Oman - You Cannot Be Serious!
Oman has some laws which visitors may find a little odd, but ignore them at your peril!
It’s illegal to show anger in any way. Verbal abuse, gesturing with impatience, even the wrong facial expression can be grounds for someone filing a complaint and no one in Oman is immune from this. Even an accusation of ‘being frustrated’ is enough to initiate legal proceedings.
If you’re reading this and thinking “Are you serious?” that’s exactly the kind of thing you want to avoid saying.
This can become quite difficult if you’re dealing with someone that’s not as reasonable as you’d like, especially while driving where you may well encounter some very difficult people.
While you may think it is reasonable to tell someone driving like a lunatic exactly what you think of them and honk your horn, remember that this could lead to your stay in the country being a lot longer than you’d like.
Foreigners who have been accused of a crime are not usually permitted to leave the country while legal proceedings are continuing.
As this includes proceedings related to defamation or ‘showing frustration’ this is something you really have to watch out for.
Omani police are excellent. They are fair, very good at their jobs, not corrupt and take pride in their work. The law of Oman tends to reflect the general Omani attitude of logic and reason, while maintaining their cultural attitudes.
Serious crimes such as murder and drug possession can be punished by the death penalty.
They make no distinction between hard or soft drugs. Import or even possession of small quantities can result in a prison sentence, or worse.
Like most Muslim countries, there are restriction on pork products, alcohol, pornography and how you dress.
Pornography is completely illegal, however there are some specially licensed places for non-Muslims. Oman tends to be like that, they have their own way but give a little freedom for people who don’t follow it.
It is still illegal to drink alcohol or be drunk in public, so remember that if you’re going from one destination to another if you’ve been drinking.
Omani hotels may refuse accommodation to mixed sex couples unless they’re married and are carrying proof. So be sure to check in advance the rules for your accommodation.
Homosexuality is illegal in Oman, as is discussing the many rumours about the Sultan’s private life. It is not a topic of conversation in Oman and not only will you offend people, but the Royal Omani Police may take an interest in you.
Omani’s are very polite and friendly people, some of the friendliest in the world. Nonetheless, you should take care to be polite yourself and avoid things that will cause offence.
Dress conservatively, especially if you’re female. It is hot, but you’ll be far better off wearing loose fitting clothes that cover shoulders and legs. Holding hands or kissing in public is also a bit out and people do get a little offended by that one. People are going to stare at you anyway, but in Oman they’re not generally doing it to be impolite, they’re just curious. Children especially will look and if you smile and wave you’ll probably make their day.
Don’t insult Islam and during Ramadan don’t smoke, drink, or eat in public as people will perhaps not say anything but will be offended nonetheless.
Like most places in the world, whipping out a camera, binoculars or telescope near military sites, airports, government buildings or other places of significance will probably be taken the wrong way, especially by the gentleman in uniform with machine guns.
Author: Phil Sylvester
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