Within the Middle East, Oman is a country that is covered very little in media. Indeed, their foreign policies are based on not getting involved in the international scene.
Intrigued by this unique country, I decided to rent a car while I was visiting UAE and drive there.
At the border, I got my passport stamp quite fast, and I returned back to the car looking forward to reaching Muscat before sunset.
Suddenly a policeman jumped in front of me. I stepped on the brakes instantly. He was a customs officer. Obviously, I would have stopped before if I guessed that the dude lying half-asleep on an armchair might need something from me.
He shouted at me: “You don’t want to talk to me before you leave?” I replied in an amused tone: “If I knew that you were here, I’d have stopped to have a tea with you.”
He started laughing, and said: Then come in and have a tea with me.”
Half an hour later, including 2 cups of tea and a great discussion, I continued my trip to Muscat.
Did you know...
- Oman Is One Of The Oldest Human-Inhabited Places On Earth
Humans have lived in what is now known as Oman for at least 106,000 years and the city of Dereaze is at least 9,000 years old.
- Oman Was Once Colonized By The Portuguese
When the Portuguese entered the Indian Ocean trade they coveted the port of Muscat and took over the Omanis for almost 150 years until local tribesman drove them out in 1650.
- Oman Is Currently The Oldest Independent State In The Arab World
The current ruling dynasty, the Al-Saids took power in 1749, even though there was a brief period in 1913 in which Oman split into two countries with the religious Imams ruling the interior with the Sultans ruling the coast and the current capital city of Muscat.
- Terrorism Does Not Exist In Oman
Terrorist attacks are nonexistent in Oman. The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) reports that Oman and Qatar are the only two countries in the region where terrorism has had no impact.
- Crime In Oman Is “Extremely Rare”
Violent crime is almost non-existent in Oman. The United States State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security calls Oman’s violent crime “extremely rare” compared to other nations, with the most prevalent crime being petty theft.
- Omanis Are Also Eligible To Vote
As of 2002, all Omani citizens are eligible to vote for the Consultative Assembly of Oman which is the lower house of the Omani legislature.
- Oman Is Also An Oil Producer
Oman is a substantial oil producer. Since mid-2000, they have consistently produced over 900,000 barrels per day.
- “Mountain Dew” Is The Top Selling Beverage In Oman
- Tourism Will Soon Be One Of Oman’s Largest Industries
Tourism is a growing industry in Oman. In the most recent available numbers in 2013, it was reported that 2.1 million tourist visited Oman. Most of those tourists (202,000) were from Europe.
- Winter Is The Best Time To Visit Oman
The best time to visit Oman is in the winter months. The summers are blisteringly hot, but the winters feature an almost Mediterranean climate.
- Omani Were The Masters Of Shipbuilding
The Omanis were once considered among the greatest ship builders in the world. They used Coir – rope made from coconut fibers – to lash shipboards together.
- Romans Historians Referred To The Country As “Omana”
Yalainous (23-79 AD), one of the earliest Roman historians, references Oman in his work. He called it Omana.
- Oman Has A Small Population
Oman has a population of 3.2 million, but only 2.1 million are Omani. The rest are guest workers from primarily India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
- Oman Has No Income Tax
There is no income tax in Oman. Omani citizens are only required to make deductions for social security contributions.
- Tipping Is Not Required Among Omanis
Tipping is not a common practice in Oman. Some more expensive restarants may add a small service charge to your bill, but tipping is usually not required. Taxi cab drivers do not expect tips unless they help you with your bags, and then you should give them 1 or 2 Rial.
- The Frankincense Tree Grows In Abundance In Oman
Frankincense tree grow in the wild in Oman. They are prized for their aromatic resin often used in perfumes and religious rituals. The city of Ubar once controlled much of the Frankincense trade but was destroyed because it was thought to have strayed too far from religious principles.
- Omanis Breed The Finest Arab Horses
Oman is famous for breeding Arab horses. The horses are quite expensive and sold throughout the world. It is said that Zaad AL-Rakeb was the first horse in Arabia and the Omani Arab horses are said to be part of his bloodline.
- In Order To Buy Alcohol, Omanis Need To Get A Permit
You must have a permit to purchase alcohol in Oman. Oman does not prohibit alcohol, but you must buy a permit that allows you to spend up to 10% of your income on alcohol.
- Oman Has Only One Public University
There is only one public university in Oman. Sultan Qaboos University has over 15,000 students, and the student body is almost evenly divided between men and women.