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Saturday, May 03, 2014

60 Random Things about Oman

Marhaba!! (Hello in Arabic)

Bismillah Al Rahman Al Rahim
(In the name of God, most Gracious, most Compassionate). This poetic phrase from the Quran aptly describes Oman and its people. Oman is a beautiful country abundant with natural resources and wonders and its people are extremely kind and compassionate who welcome you to their houses with warm hearts. I spent a week in this sensational Middle Eastern country last week and during my brief stay, I noticed a lot of random things about this Sultanate and have jotted them to make an interesting read for you.

Lovely Mandoos, Quewah Jars and other artifacts inside a traditional Bedouin House, Oman
1) People drive their cars on the right side of the road

2) Skype does not work in Oman. It is banned here. The only workaround is remote access.

3) Omantel holds monopoly in Oman telecom.

4) There are many Indians living in Oman. Everywhere you go, you are bound to hear people speaking in Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Gujarati and Kannada.

5) Public transport system is minimal in Oman and most of the commute is based on private cars and vehicles on hire.

The Scenic oasis town of Al Hamra in Oman
6) Most of Oman’s oil reserves are on shore when compared to the offshore reserves of the other GCC countries.

7) There is no income tax charged in Oman.

8) For the same price of petrol in Bangalore, one can get 4.5 liters of petrol in Oman.

9) Education and housing is heavily subsidized for the Omani nationals.

Traditional Souvenirs for sale at Nizwa Souk, Oman
10) There is currently a wave of Oman-ization going around in the country wherein first priority for any work or business is given to a Oman national.

11) Unlike Dubai, Muscat is still a growing city. A lot of infrastructure development is in the works.

12) Muscat is coastal, hilly and desert all at the same time. This is what makes it such a natural wonder city.

13) It is very difficult for a expat to become a Omani citizen. And till you become a Omani citizen, you cannot buy land on your own.

A Camel at Wahiba Sands, Oman
14) Muscat has some hotels that will make many hotels in the world look pale in comparison.

15) Gasoline prices in Oman are possibly the cheapest of all GCC countries.

16) About 40% of people living in Oman are expats.

17) Most of the buildings in Oman are either white or beige in colour.

18) There are no high rise buildings in Oman.

Young Bedouin Girl at Wahiba Sands, Oman
19) The Omani people do not wish for their country to open up like Dubai. They prefer its calmness and wide open spaces.

20) In the summer months, the whole country of Oman prefers to stay in an air-conditioned environment. It is only after sun down that they might decide to come out.

21) It is extremely rare to see a rainbow in Oman.

22) The rivers of Oman might be in flood one day and might be dry the other day.

A moment at Nizwa Souk, Oman
23) Oman is one of the few Middle Eastern countries to have a long coastline.

24) Oman has some of the highest sand dunes in the entire Middle East.

25) Even the Sultan of Oman carries the traditional Omani Khanjar.

26) No one in Oman knows the exact location of their Sultan.

27) Omani women do not like to get their photos clicked.

Elderly Omani Man at the entrance of Jabreen Castle, near Nizwa, Oman
28) The Omani Quewah coffee is very strong and is cherished even in the hot weather.

29) All guests to Omani houses are offered free Quewah coffee and dates.

30) Omani dates are very juicy and succulent.

31) The top speed on Omani highways is 120 kph. If you exceed this speed, you pay a fine of 10 rial for every extra 10kph in speed.

32) Honking is nearly non-existent in Oman. They all wait patiently at traffic lights, yield and drive and give right of way to pedestrians.

Outcrops on the beaches of Damaniyat Islands, Oman
33) The traditional dress for the Omani men is called a dis dasha. It is like a long gown (full length) that is worn with a dhoti/sarong inside.

34) Most Omani households have some kind of frankincense or wood based incense burning inside their house.

35) Bollywood, Tamil and Malayalam movies are regularly screened in Muscat.

36) Oman wishes to promote itself as an off beat luxury destination.

Bismillah Al Rahman Al Rahim
37) The coral reefs in Omani waters are in prime condition and its marine life is on par with some of the best in the world.

38) Omani people always play it safe as their government gives very high importance to safety.

39) Oman tourism does not recommend driving tourist vehicles after sun down.

Admiring the lovely Wahiba Sand Dunes of Oman
40) Oman has mountain peaks that exceed 10,000 feet.

41) The people of Oman love their perfumes. Be it on themselves or their houses, they are known to use perfumes and incense copiously.

42) Most of the Omani men wear intricately designed and very fashionable head gear. These are either the muzzar (turban) or the kummar (cap).

43) Omani people admit that their country will go back by 30 years if Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Filipinos are removed from their work force.

Lot of Omani Souvenirs on display at Mutrah Souk, Muscat, Oman
44) It is very rare to see a Omani national throw garbage around. Instead, they collect garbage lying on the roads and put it in their cars.

45) The biggest form of entertainment in Oman is large gatherings of family and friends where food and good health is celebrated.

46) Oman like most of the Middle East have holidays on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is their equivalent of a Western Monday. On a Friday, nearly all the shops shut down for the entire day.

47) Oman has lots of available land. Hence, most of their houses are built on larger areas and have larger rooms.

Beautiful windows at Mattrah Souk, Muscat, Oman
48) The Omani government loves to flaunt its wealth, but not in a garish way. Everything is done with taste, design and lots of open spaces.

49) Oman plans for a Grand mosque in each of its cities.

50) The Sultan of Oman has a penchant for opera performances. Hence, he has built a grand opera house in Muscat for himself and his people.

51) While most of Oman gets very less rainfall, the southern side of the country in Salalah gets some part of the south west monsoon from India and the locals celebrate it as the Kharif season. A lot of GCC nationals flock to Salalah to enjoy the greenery and rains.

Lovely Coastal spread of Oman's Sur
52) A lot of Omani nationals speak English, especially in the larger cities.

53) A lot of Turkish and Lebanese food like Pita bread, Hummus, Tabouleh, etc. are commonly available in Oman.

54) Indian food is easily available in Oman. This specially applies to food from Kerala or Tamil Nadu.

55) All the expats in Oman who come from South India are referred to as Malabari.

56) A lot of Omanis travel to India for cheaper medical treatment.

Scenic Shipbuilding town of Sur in Oman
57) Omani women occupy a lot of important positions in private and government organizations.

58) A lot of Omani nationals are experts in dune bashing.

59) Omani women pay special attention to their eyes while making up. It is no wonder that they stand out in their completely covered clothing and hijab (head dress).

60) A lot of cruise ships from around the world stop at Oman to allow their customers explore this sensational country.

Young Bedouins ride on camels in the desert of Oman
Shukran!! (Thank you in Arabic)



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