of a high standard, but are expensive, therefore health insurance is recommended.

Public Holidays:
1 Jan New Year's Day
26 Feb Mouloud (Birth of the Prophet)
9 Jul Leilat al-Meiraj (Ascension of the Prophet)
23 Jul Renaissance Day (Marking the start of the reign of Sultan Qaboos)
11 Sep Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
18 Nov National Day and birthday of HM Sultan Qaboos
17 Nov Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
7 Dec Islamic New Year

Note: Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of various phases of the moon and the dates given above are approximations. During the lunar month of Ramadan that precedes Eid al-Fitr, Muslims fast during the day and feast at night and normal business patterns may be interrupted. Restaurants are closed during the day and smoking and drinking in public is forbidden between dawn and dusk, although discreet provisions are made for guests in most hotels. Many shops are closed for a day or two during the Eid holidays. Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha last from two to 7 days depending largely on what day of the week Eid begins are held.

Disclaimer: The above information is for reference purposes only. The content of this page is not intended to substitute for advice given by the user's own government travel departments or a licensed travel health advisor. The viewer/user of this web page should always contact the user's own government representatives in that area for the most up-to-date information at that time, before making a final decision to travel to that country or destination.

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