Oman boasts a rich heritage and embracing society, a strong sense of identity, and pride in an ancient, frankincense-trading past and confidence in a highly educated future.
As with the rest of the Arab world, Omani culture is closely tied to the Islamic faith. Most Omanis are Muslims. However, the majority of them practice Ibadi, a form of Islam which originated in the country and is distinct from the majority denominations of Sunni and Shia.
Omanis are very humble and down-to-earth. However, two very important aspects of Omani culture are dignity and respect. They regard these values so strongly that insults and name-calling can be a basis for taking someone to court. Criticisms, whether personal, national, or superficial such as appearance or behavior, are generally not appreciated.
Rules of etiquette when traveling in Muslim countries generally apply to traveling in Oman. Women must dress modestly outside the comforts of modern hotels, ideally clothing that covers shoulders and legs and certainly not items that are form-fitting or too tight, while men must wear trousers and sleeved shirts. Outside the main cities of Muscat and Salalah, there is strong segregation in society between genders. In many contexts, it may be considered inappropriate for men to interact with the opposite gender.
The moment you enter an Omani home, you will be served with what constitutes the “fowala,” which includes succulent dates with freshly prepared “kahwa,” or Arabic coffee. The bitterness of kahwa is complemented by the sweetness of dates. Different kinds of sweets, like the gelatinous marshallow-like Omani halawa, is also served as fowala. Kahwa, flavoured intensely with cardamom, is served in tiny eggshell-shaped cups without handles. Also, “sohha wa samin”, another sweet made from dates and nuts, is served with kahwa.
Bread is a staple for breakfast and rice rice is mainly eaten during lunch. “Maqbous,” tinged with saffron and cooked over spicy red or white meat, is a popular rice dish. The Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman swarm with fish. Omani cuisine features fish items eaten with rice or bread. Among the most sought after fish dishes is the “samak bil narjeel,” fish marinated in spices and topped with rice in coconut sauce. Mazoor (boiled shark) is usually served cold, while “kanad” (king fish) is used in the preparation of whole fish roasted on a burning fire and served with rice and lemon juice. “Makauousha,” or sardines, in coconut-based sauce is quite popular in the Musandam region.
Festivals like Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha have given rise to special delicacies. Iftar spread offers an amazing variety like “sakhana,” a thick sweet soup made of wheat, date, molasses, and milk; “masanif” (chicken-stuffed pastries); “fatta,” a meat and vegetable dish mixed with “khubz rakhal;” “mardouf” (made with dates) and “chilo” (rice flour pancakes). The making of “shuwa” calls for a celebration. The entire village participates in the cooking of “shuwa,” which consists of a whole cow or goat, roasted for up to two days in a special oven prepared in a pit dug in the ground.
Muscat is the capital of Oman, and is located on the Gulf of Oman surrounded by beautiful mountains and desert. With a mix of intriguing history, upmarket shopping and stunning scenery, it’s a great place to explore.
Being the first of its kind in the region, the Opera House is a beautiful landmark to tour and with its busy yearly schedule one is sure to catch a great show while visiting the city. Also, the National museum is the newest addition to Oman’s cultural scene. The modern architecture of the building is the perfect contrast to what is held inside. Oman’s rich history since prehistoric times to modern times is on display for people to enjoy and learn from.
A modern Islamic architecture masterpiece, the mosque holds the second largest Persian carpet in the world and once held the record for the largest in the world. The intricate handmade carpet took around 4 years to complete. The mosque also houses one of the most beautiful and largest chandeliers in the world, and the interiors are basically commissioned works of art. The grand prayer hall can accommodate up to 20,000 people all at once.
Outdoors & Adventure
Salalah, the capital city of the southern province Dhofar, is around 650 miles south of Muscat. Known for its Arabian Sea beaches and abundant sea life, this is an excellent spot for sailing, with opportunities for all ages and abilities. A good time to hire a boat is after the khareef (monsoon season, which lasts from mid June to mid September), when seas are calm and whales are easy to spot. For several months after the monsoon the arid desert terrain is transformed into a lush green landscape, with temperatures rarely exceeding 27C.
Towering red rock formations and the lush green springs, pools and plantations of the wadi (valley) provide a dramatic backdrop to the seemingly endless ochre sands that fearless participants negotiate in their 4×4 vehicles. Also, surrounded by serrated precipices, the clear turquoise waters of Oman's version of the Norwegian fjords are ideal for underwater exploration. Some sheltered, shallow areas cater to beginners, while others are off-limits to all but the most experienced divers.
Climbing the via ferrata on Oman's highest mountain,
Jebel Sham, is an adrenaline junkie's dream. The 9,934ft peak, whose name means
'sun mountain' in Arabic, lies in the Al Dakhiliyah region. The protected
climbing route involves first hiking the famous Balcony Walk, which looks
across Al Nakhr — Oman's answer to the Grand Canyon
Take a look at all the amazing destinations we have selected for you and your group, read our experiences and advice in our blog, and check what’s people saying about us too!