Stretching along the south-eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, the Sultanate of Oman is a place that should be visited by all tourists in the mood for some Middle Eastern splendour. Harbouring just over 4.5 million inhabitants and encompassing 309,500 square kilometres of land, it shares borders with the United Arab Emirates to the north-west, Yemen to the south-west, and Saudi Arabia to the west (of course, marine borders include Iran and Pakistan). Considered an absolute monarchy, it was only fitting that it should have a sultan at its head (hence the official status, a “sultanate”). So, without further spoiling details here in the introductory phase, let us see what this proud country has to offer us in terms of pros and cons!
Well, it is always a pleasure to kick off a fact-list with the most positive aspect of a country: in this case, safety. Oman is officially one of the safest countries in the world and this means that you can just lay back and enjoy your trip. Terrorism is non-existent within its borders and petty crime is also unheard of – this is often the case in wealthy places around the world. This is largely due to the exquisite efforts of the local law enforcement but also due to the fact that the people there respect order and their ruler as well. A crime is considered an offense against their leader – a great shame. Thus, you have nothing to fear and you can even bring your cameras.
Tipping in Oman is not part of the culture and thus, the locals are only beginning to acclimatise to the custom. More expensive restaurants and hotels may have a slightly different norm but even the workers there only expect you to round up to the nearest rial (the local currency). If you do not wish to go about it using that rule, you can always stick to the standard 10%. There is no need to fret about tipping when you leave the well-beaten tourist paths as people may not have even heard about what tipping means.
3. Language barriers:
Alright so here is the case: the official language in Oman is Arabic (Gulf Arabic, to be precise) and the locals speak it with great enthusiasm. Their inflection differs slightly from the people living in the North African regions but those who come from those countries can understand the Omani locals quite well (you can do more research on the matter – the differences between the Arabic languages/dialects). To those people who speak no Arabic at all, we say that there is no need to fret as almost everyone speaks English in Oman and this makes a lot of public establishments extremely accessible to foreigners. Off the beaten path you will encounter more non-speakers or people who only dabble in it but you will be able to make yourself understood with your arms and legs (wink)!
4. Expat heaven:
With around 2 million expatriates living within the bounds of the Sultanate, it is only fitting that it should be a hotspot for multiculturalism and acceptance. With countless workers from Bangladesh, Morocco, India, Pakistan, Jordan, and the Philippines, the country harbours quite a few religions as well. But it does not end there as there are Americans, Australians, Canadians, and people from the United Kingdom living there as well. This is why you’ll see a lot of signs in multiple languages in Oman – a brilliant thing if you ever feel slightly puzzled or lost (wink).
Have you ever read Frank Herbert’s extraordinary novel “Dune”? Well, the climate of the planet Arrakis (Dune) in the novel is just like the real-life weather of Oman: dry and hot. With temperatures varying between 18 and 26 degrees Celsius during wintertime and between 30 and 40 in summers, it sure is a place where you can expect to hit the beaches without a problem all year long. This, however, should not mean that you run around half-naked as the locals usually dress conservatively. Never forget that you are still in a Muslim country and you should always respect the traditions and the customs of the countries that you visit!
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Oman and what lasting memories have you taken home with you from there? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and be sure to check back for some exciting new updates from time to time! Safe travels!