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Oman

SULTANATE OF OMAN

General Information

Population

Approximately 2,018,074

Language

The official language is Arabic, but English is widely spoken and understood

Currency

Omani Riyal divided into 1000 Baizas,
US$ 1 = RO 0.3
Notes: Riyal : 1,5,10,20
Notes Baizas : 100,200,250, 500
Coins: Baizas : 5,10,25,50

Credit Card

Major credit cards such as American express, Visa, Mastercard and Diner’s Club are available through global network branches and accepted in shopping areas as well as hotels and some restaurants.

Geography

The Sultanate of Oman is situated on the South-Eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula. Oman is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the West, the Republic of Yemen to the south and the United Arab Emirates to the North-West. The topograpghy is varied, with rugged mountains and rocky deepwater fjords to the North, the mountains and green hills of Dhofar region to the South and the spectacular dunes of the Wahiba Sands in the centre. Oman occupies an area of 309,500 square kilometres. Its coastline stretches over 1,700 kilometres and overlooks three seas : the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Gulf.

Climate

The weather is generally pleasant except in the Summer months of May, June, July and August when it is mainly hot and humid.

Rainfall is mostly restricted to the south of the country. During the summer months the Southern Region (Dhofar) experiences monsoon rains which are know locally as the "Khareef" and which turn the area into a lush-green paradise.

Ports

Mina Qaboos (Muscat) and Mina Salalah (Dhofar).

International Airports

Seeb (Muscat) and Salalah

Customs

Visitors are allowed to bring in the following free of duty :
400 cigarettes, 24 cigars, 1 kg tobacco. Non-muslims only are allowed to bring in 2 bottles of alcohol

Local Time

GMT + 4 (Winter), GMT + 3 (Summer)

International Access Number

++968

Dress Code

Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year, but sweaters or jackets may be needed for the winter months, especially in the evenings.

Good quality sunglasses are advised, and photo-chromatic lenses for those who wear spectacles. Hats or some  protection for the head are advisable when  in direct sunlight.

Oman has conservative dress traditions. Swimwear should be confirmed to the beach and hotel pools. Men and women should ensure shoulders and knees are covered when in public, especially in souks, shops and villages

Religion

Islam is the official religion. Other religions are respected

Alcohol

Alcohol is freely available in hotel restaurants and bars, but not outside hotels. It is not allowed to consume alcohol in public areas.

Photography

Normal tourist photography is acceptable but it is considered offensive to photograph Muslim women. It is also courteous to ask permission before photographing men. Photographs of government buildings or military installations are forbidden.

Health and Medical Facilities

Hospitals, pharmacies and health clinics are available throughout  Oman. Modern hospitals with state-of-the-art equipment can contend with any emergency.

Electricity

The electricity supply is 220/240 volts at 50 cycles. Adapters are available in the hotels.

Water

Tap water is quite safe to drink but visitors usually prefer locally bottled mineral water and this is generally served in hotels and restaurants.

Telecommunications

Telecommunications are excellent, both within Oman and the outside world. International direct telephone dialing, telex and fax facilities are available in all major cites in Oman. Telephone booths (phone cards) are available in abundance for international and local calls. Most hotels offer guests internet access. Access is also available at internet cafés. 

Tipping

Tipping practices are similar to most parts of the world. Where no service charge is included, 10 per cent is adequate.

Bargaining

Bargaining is expected in the souks. Vendors will usually drop the price and often quite substantially, particularly for a cash sale. Bargaining is normally not possible in shopping malls.

Postal rates

300 baizas for postcards / airmails.

Postcards

Hotel bookshops

Working hours

Government :
From Sundays to Thursdays from 07:30 am to 02:30 pm.
Private Sector :
From Sundays to Thursdays from 08:00 am to 01:00 pm and from 04:00 pm to 07:00 pm. Many companies close at 01:00 pm on Thursdays.
Banks :
From Saturdays to Thursdays from 08:00 am to 12:00 noon (some banks open until 01:00pm).
Exchange houses :
From Saturdays to Thursdays from 08:30 am to 01:30 pm and from 04:30 pm to 08:30 pm.
Fridays from 04:30 pm to 08:30 pm.
Shops :
From Saturdays to Thursdays from 09:00 am to 01:00 pm and from 05:00 pm to 10:00 pm.
Fridays from 05:00 pm to 10:00 pm.
Above timings are not applicable during Ramadan.

Holidays & Islamic Events in the Sultanate of Oman 2015/2016

Occasion

2015

2016

Weekend Holiday

Friday - Saturday

 Friday - Saturday

New Year

01 Jan

 01 Jan

Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday *

04 Jan

 12 Dec

Lailat Al Mi’raj*

16 May

 05 May

Renaissance Day (marking the start of the reign of HM Sultan Qaboos)

23 Jul

 23 Jul

Ramadan*

18 Jun - 16 Jul

 08 Jun - 06 Jul

Eid Al Fitr*

17 - 18 Jul

 07 - 09 Jul

Eid Al Adha*

23 - 25 Sep

 12 - 14 Sep

Islamic New Year’s Day*

14 Oct

 02 Oct

Oman National Day

18 Nov

 18 Nov

* Islamic Holidays and these are subject to change