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Welcome to Oman

A guide to middle east arab countries

Introduction

The Sultanate of Oman lies on the south east corner of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered to the west by the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to South by the Republic of Yemen, the Strait of I Hormuz to the North and the Arabian Sea to the East.

The Sultanate occupies a total area of about 309,500 square kms and includes different terrains that vary from the coastal plain overlooking the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea ,to highlands and mountains, as Al Hajr mountains which stretches in the form of an are from Ras Musandam in the north to Ras Al Had.

The second is Al Qara mountain range situated in the far side of south west of Oman. Sand and desert cover the greatest area as they represent approximately 82% of the total area: most of it is the Empty Quarter.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Doqum beach

Doqum beach

Muscat

Muscat

Jebel Shams

Jebel Shams

Fast Facts

Official Name: Sultanate of Oman

Capital: Muscat

Population: 3,311,640 including 577,293 expatriates (July 2007)

Language: Official language is Arabic. English is widely spoken and along with Arabic is the common business language.

Religion: Islam

Location: The Sultanate borders the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the west, the United Arab Emirates in the northeast, the Republic of Yemen in the southwest, the Strait of Hormuz in the north and the Arabian Sea in the east. The Musandam Peninsula forms the country's northern tip.

Climate: 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 15ºCelsius and summer temperatures can be as high as 48º Celsius in Muscat and as high as 54º in the desert. Dhofar, located in the southernv region of the country however, enjoys a regular monsoon between June and October, every year.

Currency: (O.R): OMANI RIALS.

Time Zone: GMT +4.

Country dialing code: 00 968.

Electricity: 220 - 240 Volts at 50 cycles

Tipping: Service charge is usually added to bills, and tipping is not expected; however a "little extra" is appreciated.. A general rule would be 5% additional to service charge, or between 10 to 15% where service has not been added.

Shopping hours: Shopping establishments are open from 9am to 1 pm and 4pm to 9 pm. Department stores, supermarkets and shopping complexes are open throughout the day during Ramadân from 9am to 10 pm, with a short lunch break all through the week, except Fridays. These timings could vary with different shops. Timings differ during Ramadân.

Driving: in Oman is a pleasurable experience. Motorways link Muscat with all major cities and towns in Oman. There are excellent roads leading to Dubai. An international driving license is valid in Oman. Local residents and expatriates may be required to take a driving test before a license is issued.Vehicles are driven on the right side of the road. It is essential to carry vehicle documentation and driving licenses and it is mandatory to call the police for any accident however slight it may be. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence and is strictly prohibited.

Taxis: Taxis are orange and white. They are not metered so it is advisable to negotiate a fair before the start of a journey. Shared taxis are considerably cheaper and practical. Small vans (known locally as the baiza bus) following more or less fixed routes offer a cheaper alternative. Flag one down and find out his destination. If its where you want to go, get in.

Fort Jalali

Fort Jalali

Al-Hazm Castle

Al-Hazm Castle

Rustaq Fort, Oman

Rustaq Fort, Oman

Jabrin, Oman

Jabrin, Oman

Places to visit

Heritage Attractions

The Turtle Nature Reserves in Niyabat Ras Al Hadd, where for several months throughout the year, gigantic sea turtles make their way to the beaches of Sur to lay hundreds of eggs.

Forts

Forts and Castles are Oman's most striking cultural landmarks and, together with its towers and city walls, they have historically been used as defensive bastions or look-out points. There are over 500 forts, castles and towers in Oman which has a coastline of 1,700 kms, so they were needed to protect it from potential invaders.

Jalali and Mirani

The forts of Al Jalali and Al Mirani are the capital's most prominent landmarks and were built in the 16th century AD. The Portuguese completed their construction of Jalali Fort in 1587. Its present-day form dates from the reign of Sayyid Said bin Sultan, and this Fort was restored and converted into a museum in the reign of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

Rustaq Fort Is amongst the oldest, is the tallest, and is surrounded by watch towers. (Al Batinah) originally known as Qalat Al Kisra, was built in the 13th century. It has four towers: Al Burj Al Ahmar; Al Burj Al Hadeeth; Al Burj Al Reeh; and Al Burj Ashiateen . A falaj ran through the fort to supply water to its inhabitants. Should this become contaminated, the inhabitants were able to rely on a well. There are many rooms to this fort and it also boasts a mosque, weapons' room, prison, and reception area.

Bahla Fort Main feature is its 7-mile long walls which were patrolled by sentries night and day. The Fort's internal staircases and walls were built of mud, coated with gypsum and sarooj (a traditional type of mortar) which are as hard and solid as present-day cement. UNESCO has approved Bahla Fort and Wall for inclusion in its World Heritage List.

