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Direct Traveller has included information Oman holidays including the Oman language, Oman currency, Oman cuisine, Oman border crossings, Oman weather, Oman activities and a lot more. Oman essential information pages are here for you to research and fully udnertsand the various aspects of Oman before travelling. make the most of your Oman holidays with Direct Traveller essential information guides and facts.
Banks Credit Cards and Currency
Credit cards are accepted throughout Oman, and you should be able to find plenty of ATMs throughout the country, especially in towns and cities such as Muscat. Visa and MasterCard are most widely accepted, and credit cards are often a requirement to renting a car or booking a hotel. There are many international and local banks around, which are generally reputable and efficient. These are closed on Friday's dues to it being a Muslim holy day. Oman is a euro free county, which makes it a lot more affordable. The official currency in Oman is the Omani Rial (OMR). To give an idea of the currency's value, at the time of writing the exchange rate was approximately 1.00 OMR to ?1.70. From Pounds to OMR the rate was ?1.00 to 0.60 OMR. Obviously, rates should be re-checked at the time of exchange.
Climate and Weather
Occupying the south-eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is such a vast country of diverse landscapes that climactic conditions are varied, depending on the region. The most popular time to visit is from October to April, with sunshine and warm temperatures of around 25?C. Nights are a lot cooler, at 17?C. Coastal areas in particular are extremely humid, whereas the interior of Oman is hot and dry. These temperatures and conditions tend to last throughout the year, even winter often being warm. Between May and September, however, the southern region of Dhofar has a separate climate from the rest of Oman. This is due to the Khareef, a by-product of the monsoon season that emanates from the Indian Ocean. During this period temperatures can fall as low as 10-15?C. Any rain will fall around the winter months, though you don't tend to see much outside of Dhofar.
The idea of ecotourism is to promote travel to places that have stayed relatively untouched by human intervention over the years. It is tourism that focuses on the nature and traditions of a country and hopes to lessen the impact of its visitors. Oman is a great representation of ecotourism due to being a part of the Middle East that, although home to some very glamorous hotel establishments, has in the most part an environment of complete tranquillity and unspoilt landscapes. From the sprawling desert dunes to tropical plantations and towering mountain tops, there's such a range of scenery throughout the country to see. The little villages that exist on places like the Green Mountain show how undisturbed the way of life for many Omani's has remained, and emphasises an atmosphere of peaceful contentment. Activities such as whale watching, scuba diving with tropical fish, and riding camels through the desert, provide the opportunity to experience the Middle East in its natural state, embracing the sights alongside the wildlife. The natural reserves, parks and sanctuaries also allow for a day out seeing turtles, exotic coves and vibrant plants in areas that are so serene you might think time is at a standstill. Even in the hustle and bustle of Muscat city there are many souqs in which you can mingle with local life, admiring the detail that has gone into many of the handicrafts. There are also historical sites such as the Grand Mosque to marvel at. The best thing about eco-tourism is that it gives a holiday experience that is enriched with the unique cultural attributes and heritage of the country you are visiting. It also takes you back to basics, where life is far more relaxed, and simple pleasures can be appreciated.
Embassies and Consulates
There are 62 diplomatic and consular representatives of Oman, and these are there to represent foreign travellers along with Oman natives, able to help with visa regulations and passport requirements or other such queries whilst in the country.
Embassies in Oman are generally located in Muscat and range from a wide variety of countries including nited Kingdom, United States, Cyprus, Turkey, France, Germany and may more international countries.
It's good to keep a note of a country's emergency contact numbers whilst away, just in case. Below is a list for Oman:? Royal Oman Police - 999 ? Country code - 968 ? Medical services - 603988 ? Foreign Eexchange rates - 1106 ? Emergency accident services - 561447 ? Passports and immigration - 24569606 ? Faults and complaints - 192 ? International numbers - 1327 ? AAA (Arabian Automobile Alliance) – 24697800
- Oman yearly festivities:
- New Year's Day (which is still on January 1st)
- Mouloud (which is the Birth of the Prophet, held on March 9th)
- Leilat al Meiraj (This is Ascension of the Prophet, held on July 20th)
- Renaissance Day (Held on July 23rd)
- Eid al-Fitr (This marks the end of Ramadan, and is held in the month of September)
- National Day and Birthday of HM Sultan Qaboss (Held on November 18th)
- Eid al-Adha (This is the Feast of the Sacrifice, and is held on November 28th)
- Al-Hijra (This is the Islamic New Year, and is held on December 18th)
Tipping is generally not a customary thing to do in Oman. In expensive restaurants it's likely you'll find a service charge already added to the bill, though for small courtesies a small tip is appreciated, for things such as help with carrying bags.
Haggling is a tradition in Oman, mainly through the Souq's that are famous for providing a taste of the cultures past with many open air markets selling handcrafts and souvenirs. This a great opportunity to get involved with local life and find an authentic Omani shopping experience. A good tip is to check out the competition first, and spend some time browsing so that you roughly know the average selling price for certain items. Anything costing less than one rial is not worth bargaining down.
