When visiting Oman, it is important be aware of the Oman dress code, and respect the culture and traditions of the country. A trip to Oman is unique due to the friendly culture, the endless dessert terrain, and the well developed and safe roads. Read this article to find what dress code you should conform to for the best experience and what you should pack for your trip to Oman.
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Background of Oman Dress Code
Oman is a Muslim country in the Middle East, where traditions and values are reflected in the way men and women dress. The dress code for both genders is very conservative and might seem a little bewildering at first. However, the large employment migration from countries like India and Bangladesh as well as the inflow of Western expats bring a balanced mix into the overall appearance of people on the streets.
Omani people are very friendly and accepting, and you won’t feel uncomfortable at all if you comply to a number of simple rules in your attire.
What is the Oman dress code?
The Omani way of dressing is Muslim conservative. The national Omani dress for men is an ankle-length collarless robe with long long sleeves, called a dishdasha, and a little hat that usually comes in white and has a variety of beautiful embroidery. Omani women traditionally wear a long often black sirwal and headscarf (hijab).
The hijab is often showing only their face or sometimes only their eyes. Tradition is largely contributing to the way of dressing as opposed to religion. The religious texts suggest merely a decent dress code.
We had an interesting Q&A in the Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat about this topic over tea and dates. We recommend you to take the opportunity to ask any questions you might have about Oman, its history, and religious traditions at the Information centre during your visit at the Grand Mosque.
Although the Omani attire might feel like creating an invisible wall between you and the local people, please know that it is more than anything else a cultural asset of the country they are still preserving and both men and women will meet you in a friendly and curious way.
In fact, you will see that many of the Indian people living in Oman will dress in their Indian traditional clothing. We found that regardless of whether the dress code of a certain country may be very different to the way we dress in the Western world, it is wonderful to see how some countries succeed in maintaining traditions that are long forgotten in our part of the world.
We even had the chance to try on traditional Omani Bedouin clothing during our visit in the Sharquiya desert and learn traditional dancing as well as about life in the desert. We had such a wonderful experience at our desert camp that we would highly recommend the Wahibi Bedouin Camp Resort if you are looking for an authentic and affordable camp site for your own visit in the Omani desert.
Some basic rules to have the most comfortable experience
We have seen female tourists in spaghetti tops and mini skirts roaming the traditional Souq in Muscat. Most of the time nobody will say anything, but people might feel very offended. In the Western world we are used to a very liberal dress code. Especially in Amsterdam, everyone can express themselves freely in their style without anybody judging or looking strange. The crazier, the more points for style!
This is a total contrast to Oman where people are very traditional and conservative in their clothing. The fact that most Omani people won’t speak up against you freely does not make it automatically okay and our opinion is that whenever you are in a foreign country, you should try to comply as much as possible with the norms and habits of the place. It’s not much different to the Western debate of tanning bra-less. You usually wouldn’t say anything against it, but you might feel uncomfortable and find the behaviour disrespectful, if you are not used to it.
Okay, so you’re eager to pack that suitcase or backpack and wonder what is appropriate to take with you. Let’s move on some tips from us, which we noted down based on our experience when visiting Oman.
Dress code for the daily sight seeing stroll
Our recommendation is a Third and long pants or shorts.
- The T-shirt should be covering your shoulders, no tank tops.
- Long trousers are preferred but shorts are okay for men. Most of the people you will see on the streets will wear long pants and if you have some light or linen pants they will be super useful in the hot weather. However, shorts are usually accepted.
Our recommendation is to bring long clothing that does not display too much skin.
- Always keep your shoulders covered. This means no strapless shirt or dress and no spaghetti or thin straps.
- Skirt or pants that are at least knee length. Long skirts and dresses are perfect! Not only are they super stylish at the moment, but they perfectly comply with the dress code as well as protect you from the strong sun.
Dress code for visiting Mosques
- T-shirt covering shoulders
- Long pants. Shorts are not permitted.
- Shirt with long sleeves until wrists
- Long pants or skirt covering ankles
- Head scarf to hide the hair
- You might want to bring socks just in case if guards ask you to cover your ankles
Dress code for beaches & pools – swim wear
Swim shorts are usually totally fine. In some places you will see signs asking men to cover their upper body and swim in a T-shirt, for example at Wadi Bani Khalid. However, we were told by locals there that swimming topless is typically accepted for guys.
The accepted swim attire for women varies strongly by the place you are visiting. To be safe, you should always be prepared to swim in a T-shirt and shorts (ideally until your knees, no hot pants). However, many touristic places like the Bimmah sinkhole or Wadi Shab are less strict. You will see many women swimming in their regular bathing suits and bikinis, no problem!
Tip: If you plan to visit Wadis, bring proper shoes!
If you’re visiting Wadis and the Bimmah sinkhole, it is advisable to bring water shoes or trekking sandals. You will have to walk on stony terrain to get to the Wadi and you’ll need to enter the water through rocks and stones.
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