Nizwa Fort, (A'Dakhliyah) built by Imam Sultan bin Saif al Ya'arubi in 1668, is the biggest fort in the Arabian Peninsula with an exterior diameter of its circular structure of 150 feet, and over 115 feet high. The traditional doors are inches deep and over the lintel of each is a hole through which boiling oil could be poured over the marauding enemies.

Jabrin Fort was built by Imam Sultan bin Saif Al Ya'arubi in 1670 as a defensive stronghold and as living accommodation for the Imam. It has rooms and ceilings decorated with fine carvings. It has two huge towers with walls two metres thick.it was built by Bil'arab bin Sultan, an Imam of the Ya'aruba dynasty during the 17th century. It is one of the most impressive forts in the Sultanate and the details and carvings in the rooms and balconies are most elaborate. Finely painted flowers and symbols are found on the ceilings in the 'living' rooms. The tomb of Imam Bil'arab remains within the fort.

Nakhl Fort (Al Batinah) is within an hour's drive of Muscat and provides a morning of sight-seeing. The fort is 350 years old and is set in a gorge, surrounded by a mountain enclave. In 1990, sympathetic restoration work began, using traditional building materials and period furnishings. The carved master gate is believed to date back to the 1830's during the reign of Sayyid Said bin Sultan.

Al Hazm Castle Located in Al Hazm town in Welayat Rustaq. It was built by Imam Sultan bin Seif .The Castle is distinctive from other Omani Castle and forts by its magnificent shape and massive building. It contains the tomb of its builder / Imam Sultan bin Seif (the 2nd.).

It was restored by the Ministry in ( 1416 A.H. - 1996 A.D. ).

Sohar Fort Located in Harat Al Hajara in Sohar town. Dated back to 179 A.H., It was renovated, to its present shape, in the (Eighth - Ninth century A.H.) (14th A.H. - 15th A.D.). During the reign of Imam / Nasser bin Murshid Al Ya'arubi, he was able to conquer and expel the Portuguese from this castle. Sohar castle remained as administration Centre for the ruling Al Busaid dynasty. The Ministry restored the Fort in 1985 and used it as a museum in 1993.

Mirbat Castle Dated back to the 19th. century or earlier than that and located in the Welayat of Mirbat in Dhofar Governorate. This castle played defensive and administrative roles throughout history. It was restored by the Ministry in 1991 and was officially opened in 1996 on the occasion of the Year of Heritage. It was furnished and equipped with handicrafts from Dhofar Governorate and from the other Regions of Oman.

Khassab Castle Located opposite to the seacoast in Welayat Khasab in the north of Oman. It consists of four buildings surrounded by a wall and it was built in the sixth century A.D. The Ministry restored it in 1989.

Al Mintrib Castle One of the oldest castles in Welayat Badiya. Built during the reign of Imam / A'zzan bin Qais Al Busaid ( 1285 A.H. - 1868 ) and was used in the past as a center for the Welayat. The Ministry restored it in 1989.

Al Khandaq Castle Located in Hamasa town in Welayat Buraimi. It was called ( Al Khandaq ) because of the ditch surrounding it . It is a square shape building with four circular towers and a main gate surrounded by high fences . The Ministry restored it in 1994.

Albuquerque in 1507 described Sohar Fort as "a fortress of square shape, with six towers round it, having also over the gate two very large towers". The fort was so large that it then required over 1,000 men for its defence.

Things to do

Haggle for things you've always wanted and can't afford to buy in the gold shops of Muttrah Souk in Muscat.

Slip out to sea from Khasab in a traditional dhow, followed by a flotilla of dolphins, and find out where the term 'going round the bend' came from as you contemplate the bewitching calm of the khors - Oman's own fjords.

Ascend Jebel Shams (Mountain of the Sun) and peer into the shadows of Wadi Ghul - the Grand Canyon of Arabia - pausing to buy a goat-haired carpet from the mountain's itinerant weavers.

Swim or snorkel from a pristine beach among the ray, tuna and shoals of sardines that frequent the shores of the Arabian Sea, and beachcomb for top shells and colourful, banded pebbles.

Ride a camel across the Sharqiya Sands on a desert safari, returning to a barbeque of camel and goat kebabs and a night under the starry sky.

Go birdwatching in the eagle capital of the world at Al-Ansab lagoons and Qurm Natural Park, or look for flamingos, spoonbills and flocks of wading birds at Barr Al-Hickman

Take a 4-wheel drive off-road into the fringe of the Empty Quarter, across the interior plains, up vertiginous mountain tracks or through the green pastures of Dhofar's summer meadows.

