The pearl of Arabia, Oman is a small country set in the south of the Middle East. Surrounded by seas on many sides and covered in both desert and towering peaks, it’s known for its rich history and stunning scenery. Oman is famous for being a prehistoric human settlement, and if you are visiting it’s important to know a few facts about Oman first.
Oman is also home to an abundance of cool culture to discover, from food to music to sports to art. Here are some fun facts about Oman that you may have never heard before!
Interesting Facts About Oman
Oman is the oldest independent state in the Arab world
The ruling dynasty of Oman dates back to 1794, making it one of the oldest independent states in the Arab world. It was formerly a maritime empire. They gained independence from Portugal in 1650, a holiday that is still celebrated today.
Oman has the longest running royal family in the Middle East
The Omani Al Said family ruled Oman from 1794 until 1970. They’re one of the longest running royal families in the world. Afterwards, Sultan Qaboos Bin took over. He was also a long serving ruler, only leaving the throne when he died in 2020. The predecessor was his cousin, since sultans are commonly chosen on a hereditary basis.
Oman’s national animal is the Arabian Oryx
The national animal of Oman is the Arabian Oryx. It’s an endangered white antelope with a striking appearance, so if you travel Oman, don’t plan on seeing one as they aren’t everywhere in the country.
It’s known for its distinct back hump, long straight horns, and tufted tail. Most of the remaining population can be found within the country, as they live in the desert of the Arab Peninsula.
Oman is home to the best shipbuilders
facts about oman
The geography of Oman certainly lends itself to seaworthy citizens. But did you know that shipbuilding is one of Oman’s main sources of income?
It’s an art they have perfected over many hundreds of years and the Omani people are now globally known as the epitome of perfect ship builds and repairs.
Oman has four UNESCO World Heritage Sites
There are four main attractions in Oman of great historical significance. These UNESCO sites are the Bahla Fort, the Archaeological Sites of Bhat, Al Khutm, and Al Ayn, the incredible ancient irrigation system at Al Aflaj, and finally the forests of frankincense.
You need a license for alcohol in Oman
Oman is largely Muslim and drinking alcohol is not a very common pastime here. It’s pretty unheard of except by tourists. If planning a visit, remember to never drink alcohol in public or appear intoxicated. It is possible for tourists and visitors to buy and drink alcohol in licensed venues, such as hotels, restaurants and clubs. Breaking these strict rules can result in heavy fines or even prison.
The national beverage of Oman is coffee
Coffee is a huge part of the culture in Oman. It’s even the national beverage. In Arabic it’s called kahwa. Here it is typically mixed with cardamom and is an important part of their traditional hospitality presentation. People here drink java several times a day. Talk about being well caffeinated!
Doors in Oman are all ornamental
The architecture of Oman is quite a sight to behold. The doors, in particular, are always made with ornate and elaborate designs. Just a stroll down the street should present you with plenty of picture perfect opportunities to capture the spirit of the traditional facades in Oman.
Frankincense is native to Oman
Frankincense was once considered the most precious gift you could receive. Oman has it in abundance. It’s one of the few countries that can still grow these trees naturally.
Frankincense is such a special plant that it’s likely to be burning in almost every home in the country. You can even smell it in the streets. It’s also used in the making of many popular (and expensive) perfumes today.
There are many ancient souqs in Oman
Souqs are sprawling marketplaces that can be found throughout Oman. They are considered hubs for culture and community gathering, selling everything from crafts to food. Many are prominent for their ancient architecture as well and some are even women only. One of the oldest in the world, Muttrah Souk, can be visited here as well.
Oman is one of the biggest oil exporters
Oman is a top ranking country as far as oil exporters go. They have a vast reserve, which has long been a main component for the country’s GDP.
Mountain Dew is extremely popular in Oman
You may not be aware, but there are not a lot of Coke products in Oman. However, what’s even more shocking is that there is an intense devotion to Mountain Dew here.
Since it has a monopoly in the soda market, you can find it sold anywhere and everywhere. It even has one of the highest consumption rates of all drinks in the entire Middle East.
Oman is practically crime free
One of the coolest facts about Oman is that crime is practically non-existent! There are large numbers of immigrating Americans and Europeans here because it is considered so safe for them. Oman is also a terrorist free country, scoring almost a zero on the Global Terrorism Index.
This makes it one of the most secure countries in the world. However, it’s important to remember this is mainly due to the extremely strict justice system in place here under the intense Sharia Law.
Oman may be one of the quietest countries
Silence builds character may just be the unwritten motto of Oman. Under their strict laws excessive noise is not allowed. Even the cars are forbidden from honking. That’s some serious peace and quiet that you’ll be hard pressed to find in any other streets around the world.
Omanis are known for breeding the best horses
Arabian horses are a unique breed that are native to the Arab Peninsula, and Oman in particular. Along with being one of the oldest breeds in the world, they are one of the most coveted kinds of horse as well. They are famous for their strength and speed along with having a good natured personality that makes it easy to train them.
