Climate Advisory in Oman

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Oman is a hot country, a very hot one! Between the end of April and the beginning of November daily high temperatures average around 38 C or 100 F. Today, 8 May 2001, the high was 45 C (113F), and temperatures or 48 or 49 (about 120F) are not uncommon. Happily, however, when it is this hot, there is very little humidity, so you can deal with the heat. Unfortunately, in June, the temp often drops to around 38 or 40C (100 - 104F) and the humidity soars to as high as 95%. That is when coastal Oman is truly unbearable. Of course, everything is air-conditioned, so as long as you're inside, everything's fine.


There is nothing like an Omani "winter." From the middle of November until middle of March or so, the climate here is nothing short of superb. Along the coast, the highs are generally in the low 20's C (low 70's F) and the lows virtually never go below 13 C (55 F). Once during the past 13 years in Oman I saw 9 C (48 F). That was the absolute coldest. Daytime is usually bright and sunny with a few scattered clouds; nighttime it's generally clear with a light breeze blowing. In a word, it's ideal. And clearly, this is the time to visit.


Oman gets precious little. In the past 12 months, it's only rained once, for example. However, when it does decide to rain, a strong 45-minute's or hour's shower will cause flooding. Since there is virtually no vegetation on the mountainsides, it all runs off. In no time, wadis or dry riverbeds will be running at an amazingly fast clip. If you're driving across one -- or worse, camping in one -- and happen to be caught in the torrent, you can be in big trouble. It is not uncommon for 4x4s and whole campsites to be washed away.


Men and Women

In the Gulf, there are two fabrics that rule: Cotton and Linen. Don't even consider bringing polyesters here; they are simply too hot. Cotton-poly blends with less than 30% polyester are okay, but otherwise you'll pay a high price. I'd also recommend light colors. And if you're planning to go up in the mountains in the winter, then a light sweater (jumper) and/or a jacket -- preferably leather to stop the wind -- should be considered.


However much you may want to wear shorts or dresses with spaghetti-string shoulder straps, don't! Culturally, these are not on. That said, light-weight cotton trouser-top outfits (e.g., Indian/Pakistani kameez/shalwar) are fine -- and just as comfortable. If you're staying in a five-star hotel, then a bikini is permissible; otherwise, it's one-piece bathing suit only on the beaches. Again, if you're staying at a 5-star facility, you might want something a bit dressy


Bermuda shorts are just acceptable, although I wouldn't wear them in villages in the Interior. Otherwise, tropical weight cottons or wools are the thing. In winter, Levi's are fine; they're too hot in the summer. T-shirts are perfectly acceptable, of course, as are half-sleeve shirts. If you're staying in a five-star hotel, a sports jacket and a tie might be good, although they are never required here. The only men you see wearing suits, white shirts, and ties are Indian businessmen, who are by nature a pretty formal group. Westerners almost always opt for the most comfortable items they have in their closets.

My favorite trouser choice is a pair of "convertible" hiking pants with zippers so that the legs can be removed. This way, I can drive or hike in shorts, but put my legs back on when I come into a town or any public area where I think I should be more "properly" dressed.

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