Oman Travel Notes

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Australian Embassy in Saudi Arabia

Abdullah bin Hozafa Al-Sahmi Avenue
Diplomatic Quarter
Riyadh
Saudi Arabia
Tel   +996 11 250 0900
Fax  +996 11 250 0902
www.saudiarabia.embassy.gov.au

Australian Consulate-General in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Level 25, Bur Juman Business Tower
Khalifa Bin Zayed Road
Dubai
United Arab Emirates
Tel   +971 4 5087 100
Fax  +971 4 355 1547

Smartraveller

The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers.
www.smartraveller.gov.au

Time Zones

Oman is on Greenwich Mean Time +4 making them 7 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time.  To obtain the current local time and date in cities and countries in all time zones.
www.worldtimeserver.com

Voltages and Plugs

Oman use 220 volts. Plugs are a mixture of British and European sockets. You need to take both 3 square pronged and 2 round pronged when travelling to Oman.
www.korjo.com/Adaptor-Guide

 

Currency

To obtain the most up-to-date exchange rate you may wish to visit
www.xe.com/currencyconverter

The currency in Oman is Rial Omani
1 Omani Rial (OMR) = 1000 baiza.
Notes are different colours and in denominations of OMR 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 and 500, 250, 200 and 100 baiza. Coins are in denominations of 50, 25, 10 and 5 baiza.

Credit Cards and ATM machines

ATMs are the easiest way to access your money. They are common in all tourist towns and cities. Most accept Visa, MasterCard, Electron, Cirrus, Maestro and InterBank cards. ATMs sometimes run dry on weekends in smaller towns. Credit cards are accepted at all hotels some restaurants and often in souks.

Please note that using a credit card in a growing number of foreign countries usually requires a new “chip-and-pin” credit card with an embedded microchip and an associated PIN number (the PIN is specific to each credit card). If you have questions about using your credit card in a foreign country, please contact your bank prior to departure from Australia. Check with your credit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Cash

Because of the very full nature of the program, there will be NO opportunity to visit banks. Money can be changed either at the hotels or at official change bureau’s. We STRONGLY RECOMMEND that you take Australian or US Cash in low denominations. Make sure you only take CRISP, UNTORN NOTES, THE NEWER THE BETTER.

Travelers Cheques are NO longer accepted.

Telephone & Communication

Mobile telephones
International roaming does NOT work well in Oman. We have also been advised that the International Pre Paid Sim Cards you can purchase in Australia do not work n Oman.   Most mobile telephones work in Oman and quite good in the towns. 

If you’re going to be using the phone a lot while you’re in Oman, you may wish to consider a local SIM card, which will give you cheap local and international calls. The leading local phone operators are Oman Tel or Nawras, both have shops countrywide where you can pick up a SIM card (you will need to show your passport when purchasing). The pre-paid  schemes are the easiest to use. Funds can be added to your account using the widely available scratchcard-style recharge cards, which are available from many local shops. Should you choose to purchase a local sim card please check with your local provide prior to departure to make sure your phone is unlocked and will accept another sim card.

 

Internet

There is a growing number of internet cafés in larger cities and towns in Oman. Away from these places, however, it can be a real struggle to find anywhere to get online. Internet access is also available in many better hotels, either via cable or wi-fi. Occasionally it’s free in these establishments but most often there is a fee.

If you have Web access while traveling, you might consider a broadband-based telephone service (in technical terms, Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP) such as Skype or Vonage, which allows you to make free international calls between online computers and phones, and cheap international calls if you’re calling a normal phone number. Most cybercafes throughout the country will be using these programs already, complete with headset, microphone, and webcam.

www.skype.com    www.vonage.com

Business Hours in Oman

Banks   Saturday to Wednesday 0800-1200, Thursday 0800-1130
The traditional working week runs from Saturday to Wednesday, although some businesses also open on a Thursday morning, while Friday serves as the Islamic holy day (equivalent to the Christian Sunday).

Shopping hours are slightly different. Shops in most souks generally open seven days a week, although most places remain closed on Friday mornings. Most places also shut down daily for an extended siesta during the hot afternoon, from around noon or 13.00 until 17.00 or 18.00
Local cafés may stay open, although there’s unlikely to be much food available past 13.00 (more upmarket restaurants tend to stay open until 15.00, but then usually close until 19.00). Things come back to life as dusk approaches, usually remaining busy until 21.00 or 22.00

Personal Safety
  • We strongly recommend the use of a money belt to keep your cash, cards and travel documents safe. This should be kept under your clothes at all times. This is a precaution that should be taken anywhere due to the difficulties that can be experienced in trying to replace stolen items.
  • Take photocopies of all important documents (passport, credit cards, airline tickets, insurance) and keep one copy securely in your luggage and leave another copy at home.
  • It is generally helpful to take a business card from the hotel you are staying at. This can assist hugely if you get lost. If you also have a key card for your hotel, make sure you keep these two cards separate or you run the risk of allowing a thief access to your room
  • Take extra care in crowded places and try not to ‘advertise’ the fact that you may be carrying valuables by having something like an expensive camera over your shoulder. Put it in your bag or under your coat. And men, try to avoid keeping your wallet in your hip pocket.
What to Pack

Clothing (general)
The time of the year you visit this destination will dictate the type of clothing it is appropriate to bring. It would always be advisable to take a rain coat or a water proof windbreaker. For daytime activities, we suggest a wardrobe that is versatile, casual and comfortable. It is recommended that “layered” clothing might offer the best comfort in a variety of conditions. Be prepared for warm weather (daily temperatures average 25-30 degrees). We recommend light cotton full-length sleeve shirts and cotton pants.

