As a port city, Muscat is dependent on trade for its economic stability. The city has traditionally exported products like dates, mother of pearl, and fish. Today, the main port of Mina Sultan Qaboos is a hub of trading between Oman and the Persian Gulf, India, and the Far East. The discovery of large oil reserves in the 1960s has had a tremendous impact on the economies of both Muscat and Oman. The oil industry is the second largest employer in the country, and the country produces 720,000 barrels of oil per day.
The economy is multifaceted, and oil is not the only component. There are several trading companies in Muscat that partner with major corporations from throughout the world, such as Toshiba, Subaru, Hewlett Packard, GM, Toyota, Hertz, Rent-a-Car, Mitsubishi, and Chrysler. Tourism, too, plays a role in the economy. Muscat is becoming a premier vacation and resort destination for travelers all over the world, and millions come to the city, contributing to its overall economic health.
Oman's Local Customs
Muscat, Oman has a largely devout population, and so the customs will be quite different than many Western visitors are used to. For instance, it is considered very rude to point with your feet. When you are seated, the soles of your feet should not be facing anyone. When you accept anything, especially food, do so with your right hand. In this culture, and many others throughout the Middle East, the left hand is associated with unclean behaviors. Dietary restrictions are observed throughout the city (for example, meat must be slaughtered a certain way, and all pork is forbidden), and Muslims pray five times each day at prescribed times.
When meeting with business associates, expect to do a lot of socializing before and after meals. Do not bring alcohol as a gift because Muslims eschew alcohol. Long periods of silence are normal, and you should not take them to be a bad sign. Further, foreign men should avoid looking Omani women in the eye, as it can be seen as rude. The Omanis have a more circuitous method of communication, and saving face and pride are very much a priority. If you do make a faux pas, apologize. Chances are your hosts or business associates will be more than forgiving as long as you attempt to honor their traditions and customs. A little consideration, preparation, and knowledge of Omani customs will go a long way in helping you avoid embarrassing or rude slips of etiquette.
Muscat Dress Code
Muscat is a very conservative area and deeply committed to their Islamic faith. Most men in Oman wear Dishdashas and women were Abayas, both traditional forms of dress. While Western business people do not have to adopt this style of dress, they should dress respectfully in business attire. Women should take care to cover their shoulders and legs and wear clothing that is neither too revealing nor too tight. Of course, it is your prerogative, but out of respect for this wonderful nation, it helps to dress accordingly. (And despite the number of tourists visiting Muscat, there have been women who have been assaulted or accosted because of their dress – or the perception of their dress).
Greeting Someone in Muscat and Oman
Greeting depend largely on the gender of the person you are meeting. Men typically greet men by saying, “As-salaa, aleikum” (peace be upon you), and the response is “Wa’aleikum as-salamma” (and on peace be you). This may either be accompanied by a light handshake (not firm, as in Western nations), or a kiss on the hose or both cheeks. You may also place your right hand on your heart after shaking hands. Women greet other women in a similar way, usually shaking hands or kissing on both cheeks. Men greet women with words only. Usually no physical contact is made. Women may offer their hand, but it will be covered with their sleeve. If you are a man meeting a woman, wait for her to extend her hand. If she does, take it. If not, a small bow is perfectly respectful. In this deeply religious city, women should avoid making eye contact with new male acquaintances.
Business Hours and Banking
Remember that in Oman, the weekend is Thursday and Friday. Many businesses will be closed both days, or will close early on Thursday and remain closed Friday. Banks are usually open throughout the week – Saturday through Thursday from 8:00am to 1:00pm. Other Muscat businesses are usually open by 8:00am and close for lunch and break at 1:00pm. They reopen at 4:00pm until 7:00pm. Thursdays are usually short days, with businesses closing at 1:00pm. During the month of Ramadan, business hours are shorter.
Muscat prohibits smoking in most public places. If you are unsure whether you can smoke or not, look for signs. Smoking areas are usually designated by signs. In general, if you do not see other smokers, it is not appropriate to light up. Do not smoke in front of nonsmokers, especially children.
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PO Box 1998,Postal Code 114,Muttrah,Sultanate of Oman
Recently refurbished, this superb hotel enjoys a lovely beachside location on the edge of the delightful city of Muscat. Although it is conveniently close to the financial and business district, the hotel is an oasis of charm with stunning views of Al Bustan Bay. French,...
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P.O. BOX 1455,MUSCAT,112 OMAN
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Exhibition Street, PC111, Muscat
The Golden Tulip Seeb Muscat Oman is just 1.5 km. from the Seeb International Airport and adjacent to the Oman International Exhibition Centre. Ideally located for all interior tours.All residents have access to private beach facilities, which is just across the road,... more