Muscat: The British Embassy in Oman has issued a travel advisory to their citizens who are wishing to visit the Sultanate.
The officials at the Embassy made it clear to their citizens about the laws and customs followed in Oman, and pointed that they are very different to those in the UK.
“Oman is an Islamic country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas."
“During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. Eating, drinking, smoking, playing loud music and dancing in public places during daylight hours of Ramadan is strictly forbidden and punishable by law, including for non-Muslims. In 2020, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start around 24 April and finish on 23 May,” the advisory said.
It continued by saying that women should dress modestly in public areas like shopping malls.
“You should not wear swimming attire in public areas, except on tourist beaches or at swimming pools. Women wearing shorts, or tight-fitting clothes, are likely to attract attention. Cross-dressing is illegal,” the statement added.
They also pointed out that import and use of E-cigarettes are illegal in Oman.
The officials of the British Embassy in Oman also notified their citizens that swearing and making rude gestures (including while driving or on social media) are considered obscene acts.
“Public displays of affection are frowned upon and may get you into trouble with the police,” they added.
In terms of taking pictures in/of the public places, the advisory issued said that: “Photography of certain government buildings and military sites isn’t allowed. Don’t photograph people without their permission. Hobbies like bird watching and plane spotting may be misunderstood - particularly near military sites, government buildings and airports.”
It is advised to carry a copy of your passport, or your Omani ID if you are a resident, at all times for identification and keep the original document in a safe place, according to the statement.
“Financial crimes, including fraud, bouncing cheques, unpaid debt and the non-payment of bills (including hotel bills) can result in imprisonment and/or a fine. You may be prevented from leaving the country. The same goes if you are subject to a travel ban, involved in legal proceedings or are a child subject to a custody dispute.
“Foreign nationals must pay all outstanding debts and traffic fines before leaving the country. You can pay fines at the airport. If you haven’t paid fines before you leave you may experience delays or be prevented from leaving the country,” the statement read.
It also highlighted that you could be fined and/or detained if you overstay or fail to extend your legal residency. “You can be fined up to OMR10 per day up to a maximum of OMR500 for overstaying,” the statement read.
People travelling to Oman should be warned of the possession of unauthorised drugs as the country has zero tolerance for drugs-related offences.
“The penalties for trafficking, smuggling and possession, of even residual amounts, of drugs are severe. In some cases, the death penalty could apply. There is no distinction in Omani law between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ drugs; both are treated with equal severity,” the statement said.
They added, “Importing drugs and pornography into Oman is illegal and can lead to imprisonment. Flying drones or remote-controlled flying devices without a valid licence are against the law.”