Region: Middle East & North Africa
The official religion is Islam and about 70-80% of Omanis follow Ibadi Islam. The rest of the population is made up of Sunni Muslims, Shi’a Muslims and Hindus.
The official language of Oman is Arabic. Other languages spoken are English, Farsi, Urdu, Swahili, Jibbali and Kumzari.
Area (sq. km):
212,460 square meters
Oman is four hours ahead of GMT.
Oman is hot and dry with temperatures from 18 degrees celcius to 34 degrees celcius. The average rainfall ranges from 76 to 102mm annually however there are climatic variations. In the south along the coast, coconuts are grown while in the northern highlands, roses and grapes are produced. Summers are extremely hot and winters are quite warm; the average annual temperature in Muscat is 29 degrees celcius. The climate of the coastal plain and mountains of Dhofar is moderated by the monsoons that deposit annually about 760mm of rain on the south side of the mountains and about 150mm along the coast. Parts of the Hajar Mountains receive up to 460mm of rain, while Muscat receives less than 100mm. Flash floods can take place when sudden and heavy rains run off the mountains towards the valleys.
November to March is the most popular time to travel as the temperature is cooler, making travel more comfortable.
Oman’s country code is 968. Phone cards can be purchased from petrol stations and supermarkets throughout the country and international calls can be made from public phones. The outgoing international code is 00. Mobile phones work in most tourist areas, except in the desert (eg Wahiba Sands). Telephone calls, especially international ones, can be expensive when made from a hotel. We suggest you check the price first. If you have a mobile phone it should be a relatively simple procedure to arrange 'global roaming' with your service provider, however charges are generally high so be sure to check this option thoroughly.
Supermarkets and hotel shops sell adaptors. Mains electricity is between 220V and 240V. Plugs are generally the three-pin UK type however, most two-pin plugs, or a two-pin adapter will work.
Outside of Omani homes food tends to be of Lebanese origin. Traditional Omani cooking uses plenty of saffron, turmeric and cardamom but isn’t usually spicy. Fish is used widely due to Oman’s long stretch of coast. Oman’s most typical dish is made from boiled meat and steamed wheat and called harees. This meal is usually garnished with dried shark meat, lime, onions and chili. A favourite drink is laban, a salty buttermilk. Yoghurt drinks, flavoured with cardamom and pistachio nuts are also very popular.
Visa: Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, British and Canadians require a visa for Oman. All other nationalities should check with their nearest Omani Embassy or Consulate for up-to-date visa information. Visas can be issued on arrival and are valid for 14 days and you must have proof of your onward travel arrangements (airline itinerary). Your passport must also be valid for 6 months. The cost is approximately US $55, payable in cash.
Arabian Sands - Wilfred Thesiger The Road to Ubar - Nicholas Clapp Sand Dance - Bruce Kirby