Located in the Middle East, Oman rests on the southeastern end of the Arabian Peninsula. Its neighbors are United Arab Emirates in the northwest, Saudi Arabia in the west, and Yemen in the southwest. Apart from that, within Oman are two exclaves, separated from it by the United Arab Emirates, the Musandam Peninsula and Madha. It is the oldest independent state in the Arab world.
Oman is regarded as one of the more traditional countries in the Gulf region and as such, tourists are expected to respect their beautiful and unique culture, and in turn, Omani people treat them very kindly. Omanis are warm and friendly people, some even say they are the friendliest people in the world and tourists are always welcome in their country. Consequently, since this is a religious and traditional state, crime of any kind is strictly punishable, which makes Oman a very safe country for any tourist.
Warnings & Dangers in Oman
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Overall, Oman is a very safe country. It is highly friendly and warm toward tourists, and crime rate is fairly low, so apart from petty crime on the streets there isn't too much to worry about.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Public transportation is available but not very reliable in Oman. Some buses can go from A to B and from B to C, but not from C to A which makes it easy to get lost or stranded somewhere without a way back. However the buses are comfortable, cheap and very safe. You can easily get ripped off when taking a taxi, since they're not metered, so be careful and negotiate your ride in advance.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Even though pickpockets are not the primary cause for concern in the Middle East, pickpocketing does happen, and this applies to Oman, too. Be careful in crowded places and markets, and leave your jewelry and passports at home. Some passport thefts have been reported as well as wallets. Never keep all your money in the same place.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Tropical storms are fairly common in Oman and while its climate is generally dry, heavy rains do fall, usually during winter. Flash floods are also known to happen and they can even cause injuries and deaths. Cyclones coming from the Indian Ocean occasionally make landfall in Oman during summer.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Crime rate in Oman is low, and consequently cases of mugging and kidnapping are rarely, if ever, reported.
TERRORISM RISK : HIGH
Threat of terrorist attack is a serious issue in Oman. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advised travelers "to exercise a high degree of caution in Oman because of the high threat of terrorist attack". The United States Department of State expressed concern over possibility of terrorist attacks against citizens of the United States. Attacks could be indiscriminate, and happen in places visited by foreigners and tourists so be aware of your surroundings at all times.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are a couple of scams that can happen in Oman. Sometimes the expiration dates on food and drinks in supermarkets get "prolonged" by the merchants so the people would buy them even though they are no longer consumable. Vendors may either try and charge more or give the wrong change, and taxi drivers might try to rip you off. However, these scams are not that common and should be easy to detect.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Travelling as a woman in Oman is easy and safe. As long as you respect their culture, dress appropriately and are friendly, you will have no problem. Apart from standard safety rules you should apply (not walking alone at night, not finding yourself alone with strange men, not taking taxis in isolated areas at night) there isn't much to worry about.
So... How Safe Is Oman Really?
Given that this country is know for its friendly and kind people and strict laws, it is no wonder that crime rate in Oman is low. Occurrences of serious crime are fairly rare in this state and the Royal Oman Police is known to be highly efficient and not prone to bribery. However, petty crime including theft of property does happen and you should be vigilant when handling your valuables.
Another safety issue in Oman is driving. Driving in this country requires the highest level of attention and you should really use all your senses and expect the unexpected: Oman has the second highest death rate from traffic accidents in the world. When outside of the cities, Omanis are notorious for driving very fast. Driving at night is especially dangerous as many drivers don’t even turn their headlights on. Another thing that happens is that camels often walk straight out on the road even when they see cars approaching, and these encounters often end fatally for both camels and drivers.
Current political situation in the Middle East is such that, at the moment, Oman has a higher degree of political tension in the state. Be wary of large gatherings and demonstrations. Even thought they are usually peaceful, those that occur near the United Arab Emirates border can turn violent and even have fatal consequences.
Apart from these precaution measures, follow your common sense and your trip will go smoothly because unlike some of its neighbors, Oman is open towards visitors.
- Visas - Most visitors to Oman must obtain a visa before travelling to Oman. As a tourist, you can get a visa upon arrival at any land, sea or air entry port in the country. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Oman. if you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - Omani rial is the currency in Oman. You can withdraw your money from ATMs across the state and exchanging your money at the National Bank of Oman is recommended.
- Weather - The climate in Oman is very hot, with very big differences between maximum and minimum daily temperatures. Oman has very low annual rainfall, happening mostly between December and April. Temperatures can reach as high as 49 °C, which is why the best time to visit is between December and March, when the temperatures are mild and pleasant. Winters, typically, are mild in Oman.
- Airports - Muscat International Airport, formerly known as Seeb International Airport, is the main and busiest international airport in Oman and is situated 32 km from the old city. Salalah International Airport is Oman's secondary international airport.
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Oman, since it covers not only costs of medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.