Oman is an amazing country that has managed to preserve the original oriental culture, and at the same time trying to keep up with the modern world.
Language and population
According to Countryaah, about 90% of the local population are Arabs, the rest of the people have Indian, Persian, African and Iranian roots. About 200 thousand foreigners live permanently in Oman, mostly specialists and workers. Arabic is the traditional language in Oman. The population of the Sultanate is 2 million 846 thousand people.
In Oman, the official religion is Kharijite Islam. About 75% of the population are Kharijite Muslims, as well as Sunni Muslims.
Traditions and culture
Despite the fact that the state is located near the entrance to the Persian Gulf, it is distinguished by a noticeable isolation. Oman is separated from its neighbors by mountains, the sea and deserts. Prior to the oil “boom”, the country was seriously suffering from a lack of natural resources such as fertile land and moisture. People, entire cities and regions had to make titanic efforts in order to survive. This had an impact on the character of the locals. Omanis are focused, independent and self-sufficient, but they are not alien to a certain charm. The speech of local residents is calm and quiet, without expressing unnecessary emotions. Check agooddir for recent history of Oman.
On the territory of Oman, the fortress of family ties is incredibly strong. These connections unite communities and are reflected in the names of people. The prefix “bent” means “daughter”, “ibn” or “ben” – “son”, “al” – “from the family”, “beni” or “bani” – “from the tribe”.
Oman is a patriarchal state, here several generations of a person are often mentioned in the name. For example, the name of the Sultan sounds like this: Qaboos bin Said bin Teymur bin Faisal bin Türki bin Said bin Sultan bin Ahmad al-Said.
The owner of the Omani house is the father or husband. According to the traditions of Oman, the wife comes to live in her husband’s house. According to Islam, a man can have no more than 4 wives, but equal treatment of each of the women is mandatory. Most men in Oman prefer monogamous relationships. The possibility of remarriage for a man is considered in individual cases, for example, if the infertility of his wife is revealed.
Marriage in Islam is a civil ceremony, it is concluded by a qadi (judge), and the bride and groom sign the marriage contract. The ceremony is attended by members of each of the spouses. Holidays on the occasion of the wedding can last up to several days. Interestingly, in the Sultanate, women and men celebrate their weddings separately.
Omani girls marry after puberty, although the marriage age for women has recently been raised because the Sultan of Oman encourages education opportunities for local women. Therefore, many women seek education and work in the private or public sector.
Divorces in the state are very rare, despite the fact that in Islam, in order to obtain a divorce, a man must repeat to his wife three times “I am divorcing you.” A woman has the opportunity to apply for divorce to a judge if her husband does not support her well, or if he turns out to be impotent or a traitor. In practice, divorce in Oman is a complex matter for each of the parties, because family honor is most important here. For example, a cheating wife will disgrace not so much her own husband as her brothers and father.
Modern Oman is a young country. About 50% of the local population is under 20 years of age. In Oman, culture and traditions are undergoing rapid changes, so it is not easy for the Sultan to be the head of such a young state in the 21st century.
The role of women
On the territory of Oman, the female half of the population is allowed to take an active part in public life (especially in comparison with other Gulf countries). Over 50% of all university students in Oman are women. Here they are engaged in banking, medicine, teaching. In 1996, the Sultan of Oman made the following statement: “Many years ago I said that if the energy, ability and enthusiasm of a woman were excluded from the active life of the state, the country would lose half of its wealth. I am very concerned that this does not happen to Oman. With a feeling of deep satisfaction and confidence, I look forward to further progress from the women of our country.”
Code of conduct
Many aspects of life in Oman are subject to traditional Islamic customs and norms, so some rules of conduct should be observed here. When visiting public places, women are advised to avoid overly tight or open robes and short skirts, and men – sleeveless T-shirts and shorts. The wearing of local clothes by visiting Europeans is not approved here, so you should not dress in the Arabic style, although no one will openly condemn you. Visiting the mosque by non-Muslims is prohibited (there is a limited entrance to the mosque of Sultan Qaboos in the city of Muscat). Clothing must be neat.
Rules of conduct and traditions
When visiting the call centers of banks, post offices and other public places, it is important to consider the presence of separate windows for women. In a taxi for women, the back seat is intended, in fixed-route taxis – the front seat.
The inhabitants of Oman are quite sociable and can easily talk to a stranger, but the choice of topics for communication is severely limited. For example, you should not talk about personal life (but you can talk about family), about local women, religion, customs and laws. Interestingly, a question to a local resident about the number of her children or about her husband would be appropriate. The authority of the Sultan in Oman is not discussed (he is indisputable), so any words and statements about him and his family can be perceived at least hostilely.
Omani traditions suggest that when meeting men, they will either shake hands or kiss each other twice. To greet a woman by the hand (and in general to touch her) is possible only when it has been agreed with her or her husband and is allowed. At the same time, an adequate greeting of a woman (even with a closed face) is a horn signal addressed to her, or a wave of her hand. Residents of Oman are not particularly punctual.
The hospitality of the locals is known far beyond the borders of the country. Refusal of an invitation to be a guest here can be regarded as a personal insult to the owner of the house. At the time of entering the house, you must take off your shoes and follow the master’s orders. The meal in Oman is held without sitting at the table on chairs, here they are usually placed on pillows and mats lying on the floor. The treats here are light (fruits and sweets, tea and coffee, etc.), but they are plentiful (the cup is constantly filled), while refusing it is a gesture of impoliteness.
If you want to make it clear to the owner that you respect their hospitality, but you can’t eat anything else, you need to shake the cup in your hands. Remember: do not take food with your left hand. Rice is taken with a pinch, pasty dishes can be taken with a slice of bread. The meal is completed with a toothpick (“hatab asnan”) or caraway seeds (“annut”) for fresh breath.
Photo and video shooting
In Oman, it is forbidden to film political and military installations, the interior of mosques, and airports. Be careful when doing household shootings: you should not point the lens and take photos of men without their consent. Photographs of priests and women should also not be taken, and even the police can interfere with filming and photography.
On the territory of the Sultanate there are strict environmental protection standards. It is forbidden to collect any natural objects, including shells, on the seashore of Ras al-Hadd and Ras al-Juneiz. Do not speak loudly or click the shutter or flash of the camera. When visiting natural areas, it is necessary to dress in dark clothes. Protected areas can be visited by 60 people at the same time. It is not allowed here to visit reserves and nature reserves without special permission. You should not take photographs or collect grass, or approach animals during the mating season. Under nature protection is such an animal as the oryx antelope.
The lifting of shells and corals from the seabed, as well as trophies from shipwrecks, is strictly prohibited. Spearfishing or fishing is possible under a license in a strictly organized manner. Before visiting protected areas, you should consult with the local Directorate of Nature Reserves (located in Muscat).
Holidays in Oman
November 18 – National Day, November 9 – Birthday of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, January 1 – New Year.
In accordance with the Muslim lunar calendar, Oman celebrates Eid al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan), Eid al-Fitr (3-4 days after the end of Ramadan, lasts 2 days), Eid al-Adha (the Feast of Sacrifice for 40 day after Ramadan, lasts 3 days). Also here is celebrated Leylat al-Miraj (the day of the ascension of the Prophet Muhammad, June-July), the Muslim New Year (1st day of the month of Muharram), the holy month of Ramadan (December-January).
It is worth knowing that all the dates of religious holidays in Islamic calendars begin at sunset and last until a new sunset. During Ramadan, the opening hours of local institutions, shops and restaurants, entertainment venues and other organizations change.