About Oman

Capital: Muscat

Government: Monarchy with a provisional legislature (the Majlis Ash Shura)

Head of State: His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said

Major industries: Oil, natural gas, agriculture, and fishing

Ruling body: His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said is Head of State and rules by decree. He is assisted by a cabinet of ministers, Diwan of the Royal Court (the central body of bureaucratic affairs), and the Majlis Ash Shura, a body of representatives elected by the populace.

Population: Approximately 2.5 million. Around 1.5 million are Omani nationals. The remaining are expatriates from India, Asia, other Arab countries, Europe and USA.

Area: The Sultanate encompasses an area of 300,000 sq kms.

Airport: Seeb international airport, 40 km from Muscat city centre.

Seeb International Airport, located in Muscat, serves many international airlines such as British Airways, KLM, Kuwait Airways, Swiss Air and Emirates. The national carrier is Oman Air, which flies to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), India, Pakistan, Qatar, Egypt, and Sri Lanka as well as performing domestic flights to Salalah, Masirah Island and Musandam.

Climate: The country's climate is predominantly arid and varies slightly from one region to another. In the coastal areas, the weather is hot and humid during the summer months, while it is dry elsewhere in the interior. Milder weather dominates the mountains and Dhofar region all the year round. Winter temperatures can be as low as 15°Celsius and summer temperatures can be as high as 48° Celsius in Muscat and as high as 54° in the desert.

Dhofar, located in the southernv region of the country however, enjoys a regular monsoon between June and October, every year.

Best Time to visit : The best time of the year to visit Oman is between October and April, when the weather is pleasantly warm in the day and cool in the evening. Temperature averages at 25-35 degrees centigrade during the day and dips to 17-19 degrees centigrade at night.

Religion: Islam, predomina

Culture: Like all the Arab countries, Arab Islamic Culture dominates the life style in the Sultanate. However, being an international market, people of various other nationalities are also present.

National Dress: Men - dishdasha (robe),Kimah (cap),mussar (turban)

Women - jallabia (dress), sirwall (trousers), thobe (overdress cloak, lahaf (head shawl), abaya (black cloak). Women generally leave their face and hands exposed, while in the desert, women of the Bedouin tribes wear a mask, called a "birqa."

Working Hours:

Ministries and government establishments - 7:30 am to 2:30 pm (Sat-Wed, week-end is Thursday and Friday)

Private sector companies - 8:00am to 1:00pm; 4:00pm to 7:00pm (Saturday-Wednesday)
8:00am to 1:00pm on Thursdays.

Markets: 8:00am to 1:00pm, 4:00pm to 9:00pm.

Banks: 8:00 am to 12 noon.

Timings differ during Ramadân.

Ramadân, the holy month of fasting, is the ninth month on the Arabic calendar which is a lunar calendar. Every year Ramadân shifts back about ten days on the western solar calendar. In the year 2001 Ramadân will begin in the third week of November. Restaurants and other eateries are closed during daylight hours during the Holy Ramadân period.

Shopping hours:

Shopping establishments are open from 9am to 1 pm and 4pm to 9 pm. Department stores, supermarkets and shopping complexes are open throughout the day during Ramadân from 9am to 10 pm, with a short lunch break all through the week, except Fridays. These timings could vary with different shops.