Get up close to Oman's world-famous geological attractions by rockclimbing in the wadis (dry river beds) of the Hajja Mountains or by hiking up to Jebel Akhdar, Oman's top of the beanstalk mountain and home to prize pomegranates.

Enjoy a variety of watersports, including diving, windsurfing, sailing or deep-sea fishing from one of the many outlets in Muscat and Salalah, or take a trip on the wild side and organise your own fun in the sun off the desert island of Masirah

Rhai blynyddoedd

Rhai blynyddoedd

Stunning Oman Beach

Stunning Oman Beach

Mutrah Souk

Mutrah Souk

Tourists Boat Trip

Tourists Boat Trip

Muscat, Oman's capital

Muscat, Oman's capital

A fort in Oman, Nizwa<

A fort in Oman, Nizwa

Oman - Mosque

Oman - Mosque

Visa Requirements

SINGLE ENTRY VISIT VISA

This visa is issued to two groups of nationals:

List No.1

Upon arrival at all land, sea and air terminals whether individually or as part of a group, regardless of their sex or age. It is issued upon arrival in all land, sea and air entry points after duly filling the visa application form. Nationals mentioned in list No. (1) can also obtain on arrival visa when they apply to Oman diplomatic missions and commercial representation offices. Mission and offices can issue the visas without the approval of the Directorate General of Passport & Residency in Muscat. The validity period of the applicant’s passport should not be less than 6 months.

Fee: OMR 6 or its equivalent in other currencies

Visa Validity: One month

Extension Procedure: One month with same fee (OMR 6). The extension application should be presented to the Directorate General of Passport & Residency or its branches. As per the law, a fine of OMR 10 per day is charged for overstay beyond the validity of the visa.

List No.2

Visa is issued upon arrival in Oman through only air entry points either individually or as part of a group. Nationals of these countries should have purchased a tourist package from tourist companies in their countries which are approved by Ministry of Commerce & Industry. The package should include accommodation and air ticket using either Oman Air or Gulf Air (Oman’s national airline). These visas are granted regardless of sex or age.

Fee: OMR 6 or its equivalent in other currencies

Visa Validity: One month

Extension Procedure: One month with the same fee (OMR 6). The extension application should be presented to the Directorate General of Passport & Residency and its branches. As per the law, a fine of OMR 10 per day is charged for overstay beyond the validity of the visa.

MULTIPLE ENTRY VISA

All nationals in list Nos. (1) and (2) regardless of sex, age and profession are eligible for this type of visa. The validity period of the passport should not be less than one year at the time of applying. This visa is issued upon arrival at all land, sea and air entry points after duly filling the visa application form. It is also possible to get multiple entry visas through Oman diplomatic and commercial missions, the Directorate General of Passport & Residency and its branches. The validity of the applicant’s passport should not be less than one year.

Fee: OMR10 or an equal amount in other currencies

Visa Validity: One year. This type of visa allows its holder to stay in Oman for 3 weeks in each visit during the validity period of the visa. A minimum of 3 weeks must elapse between each visit

Extension Procedure: This visa cannot be extended. It is possible to apply for another visa when the previous visa expires. As per the law, a fine of OMR 10 per day is charged for overstay beyond the validity of the visa.

EXPRESS VISA

This visa is issued the same day through the Directorate General of Passport & Residency and its branches for list Nos. (1) and (2) & also for nationalities not mentioned in the list. It should be applied by Oman’s commercial or tourist establishment. It can also be directly applied through diplomatic missions and commercial representation offices abroad. The visa is issued on working days within 24 hours unless there are justifications, which hinder the issuing of the visa. The validity of the passport should not be less than 6 month from the application date.

Fee: OMR7 or an equal amount in other currencies

Visa Validity: Two weeks

Extension Procedure: This visa can not be extended, a fine of OMR 10 per day is charged for overstay beyond the validity of the visa.

COMMON VISA FACILITY WITH THE EMIRATE OF DUBAI

Nationals from countries in List Nos.(1) arriving from Emirate of Dubai to Oman bearing an entrance visa or stamp from the Emirate of Dubai are not required to obtain a separate visa for Oman. The Entry stamp/Visa for Dubai is recognized for entry to Oman, whether individually or as groups entering through land, air or sea terminals regardless of the sex or age after filling in the designated forms.

Fee: No fee is charged. Fee is only paid to the relevant authorities in the Emirate of Dubai

Visa Validity: The bearer of the visa is allowed to stay for the period of the visa issued to him or a maximum of 3 weeks.

Extension Procedure: The visa may not be extended. As per the law, a fine of OMR 10 per day is charged for overstay beyond the validity of the visa.

BUSINESS VISIT VISA

This visa is granted to businessmen, experts, technicians, engineers, etc. who are invited by companies or institutions as trading partners or for conducting studies at the request of a local sponsor. The visa can be used within six months from the date of issuing. The sponsor must be a local with full legal capacity, and be responsible for the information stated in the application form.

