Practical Information in Muscat

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Muscat is the capital of Oman and is one of the most commercially significant cities of the Middle East. The city is a melting pot of various cultures and a vital port-town that has attracted a large expatriate community comprising of foreign traders and permanent settlers. Here is a practical information guide to help visitors know more about this Omani trade hub.

Population: According to a census conducted by the Oman Ministry of National Economy in 2003, the population of Muscat is more than 630,000, which is made up  of 370,000 males and 260,000 females. The city accounts for 27 percent of Oman’s population and has an expatriate population of 40 percent.

Currency: The currency of Oman is Omani Rial (OMR) and the current exchange rate is approximately $1=0.38633 OMR.

Languages: Arabic is the official and most widely spoken language among natives, however due to the heavy influx of immigrants, dialects like Swahili, Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam and a few other Indian languages are also commonly spoken in the region. English is also spoken in the region.

Visa Information: Tourists of several nationalities can obtain a visa on arrival in Muscat. Citizens of the UK, USA, Canada and Australia can get their visa directly upon arrival in the city. Visitors need to pay for and obtain their visa stamp prior to heading for immigration. Chinese, Russian and Ukrainian travelers can obtain the required visa on arrival only if they are visiting the country with a Muscat-based tourism company, hotel or a local family, who can vouch for their conduct. Egypt, India, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Syria nationals are permitted to enter and get the on-arrival visa only if they are making a trip with a holiday package company with pre-booked accommodation. All other nationalities need to obtain their visa prior to arriving in Muscat by submitting relevant documents to the embassies in their country of residence.

Health and Safety: There are not any specific vaccinations to be taken before visiting Muscat; however travelers should seek medical advice regarding any required or suggested inoculations. It is best to drink only bottled water although tap water is fine for cooking. There are good, international standard hospitals, pharmacies and medical facilities in the region. Crime in the city is low and Muscat is a relatively safe city.

Omani Etiquette and Law: Since Muscat is a fairly conservative Islamic region, visitors should respect the sensibilities of the locals and dress modestly according to the strictures of Islamic religious and social norms. Women should cover their arms and legs always and wear a head scarf while visiting a mosque. It is also worth noting that Muscat is a major supporter of execution for crimes like murder and drugs. Other offenses for which people can be put behind bars include-homosexual acts, obscene gestures and eve-teasing.

Muscat is a large and important port town that houses several religions and nationalities without having lost its deep-rooted Islamic culture.  
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