The people in Oman are some of the friendliest you will ever meet, but keep in mind that respecting their culture is so important.
18 July 2013| Last updated on 11 December 2017
Omani people come from a long line of tribal Bedouins; the influence of the tribal culture is declining as the Omani society becomes more open and accepting of progress and westernization. However, they are still a conservative society and should be respected as one. The first impression that is usually made of the Omani people is that they are very friendly, hospitable and forthcoming. They are one of the happiest nations in the Gulf and expect the same of the tourists. Always have a smile on your face when talking to an Omani man or woman. They don’t feel as comfortable with serious faces and a smile is reassuring. They will always reciprocate with a friendly smile and a kind word.
It is customary for Omani people to be hospitable, if a person is close to you and is eating something they may offer you some of their food. They will be persistent with their offer and will offer it to you two or three times. This is considered polite in this region, so be patient and refusing all three times is not impolite. It is just the in their culture to share what they have. Omanis are very polite and formal in public. All social exchanges are started off with a greeting and often questions of good health and family before any further discussion can ensue. This is also the case with business dealings. To do otherwise would be considered rude.
In Oman, men and women may interact in public and their interactions should always be chaperoned. Even women who have been educated overseas and are seemingly independent are required to be chaperoned by a male relative at public events. It is also not advisable for men to extend their hand in greeting to an Omani woman, even in a business situation as it could cause offence. Always wait for a hand to be extended to you first. If it is not, the gesture is only left out because of cultural conciseness of the region and not to be rude. While the Omani people are some of the most polite in the world they sometimes have the habit of staring openly at westerners, but it is merely out of curiosity, unless your attire leaves little to the imagination. In that case the stares may mean that they are offended. While western woman can interact with the Omani women at any level it is considered inappropriate for such interactions to ensue between the Omani women and western men. For example if a man sees a woman adjusting her hijab over her head, he should avert his eyes immediately.
All Omanis are Muslim. There are a few families of Indian origin that are Hindu, but there are no Omanis that are Christian. However the government of the Sultanate recognizes the presence of Christian expatriates and there are churches for different denominations of the faith throughout Oman. Omanis take their religious observations seriously and carry out the prescribed five daily prayers. Many men go to nearby mosques to perform their prayers but they can be done almost anywhere. If a person is praying it is considered rude to stare or interrupt them. During Ramadan it is prohibited to eat, drink, smoke and chew gum in public, this coincides with the Muslim dawn till dusk fast.
All in all it can be said that even though they have cultural quirks that may need some getting used to, the Omani people are friendly, spontaneous and courteous and just fun to be around.