Safety and security

Road travel  

If you are a visitor you can drive a rental car using your UK driving licence (both parts must be shown). If you are applying for residence in Oman you can also drive on a UK driving licence until your residency permit is issued. After that, you will need to apply for an Omani driving licence within 6 weeks of receiving your residence card. Residents may find that a UK driving licence is not deemed valid for insurance purposes if an accident occurs.

Driving is on the right. If you are involved in a major road traffic accident you must stay with your vehicle and call the Royal Oman Police (ROP) on 9999. If you are involved in a minor accident, it may not be necessary to call the police, but you must follow the procedures set out on the ROP website. You must keep a Minor Road Traffic Accident form in your car. You can get one from the ROP website or from your insurance company. Car rental companies are responsible for keeping forms in their cars.

Driving can be dangerous outside Muscat; there is a risk of hitting wandering camels and goats on the road. Rainfall can cause sudden and severe flooding in dry riverbeds and on roads that cross them.

The standard of Omani roads is generally good. Driving standards in Oman are not always as disciplined as those in the UK, and the rate of traffic accidents in Oman is significantly higher.

The Omani authorities strictly enforce traffic laws, and there are strong punishments for traffic offences, including fines of up to OMR3000 or jail sentences of up to three years. Seatbelts must be worn by all passengers in a vehicle, and child car seats are mandatory for all children under 4 years of age. It’s illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving. There’s zero tolerance towards drink-driving. Speed limits are clearly posted on major roads.

Excursions to the desert and mountains can be dangerous unless you are in an adequately equipped 4x4 vehicle. Always travel in convoy, take a supply of water and a mobile telephone (or satellite phone) and leave a copy of your travel plans with friends or relatives. You should also make sure you’re insured. 

Sea travel

Many areas of the Gulf of Aden are highly sensitive. Vessels entering these areas have been detained and inspected, and there have been occasional arrests. You should make careful enquiries before entering these waters or visiting ports. You should also consider how regional tensions may affect your route. Vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab El Mandeb regions may be at increased risk of maritime attack.

Recent piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, highlight that the threat of piracy related activity and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remains significant. Reports of attacks on local fishing dhows in the area around the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa continue. The combined threat assessment of the international Naval Counter Piracy Forces remains that all sailing yachts under their own passage should remain out of the designated High Risk Area or face the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom. For more information and advice, see our Piracy and armed robbery at sea page.

The safety of tourist boats may not be up to UK standards. Make sure life jackets are available for all passengers.

Political situation

There’s a possibility of unannounced demonstrations throughout the country. You should avoid all demonstrations.

Developments in the Middle East continue to have an impact on local public opinion. You should be aware of local sensitivities on these issues. Follow news reports and be alert to local and regional developments, which might trigger public disturbances.