Oman Key Facts
Location : Middle East, southeastern tip of Arabian Peninsula.
Time : GMT + 4
Language : Arabic, English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects
Currency : Omani Rial
Area : 309,500 sq km (119,500 sq miles).
Population: 3.2 million
Population Density : 10.3 per sq km
Capital : Muscat
Geography : The Sultanate of Oman occupies the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula with almost 1,700km (1,062 miles) of coastline stretching along the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf. It is bordered by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the west and the Republic of Yemen to the south. The United Arab Emirates lies to the northwest of Oman and to the east lies the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman.
Government : Sultanate since 1744
Head of State : HM Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id since 1970
The current Sultan and his partially publicly elected government have been responsible for overseeing the country’s dramatic modernisation programme. When he came to power in 1970, Sultan Qaboos inherited a country that boasted only 10km of sealed road, two American-run missionary hospitals and no secondary schools. Today, good roads link nearly every town in the country, every region has modern healthcare facilities, and all Omani citizens are given free primary and secondary education. Oman has gained an international reputation for being a peaceful, settled nation, loyal to Arab neighbours whilst maintaining close, friendly ties with Western countries.
Arabic is the official language. English is widely spoken. Swahili is also spoken by Omani descendents from East Africa. German and French are spoken by some hotel staff while Urdu, Farsi, Hindi and Tagalog are widely spoken by Oman’s large expatriate workforce.
Oman is a country which offers home to a number of religious communities. As diverse religious groups thrive here with their distinct religious beliefs and practices, Oman stands enriched with the distinct patterns of each. Though the country is primarily Islamic, the different religions in Oman are allowed to maintain the unique traits of their own, thus resulting in a nation which stands as a melting pot of cultures from across the globe.
As in the other Arabic countries, Islam stands as the major religion in Oman as well. Islam is in fact, the official religion of Oman, though the Basic Law of the country is liberal towards the other religions as well.
Electricity : 220/240 volts AC, 50Hz.
Shaking hands is the usual form of greeting. A small gift, either promoting your company or country, is well received. As far as dress is concerned, it is important that women dress modestly beyond the hotel grounds, ie long skirts or dresses (below the knee) with covered shoulders; men should wear trousers and shirts with sleeves. Tight-fitting clothes should be restricted to hotel restaurants to avoid giving offence although this is not strictly followed by some Westerners. Shorts should not be worn in public and beachwear is prohibited anywhere except the beach. Collecting seashells, abalone, corals, crayfish and turtle eggs is also prohibited. Dumping litter is forbidden. It is polite not to smoke in public, but generally 'No Smoking' signs are posted where appropriate. Homosexual behaviour is illegal.
Visitors should ask permission before attempting to photograph people or their property. 'No Photography' signs exist in certain places and must be observed.