It's always a good thing to know that you're in safe hands when it comes to healthcare abroad, and you'll be pleased to know that Oman certainly provides this security. Whether you're travelling with a pre-existing medical condition or just want the re-assurance that if you were to have an accident help would be available, you can stay safe in the knowledge that the standard of healthcare here is of a high standing. There are many medical facilities around the country and, if needed, you should be able to get treatment without too much worry. Many medical staff in Oman can speak English - especially in the private hospitals - so language shouldn't be an issue. However, although the public health service provides healthcare to Oman residents free of charge, it is wise for tourists and expats to obtain private medical insurance. The majority of the hospitals all have modern equipment and facilities, are clean and efficient. They also have A&E units. Dentists are also available, and pharmacies can be found too, though some prescriptions that may be easily available in your home country may not be so here. For this reason, if you require a specific medical prescription you should check with the authorities if it is allowed and obtain a note from your doctor. The number to contact Oman's medical services is 603988 To stay fit and healthy whilst in Oman remember to drink lots of water and bring a high factor of sun cream, as especially in the summer it can get extremely hot.
Due to its geographical location, Omani food is a colourful blend of cultures, taking inspiration from not only the Middle East but also Africa and the Far East. Its traditions in maritime trade have also influenced the diverse range of flavours you'll taste here, and if you're a lover of seafood then prepare to be spoilt for choice. Traditional Omani food often includes chicken, fish or mutton, and dishes are prepared with an emphasis on marinades, spices, herbs, onion, garlic and lime. If that's got you worrying about the temperatures, Omani cuisine actually tends to be a lot milder than other, spicier Asian cuisine. Popular mains usually include a staple of rice prepared in various ways. Soups, such as vegetable, lentil, lamb or chicken, are common too, along with salads that are prepared around smoked eggplant, fish or watercress. Marak, a vegetable curry, is much loved, along with kebabs.
Mashuai is a good one for those that like fresh fish, comprising of spit roasted king fish, usually served with lemon rice. Rukhal bread is a thin, round bread baked over a palm leaf fire, giving it a distinctive taste. This delicious snack is often eaten by Omani's for breakfast with honey, or crumbled over curry as an equally tasty savoury ingredient. The festivities in Oman truly bring out some wonderful displays of food in celebration. Eid includes a dish called Arsia which consists of lamb with mashed rice, while Ramadan offers up Sakhana, a thick sweet soup made of wheat, dates, molasses and milk. Omani Halwa is a good choice for those looking for something sweeter. It is a sticky gelatinous substance formed of brown sugar, eggs, honey and spices.
Then there's Lokhemat, balls of flour deep fried and bathed in lime and cardamom syrup. Cardamom is definitely a popular flavouring in Oman. It's used to flavour yogurt-based drinks, along with pistachio. A salty buttermilk called Laban is another interesting drink to try.
One thing that is universal to all in Oman is a love of Kahwa - Omani coffee. Often served with dates, it's a delicious excuse to take a break any time of the day. This strong drink is usually seasoned with cardamom syrup, giving it an extra kick of sweetness. Kahwa represents hospitality in Oman, and is a way to experience an authentic tradition with the locals. The really wonderful thing about cuisine in Oman is its diversity. Not only does it include many infusions of various cultures and traditions, but it also differs from region to region, with each part of Oman preparing food in their own unique way. For this reason you'll never run out of new things to try, and will have ample opportunity to taste the vibrant pallet of the Middle East with flavours as exciting as its landscape.
Oman's music has been influenced by many different cultures and the tales of the past. It hopes to inspire the present and the future, with the verses often telling of social lessons. Traditional Omani music contrasts to the music of other Arab countries in that there tends to be a particular emphasis on rhythm.
The wooden ar-rahman, which consists of metal cylinders made from old tins, is an example of this approach. Many of the skins used for the drums come from sheep, goats, bulls or even camels. Music often marks the important stages in an Omani's life, such as birth, marriage and death. No matter what age or sex you are, all are equal to dance and participate in the music. It has a spiritual essence to it that brings the various communities together whilst helping to define the country's cultural identity, creating an enchanting narrative that those not native to Oman can't help to feel inspired by.
Oman is a diverse country, and the variety of languages you might hear around the country is evidence of this: Swahili, Hindi, Malayan and Indian dialects are some examples, while English is also used a lot around tourist environments and businesses. The official language of Oman is Arabic, though, and is most widely spoken.
Omani people are generally known for being warm and welcoming to those that visit their country. Tourists should still be sensitive to the order of society here, though, with many Omani's abiding by strict Islamic principles. For example, during the month of Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking in public is an offense. Women should dress modestly not just out of respect for the country's culture, but also to avoid unwanted attention.
Generally speaking, you'll find that in Oman camels are probably more popular than taxis, although taxis do still operate. These can be of the shared or engaged variety - 'shared' referring to when taxis pick up multiple passengers who are all going in a similar direction. There isn't usually a metre, and payment is decided by negotiating a price with the driver. It is also safest to call a taxi through a legally approved company. Aside from taxis, other public transport in Oman consists of coaches and buses. These are run by the Oman National Transport Company.