Beyond the normal wardrobe we suggest

  • comfortable walking shoes (very important)
  • sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat
  • warmer attire for the desert evenings
  • ladies should have a scarf with them at all times – during visits to mosques and holy tombs women will be required to wear a head-scarf
  • swimsuits as there will be a number of occasions where you will have the opportunity to swim
  • prescription medicines for the full duration of your time away and a written copy of your prescriptions including what they are for, provided by your doctor is required as the import of drugs that do not have proof of use can carry criminal charges
  • extra prescription eyeglasses (if required)
  • torch (required at Wahabi Sands campsite)
  • all camera supplies (film, memory cards, batteries) – it will be extremely difficult to purchase these supplies in Oman, particularly outside Muscat
  • footwear should include 1 pair of sturdy sandals, and 1 pair of strong shoes for walks on very rock terrain
  • pocket knife – Group members are strongly encouraged to peel any fruit before consumption and a pocket knife will be extremely useful. Remember to pack this in your main luggage for each flight, and don’t have it in your hand luggage!
  • water bottle – All group members will be given bottles of water each day of the tour. Sometimes the water distributed to group members is in very large bottles. You may wish to bring a water bottle of a manageable size and pour the water as desired
  • Oman is a tea-drinking nation, and good coffee is hard to find. Lovers of coffee should bring their own supply (suggest Robert Timms coffee bags).  Also bring jug, cup etc
  • wet wipes – It is a very good idea to pack a good supply of wet wipes or disinfectant gel. Hand-washing facilities are not readily available in rural areas.
  • toilet paper. Outside of major hotels and tourist restaurants cleanliness can be an issue and a supply of toilet paper is unlikely. Many toilets are squat toilets, especially in the desert.
Etiquette

Photography
While photography is permitted throughout the Sultanate, and there is beautiful scenery everywhere, photography of government and military installations is not permitted. Likewise photographers should be very circumspect when it comes to photographing women. It is not advisable to take pictures of women without requesting and obtaining permission before hand. This can be done by saying “Mumkin sura, min fadlak?” (May I take your picture please?). While children usually oblige happily, women may refuse especially if the photographer is male. It is often easier to engage your subject in pleasant conversation to obtain their disposition and instill confidence. Then, if they are accommodating, you can ask for a photograph.

Greeting
It is customary for an Omani to greet profusely even on the most casual meeting and it would be polite to return his greeting with a friendly remark or gesture if you are not familiar with the language.  Shaking hands is customary in Oman. The handclasp is usually light (the hearty western style handshake can be interpreted as being overly aggressive) and is sometimes accompanied by placing the other hand over the heart to indicate sincerity. Kissing between men is also a common form of greeting, usually reserved for family and close friends, consisting of a light touch to both cheeks, sometimes repeated. In the desert, Bedouin men will lightly touch noses while making the kissing sound.

Environment
Oman is one of the cleanest country in the world. Littering is forbidden. Omanis have a higher regard for the environment and its maintenance. When you are travelling, particularly hiking and camping in remote areas, be sure to remove any trash that you bring in. Here, the maxim “Take only photographs, leave only footprints” can be applied.

Clothing
It is important that women dress modestly, for example long skirts or dresses (below the knee) or loose fitting pants with long sleeves. Tight fitting clothes must be avoided and although this is not strictly followed by Westerners, it is far better to adopt this practice and avoid causing offence. Shorts should never be worn in public and beachwear is prohibited for anywhere except the beach and hotel facilities

Useful websites

Oman Tourist Board
tourismoman.com.au

Climate

We suggest that prior to departure you check the weather forecast for the most up-to-date information.
www.worldweatheronline.com

The country’s climate is predominantly arid and varies slightly from one region to another. In the coastal areas, the weather is hot and humid during the summer months, while it is dry elsewhere in the interior. Milder weather dominates the mountains and Dhofar region all the year round. Winter temperatures can be as low as 15°Celsius and summer temperatures can be as high as 48° Celsius in Muscat and as high as 54° in the desert.

Average minimum/maximum Temperatures (˚C)

City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Muscat 17/25 17/27 20/28 24/34 28/39 30/40 29/38 28/36 26/35 24/35 20/30 18/27
Salalah 19/28 20/28 22/30 24/32 27/33 27/32 25/28 24/27 24/29 23/31 23/31 20/29