Oman is one of the oldest places in the world for human inhabitants
It’s believed that humans have been living in Oman for over 100,000 years. This makes it one of the oldest inhabited countries in the world!
Muslims make up 85% of the population in Oman
Muslims make up the majority of the population in Oman. The next most popular religion is Christianity at 6.5%. Oman is a member of both the Arab League and the United Nations. Their total population is around 5,000,000, according to the most recent data.
Oman is referred one of the best countries for bird watchers
In Oman, you can find birds from three separate continents, Asia, Europe, and Africa. It’s known as a well kept secret among the dedicated bird watching community for spotting the most migratory species. Also, the falcon is the national bird of Oman.
Oman is a monarchy
The Sultan of Oman is also considered the monarch. This means they have total power and control over all aspects of the country. This began under the 1996 constitution called the Basic Law of the State. Its official country name is actually the Sultanate of Oman.
English and Arabic are used on all signs
Almost every sign you see in Oman has words in Arabic and then translated into English as well. This makes it super easy to navigate for Western travelers. Arabic is the national language here.
Hotels didn’t exist in Oman until fairly recently
Up until 1970 there were no hotels in Oman at all. As tourism has grown to be quite an important industry in the country, the number of places for visitors to stay has grown. Today there are hundreds of luxury stays to choose from. The above photo is from the Shangri La.
It’s common to greet visitors with a bowl of dates in Oman
In Oman, all guests are greeted with coffee, fruit, and a big bowl of dates! Dates are also a hugely important product for agricultural exports in the country. Even in hotels, you’re likely to be served this in the lobby as a welcome.
Smoking shisha is a tradition in Oman
Omanis love some shisha. It goes by many names, like hookah, narghile, goza, and even hubble bubble. It’s a local tradition that’s very much a part of the social scene here. It’s the smoking of often flavored tobacco, sometimes mixed with sugar or fruit, through a long pipe or hose.
Oman has a different weekend
In Oman, Friday is considered a day of celebration. The weekend starts on Thursday though, and these two days are truly enjoyed by everyone. However, there is some controversial talk about moving time off to Friday and Saturday in the coming years.
Winter is considered the best time to visit Oman
In Oman the summer season is always unbearably hot. Unless you love a scorching environment, it’s best to go during the colder months. The winters offer more of a Mediterranean climate.
There’s different traditional clothing for men and women in Oman
In Oman women traditionally wear a hijab and abaya. Men will typically put on a didasha or Thawb, which is an ankle length robe. Brightly colored clothes are donned for the festive celebration of Eid.
People don’t eat pork in Oman
Pork is prohibited within Islam. Fish is super popular and farmed, traded, and exported all over the country. Other types of meat are typically consumed as well, with lots of spices of course.
The main meal of the day is lunch in Oman
Early to mid-afternoon is the main meal time in Oman. Lunch is considered the biggest and most important time to chow down. Rice, fish, meat, and a spicy tomato-based sauce tends to be the typical spread. Majboos are the most famous tasty food to eat here, and definitely a must-try.
Thousands of endangered turtles migrate to Oman
This is one of my favorite interesting facts about Oman. Green turtles are a critically endangered species and Oman is one of the few countries that has a special reserve just for them. These cute creatures migrate in the thousands to Ras Al Jinz beach each year to lay lots of eggs. Visitors can visit to watch the babies hatch and return back to the warm sea.
There are no trains in Oman
As far as public transport goes, you may be shocked to know that trains are non-existent in Oman, not even in the capital of Muscat! Cars and buses are the only way to get around, and it’s pretty easy to use either. There are actually 26 other countries in the world without trains.
Oman once fought the shortest war in history
The Anglo-Zanzibar War was fought between Oman and Britain in 1896. Fun fact, it only lasted for 40 minutes!
Telegraph Island in Oman is said to have turned people crazy
A tiny island known as Jazirat al Maqlab has become a local folklore legend in Oman for driving its inhabitants to madness. It was used for essential telegraph communication between Britain and India in the mid to late 1800s. The intense heat, isolation, and tiny size of the island eventually drove every soldier who was stationed there crazy.
Valleys and deserts make up most of the country’s landscape
The largest continuous desert in the world is partially located in Oman. It’s called Rub’ al Khali and is about 251,000 square miles in size. 82% of the landmass of the country is made up of valleys and deserts.
Oman is home to one of the largest prehistoric necropolis in the world
The tombs in Oman are some of the coolest you’re likely to see anywhere in the world. They are shaped like beehives and are located in the northern hilltops. It’s said they date back to 3000 BC.
The national symbol of Oman are crossed khanjars
Khanjars are traditional curved daggers originating in Oman. They are small, can be made from a variety of metals, are used in many local ceremonies, and are considered a sign of bravery. The image of two khanjars crossing is used on the flag of the country and in many government symbols as well. Buying one makes for a great souvenir from Oman.
We hope you enjoyed these fun facts about Oman! See below for more facts around the world!
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