Oman

Like a treasure chest waiting to be discovered, the Sultanate of Oman is the land heralded as the Jewel of Arabia. With its splendour and wealth having been acclaimed by world travellers such as Marco Polo, this breathtaking destination boasts a fascinating history imbued with rich cultural traditions spanning 5,000 years. Oman is a country of fascinating contrasts, it is a land of friendly faces and exceptional hospitality, of vast barren deserts and rocky deep water fjords, of ancient forts and luxurious hotels.

When to Visit

While summer's high temperatures mean that tourists are few and far between, the remainder of the year brings sunny blue skies and perfect weather for visitors. While Oman only experiences a few days of rain each year, southern Oman has a monsoonal climate, bringing rain during the summer months of June to August.

Highlights

WAHIBA SANDS Vast stretches of sand dunes soaring up to 150 metres high disappear into the horizon in every direction. Watching the sun set over the dunes before enjoying a Bedouin feast under the stars is a magical experience.

JEBEL SHAMS Without a doubt, the most spectacular views in Oman are from Jebel Shams. At 3,300m, it is the highest point on the Arabian Peninsula. Beneath it lies the breathtakingly beautiful Grand Canyon of Arabia.

MUSANDAM PENINSULA At the far northern tip of Oman, isolated from the rest of the country, lies the Musandam Peninsula. The stunning peaks of the fjords plunge into the azure waters, where tropical reefs provide shelter for an abundance of colourful fish.

MUSCAT Muscat is the heart of Oman, where the ancient and modern live side-by-side in perfect harmony. A fascinating maze of souks and colonial heritage exists alongside water sports, shopping, cafes and a beach culture.

MUTTRAH SOUK Muttrah Souk is the oldest market place in Oman. Frankincense, spices, dates and antiques jostle for space with electronic products, Barbie dolls and fashion accessories. It is a maze of pathways leading through narrow, winding alleys and by-lanes.

SALALAH Facing south over the Arabian Sea, Salalah boasts pristine white beaches to accompany its enviable climate. Its beautiful hotels, colourful souks and stunning natural backdrop ensures it’s a favourite of visitors to Oman.

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Useful Information

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Oman. Frequent or long stay travellers should consider vaccination against hepatitis B. Vaccination against rabies (particularly if working with animals) and typhoid (particularly when travelling to areas with poor sanitation and hygiene) should be considered by travellers to Oman. There is a medium risk of malaria in Oman, thus insect avoidance measures and anti malarial medication may be necessary depending on your itinerary. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Oman should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. Medications that are legal in New Zealand may be illegal in other countries.

Electricity

Electrical Socket type: British and European. Voltage: 220-240 volts (same as New Zealand, no voltage/frequency converter required). Modem Plug: US and British. To purchase electrical adapters,or for further information, go to www.korjo.com.au.

Communications

Country Code for Oman: +968 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz Emergency Services: 9999 (or 999) The emergency services may not have English speaking staff. To avoid delay it may be best to seek the assistance of an Arabic speaker to call the emergency services.

Shopping

Shopping in the Gulf is one of the chief modes of entertainment for locals and foreign residents alike. Being a Muslim country, Oman's night life is somewhat limited. Bars exist only in the fanciest of hotels; there is only the occasional concert or play, usually events that are sponsored by one of the embassies; and night clubs, as such, really do not exist. Opening Hours Most shops are open between ca. 9:00 a.m. and 13:00. They then reopen around 16:00 and close around 21:00, depending on what kind of shop it is and where it is. One supermarket/department store, The Sultan Center is open 24 hours a day. Most hold to those hours between Saturday and Thursday and are only open during the evenings on Fridays. Exceptions: Travel agents, airlines, doctors and dentists practices are all closed starting in the afternoon on Thursday and all day Friday.

Tipping

A tip of 10 percent is considered the norm at hotels and restaurants. It is not normal to tip custodians of museums, forts and such like.

Getting around

The national carrier flies daily to Salalah from Muscat and has regular flights to Sur, Khasab, Dibba and Massirah Island. By Road, visitors can drive around the country freely as long as they have valid international driving licenses. Intercity (state run) buses (ONTC), have daily service to most of the main provincial towns of Oman. Oman has an excellent comprehensive system of service taxis and microbuses. You can also engage a taxi or microbus privately by paying for all the seats in it. Muscat is the only city in the country with a local bus service. In other towns and cities, service taxis and microbuses run with passengers packed like sardines.

Language

Arabic, English & Baluchi

Customs

Omanis are very polite and formal in public. Upon meeting, formulaic greetings must be exchanged before a discussion can ensue. To do otherwise would be considered rude. Although men and women may interact in public, their contact should always be chaperoned or in the open. Even educated elite women often find it necessary to be chaperoned by a male relative at public events, parties, or receptions. Omanis tend to stand close to one another as Arabs do, and it is common for friends and relatives of the same sex to hold hands. Two or more men or women entering a doorway at the same time always try to persuade the others to enter first, although a man always invites a woman to enter first. On the other hand, forming lines in shops, banks, and other public places is not a cultural trait, although women invariably are encouraged to go first.

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

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