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Last updated : Nov 2009
Oman Social Profile
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Food & Drink

Several restaurants have opened in recent years, but many people retain the habit of dining at hotels. There is a huge variety of cuisine on offer, including Arabic, Oriental, Indian, European and other international dishes. Coffee houses are also popular.

Waiter service is the usual. Muslim law forbids alcohol, however most hotel bars and restaurants serve alcohol. Visitors are only allowed to drink alcohol in licensed restaurants and hotels. To buy alcohol for home consumption, Western nationals must acquire a licence from their embassy.


There are a few bars and nightclubs in Muscat, mostly in the hotels. There are three air conditioned cinemas in Ruwi and an open air cinema at the al-Falaj Hotel showing Indian, Arab and English films.


The modern shops are mostly in Qurum and Ruwi. The 2 main souks (markets) are situated in Matrah and Nizwa. Traditional crafts include silver and gold jewellery, coffeepots, khanjars (Omani daggers), saddles, frankincense, carpets, handwoven textiles, baskets and camel straps.

Antique khanjars (over 50 years old) can not be exported. It is advised to check with the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture for the necessary documentation before purchasing.

Shopping hours are from Saturday to Thursday 8.00 am to 1.00 pm and 4.00 pm to 8.00 pm.

Souks open from 8.00 am to 11.00 pm and 4.00 pm to 7.00 pm. Many shops close on Fridays. Opening hours are 1 hour later during Ramadan.

Social Conventions

Shaking hands is the general form of greeting. A small gift, either promoting your company or country, is well received. As far as dress code is concerned, it is important that women dress modestly, for example long skirts or dresses (below the knee) with long sleeves.

Tight fitting clothes must be avoided and although this is not strictly followed by Westerners, it is far better to adopt this practice and avoid causing offence. Shorts should never be worn in public and beachwear is prohibited for anywhere except the beach.


Collecting sea shells, corals, abalone, crayfish and turtle eggs is also prohibited, as well as dumping litter. It is polite not to smoke in public, however no smoking signs are posted where appropriate.

Visitors should ask permission before photographing people or their property. ‘No Photography’ signs exist in certain places and must be observed.


Tipping has become more common and 10 % should be given.