Safety in Oman in Public Places
There have been protests in the country, but most of them have been peaceful and haven't affected the safety in Oman. It is probably a good idea to avoid large demonstrations of any sort here, especially in border areas which can be dicey. There have been reports of harassment and arrests of dissenting voices, especially as an amendment in the penal code in 2011 allowed for the arrest and detainment of individuals without an arrest warrant. Keep an eye out for public gatherings, especially during mid-day.
Social Precautions To Take When in Oman
1. Don't Mock The Sultan: Any criticism against Sultan Sayyid Qaboos bin Said Al Said, even jokingly, is considered taboo.
2. Don't Mock the Country Too: Maintaining a good reputation is significant here and it is important to keep in mind while interacting with the locals. It is best to avoid making any remarks about the country, the government or local officials.
3. Avoid Loud and Brash Behaviour: Displays of anger such as gesturing impatiently or loud arguments are not well-received. The Omanis are calm people, and showing anger publicly could be grounds for filing a complaint.
4. Liquor License and Legality: Although Oman is a Muslim country, it doesn't mean that alcohol isn't available in the country; hotel establishments with liquor licenses such as the Shangri-La, InterContinental and Grand Hyatt serve alcohol to patrons. Moreover, liquor licenses can be obtained from the Royal Oman Police. The legal drinking age in the country is 21 years old.
5. Contain the Alcohol When Visiting During Ramadan: Keep in mind that public intoxication, however, is illegal. During the month of Ramadan, these privileges are curtailed. Eating, drinking, smoking, and playing loud music in public spaces during daylight is forbidden. Anyone who is caught breaking this law can be arrested.
6. Courtesy When Visiting Local Homes: Keep in mind that it is considered rude to arrive without a gift of some sort, and remember to take off your shoes before entering the house.
Inoffensive Attire In Oman
7. Modesty is Key in Oman: It is advisable to dress modestly to avoid hurting the sentiments of the local people. In Oman, it's impolite to wear skimpy outfits in public, regardless of gender.
8. Keep it Covered: Women should ideally cover their chest, thighs, midriff and shoulders, although they do not need to cover their heads unless they are about to enter a mosque. Men should avoid shorts and sleeveless t-shirts.
9. No Ripped, No Offense: Ripped clothing and slogan t-shirts with provocative slogans or images should probably be avoided.
10. Full-Length Swimwear: While two-piece swimsuits can be worn in private beaches, it's best to cover up as soon as you leave the swimming area. In public beaches, it is best to wear full-length swimming outfits. Bikinis, speedos, and revealing swimwear shouldn't be worn.
Road Safety in Oman
12. Keep Extra Food & Water: Always keep extra bottles of water in the car for these instances, especially when exploring the desert areas.
13. Beware the Flash Floods: Oman, like many countries in the Middle East, is prone to flash floods. It's especially dangerous to be in these abandoned stretches during that time. In case of rain, head to the high ground and follow the advice of local authorities. Many travellers have gotten lost in the desert during these rains, some even drowning from high levels of water.
Safety Around Women and Couples in Oman
Female travellers have a great deal of freedom in Oman. However, as an interaction between the genders is relatively minimal, simple interactions with locals can be misinterpreted.
14. Stay in Your Limits: Outside of urban areas like Muscat and Salalah, it is advisable to not smile or stay too close to the opposite gender as this can be deemed flirtatious behaviour.
15. Sit With Same-Gendered Passengers: In public transport, it is better to avoid sitting next to male co-passengers.
16. Ask Before Photographing: While taking photographs with locals, it's important to ask their permission first. This is especially true for Omani women who might be upset at being photographed without their consent.
17. Ask Before Any Physical Contact: This extends to physical touch. If a local does not offer first, it's better to avoid it.
18. No PDA: Despite its flexibility to tourists, Oman is relatively conservative with regard to relationships. Couples should minimize public displays of affection to avoid catching attention as this kind of behaviour is considered offensive.
19. Unmarried Couples Beware of Stay: It is illegal to live together or share a hotel room with a member of the opposite sex who is not a spouse or relative, though the more posh hotels turn a blind eye to this.
Safety in Oman for LGBTQ Travellers
As with all countries in the Middle East, the Omani government does not condone LGBT activities. Homosexuality is illegal here. According to Article 33 of the Omani Penal Code, erotic acts and relationships between individuals of the same sex are a punishable offence of six months to three years in jail. But, unlike its neighbours, Oman is more tolerable. Unless individuals display outright homosexual behaviour or announce it, they probably won't be bothered during their travels.
20. Protip: Unlike unmarried heterosexual couples, they can easily rent hotel rooms in the country. There is an underground scene for the LGBTQ community which is discreet and low-key.
Although some might disagree with the belief and traditional nature of Oman, it is we who are being allowed into their country and culture. So, it is important to respect their wishes and sentiments. For travellers and locals too, the safety in Oman is pretty good. As long as these basic guidelines are followed, it should be a hassle-free trip for all involved!