Local laws and customs
Local laws reflect the fact that Oman is an Islamic country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. Women should dress modestly in public areas. Clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs, and underwear should not be visible. You should not wear swimming attire in public areas, except on tourist beaches or swimming pools. Women wearing shorts, or tight-fitting clothes, are likely to attract attention.
In 2018, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 15 May and finish on 14 June. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. Eating, drinking, smoking, playing loud music and dancing in public places during daylight hours of Ramadan is strictly forbidden and punishable by law, including for non-Muslims. See Travelling during Ramadan
Reported cases of sexual assault against foreign women are low. Personal attacks, including sexual assault and rape, are relatively rare, but do happen. Female visitors and residents should take care when walking or travelling alone. You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as you would in the UK.
Hobbies that involve cameras and binoculars like bird watching and plane spotting may be misunderstood - particularly if you are near military sites, government buildings and airports.
The use of bad language and rude gestures is considered an obscene act, including whilst driving or on social media. Public displays of affection may get you into trouble with the police.
Carry a copy of your passport, or your Omani ID if you are a resident, at all times for identification and keep the original document in a safe place.
If you are subject to a travel ban, involved in legal proceedings, fraud, bounced cheques, have unpaid debt or are a child subject to a custody dispute, you may be prevented from leaving the country. You could be fined and/or detained if you overstay or fail to extend your legal residency. You can be fined up to OMR10 per day up to a maximum of OMR500 for overstaying.
Foreign nationals must pay all outstanding debts and traffic fines before leaving the country. If you haven’t paid fines before you leave you may experience delays or be prevented from leaving the country. You can pay fines at the airport.
Importing drugs and pornography into Oman is illegal and can lead to imprisonment.
The penalties for drug trafficking, smuggling and possession, of even residual amounts, of drugs are severe. In some cases, the death penalty could apply. There is no distinction in Omani law between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ drugs; both are treated with equal severity.
Licensed hotels and restaurants sell alcohol. If you live in Oman, you can get a licence to drink alcohol at home from the Royal Oman police. It’s an offence to drink, or be drunk, in public. The legal age for drinking alcohol is 21.
Flying drones or remote-controlled flying devices without a valid licence is against the law.
It’s against the law to live together or share the same hotel room with someone of the opposite sex to whom you aren’t married or closely related.
Homosexuality is illegal in Oman. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.