Interesting, funny and quirky facts about Oman.
1. No Coca – Cola
There are almost NO Coca-Cola Company products while Pepsi is widely sold. It was very weird but I loved it. Coca-Cola was nowhere to be found. I have heard that in big luxurious hotels it is not a problem but not coffee shops and bazaars.
I spoke with many Omani about this, and majority of them didn’t pay that much attention to “this issue” as they seems to love Mountain Dew up to the point of total addiction. They called it ‘Omani Alcohol’! That is why Pepsi company is preferred I guess. It was not a problem, I’m not a big fan of fizzy drinks anyway, but as you all know I’m a bit strange and love everything which is slightly surreal.
2. Liquor licence Issue
One needs a liquor licence issued by the police to be able to buy alcohol in Oman. The permit’s value is determined by one’s earnings. It is usually 10% of the basic salary. How do I know that? No, I’m not officially registered in Oman, simply I went for diving trip to Daymaniyat Islands with German and American Boys working and living in Muscat.
They old me that a proper Polish party could easily blow an amount permitted monthly! Oh, well, I know we can drink back at my home country but it is good to see it from a different perspective! Looking for all the dramas and accidents cause by alcohol in Poland maybe it is not such a bad perspective!
3. Coffee + dates
Coffee is superb in Oman and it is always served with dates. The little cups are never full. Traditionally Omani drink coffee in a thousand little sips, each served separately.
It takes a lot of time. But that is the whole point of their amazing hospitality. To please guests with conversations while sipping delicious freshly made coffee with some of the best dry dates I have ever had in my life!
I have actually written about Arabic customs of drinking coffee for the Coffee Shop Blog.
4. Weekend = Friday + Thursday
Oman still has its weekend on Thursday and Friday. Friday is the Muslim holy day when Jumu’ah prayers take place. It will be changed to Friday and Saturday very soon, as well by Saudi leaving only Afghanistan to adhere to this weekend scheme.
5. Woman – only souq
Oman is the only country to have a women-only souq. It takes place every Wednesday in the city of Ibra. It is the most colourful souk of Arabia. Men are forbidden to even stick around. Women traders sells everything from spices to jewellery and fabrics to women buyers.
6. Doors to Heaven
The country is famous for its ornamented doors. Doors in Oman are unique, colourful and embroidered. And no matter what the whole house looks like, even a simple house has truly stunning doors. As you may know from my Pinterest I’m a bit obsessed with taking pictures of doors, so it was little heaven for me! This is my OCD kicking in, I like series!
7. Oldest Independent Arab State
Oman is the oldest independent state in the Arab world. It has been ruled by the Al-Said family since 1744. It is true that most of the country’s citizens gained voting rights only in November of 2002 but Oman has a very interesting Foreign Policy which makes has changed an isolated and unstable Oman into a leader in Middle Eastern and global diplomacy.
I must admit I have been highly impressed with Omani people, they are truly hospitable, but as well super nice, polite, open to discussion on every subject even controversial ones. When I was visiting Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, I have been invited for coffee by truly interesting woman for coffee and conversation. It was refreshing to hear her opinions on her own country which she loved.
8. Frankincense Trees
In Oman, frankincense trees only grow in the wild. Frankincense trees are facing an uncertain future worldwide. It is said that in the next 15 years production of the fragrant resin could decline by half.
Used extensively in religious rituals and in the perfume industry. Been investigated for its medicinal properties. It is becoming a very precious and demanded feedstock. Very special tree for Omani, is not a mere tree for them rather an embodiment of culture, history, sociology and geography.
9. Arab Horses Land
Oman is traditionally known for breeding Arab horses. Historically it has been famous for its purebred Arab horses. Omani people believe that the horse is an image of its master and a reflection of his courage, stamina and ability.
Zaad AL-Rakeb was the first horse in Arabia and to which all the Arab progeny horses were tracked back. It belonged to the Uzd, the old members of the Arab Uzd tribe of Oman.
10. Open for tourists!
Officially Oman was open to expensive package tours and business travellers only and its allowed tourists to enter its territory freely only starting in 1987 when Omani government decided to eased visa restrictions.
Up to 1970 there were no hotels in the country at all! These days they have some of the most amazing resorts to host you. It is really worth a visit, so pack and go before all the others will. Especially if you are such a desert lover as I’m!