Fee: RO 6

Visa Validity: It is a single-entry visa valid for one month from the date of entry. Copy of applicant’s passport should be valid for three months.

Extension Procedure: The visa is extendable at the discretion of the Directorate General of Passports and Residence. As per the law, a fine of OMR 10 per day is charged for overstay beyond the validity of the visa.

BUSINESS MULTIPLE ENTRY VISA

Granted at the request of a local sponsor to develop commercial relations between trading partners who need to enter the country more than once. This visa is also granted to the diplomats who are accredited to the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (AGCC) States. It can be used within six months from the date of issuing. The applicant should have previously visited the same sponsor at least once with a business visit visa or an express visa.

Fee: RO 10

Visa Validity: It is a multiple entry visa valid for a period between six months to one year from the date it is stamped in the passport. The holder should not stay in Oman for more than three weeks in each visit to the country.

Extension Procedure: Not extendable. Upon its expiry, a new visa can be applied for. As per the law, a fine of OMR 10 per day is charged for overstay beyond the validity of the visa.

Amended Rules of Oman's Tourist Visas

Country List I

Tourist Visit Visa
This visa can be obtained from Oman's missions abroad without the need of a local sponsor or prior approval by the Directorate General of Passports and Residence. the visa holder can enter Oman from all entry points (air, land or sea). The visa should to be used within six months from the date of issue. The visa can also be issued from the Directorate General of Passports and Residence or any of its branches at the regional police commands at the request of a local sponsor (by a tourist company, travel agency, hotel, or an airline operating direct flights to Oman). The application will be processed on the same day it is submitted.

Fee: RO 6 or equivalent thereof in other currencies

Extension Fee: RO 6

Requirements for Tourist Visa Under a Sponsor: The sponsor must be a local with full legal capacity and be responsible for the information stated in the application form.

Tourist Visa Without a Sponsor: An application is submitted by the tourist in person to any Omani embassy or legation abroad without the need for a local sponsor. Visa Validity: It is a single-entry visa valid for one month from the date of entry. Copy of applicant's passport should be valid for three months.

Extension Procedure: The visa is extendable for a further one month by the Directorate General of Passports and Residence or any branch thereof. As per the law, a fine of OMR 10 per day is charged for overstay beyond the validity of the visa. a.

European Countries

Portugal Spain France Switzerland Italy Moldavia Hungary Austria Germany NorwayNetherlands Britain Ireland Iceland Latvia Denmark Sweden Finland Estonia Slovakia Czech Rep. Monaco Luxembourg San Marino Liechtenstein Vatican Andorra Macedonia Cyprus Malta Croatia Greece Belgium -

South American Countries

Argentina Bolivia Brazil Chile Colombia Ecuador Venezuela Paraguay Peru Suriname Uruguay French Guiana

Other Countries

Australia Brunei Dar al-Salaam Canada Lebanon Hong Kong Indonesia Japan Malaysia New Zealand Seychelles SingaporeGuiana South Africa South Korea Taiwan Thailand United States Turkey Tunis

Country List II

Tourist Visit Visa
This visa can be obtained from the Directorate General of Passports and Residence or any branch thereof at the regional police commands by a local sponsor. The application will be processed within two days from the date it is submitted. The visa has to be used within six months from the date of issue. The application will be processed on the same day it is submitted.

Fee: RO 6 or equivalent thereof in other currencies

Extension Fee: RO 6

Visa Validity: It is a single-entry visa valid for one month from the date of entry. Copy of applicant's passport should be valid for three months.

Extension Procedure: The visa is extendable for a further one month by the Directorate General of Passports and Residence or any branch thereof. As per the law, a fine of OMR 10 per day is charged for overstay beyond the validity of the visa.

Multi Entry Visas

This visa can be obtained from all Omani missions abroad after verification of the supporting documents, the mission concerned will send the application to the Directorate General of Passports and Residence for approval. The latter will process the application within two days from the date it is submitted.

Fee: RO 10 or equivalent thereof in other currencies

Visa Validity: Valid for one year from the date of issue. the holder can stay in the country for three weeks in each visit. The holder can return to Oman at any time during the validity of the visa.

Extension Procedure: Not extendable. Upon its expiry, a new visa can be applied for. As per the law, a fine of OMR 10 per day is charged for overstay beyond the validity of the visa.

Egypt Iran India Jordan Albania Morocco Syria Byelorussia Bulgaria Russian Federation China Poland Romania Bosnia - Herzegovina Ukraine

For more information on visa procedures visit www.rop.gov.om

Where to Stay

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Events

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