- Official Name: Sultanate of Oman
- Capital: Muscat
- Official Languages: Arabic
- Population: 5 million
- Currency: Omani Rial
- The Sultanate of Oman is located on the Southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.
- It shares land borders with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and marine borders with Iran and Pakistan.
- Oman’s capital city was historically the principal trading port of the Persian Gulf region, and among the most important trading ports of the Indian Ocean.
- Government: Unitary Parliamentary Absolute Monarchy
- All legislative, executive and judiciary power rests with the hereditary Sultan.
- Oman’s constitution names Sharia law as a source of legislation.
- The Omani Sultanate was a powerful empire, and contended with Portugal and the UK for influence in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean in the 17th, 18, and 19th centuries.
- As its power declined in the 20th century, the Omani Sultanate’s centuries-long relationship with the UK transformed from one based on mutual benefit, to de facto colonization, which lasted through 1967.
- Oman was one of the last countries to abolish slavery in 1970.
- Oman has one of the most diverse environments in the Middle East, with desert plains in the center, and tropical mountain ranges along the north and southeast coasts.
- Oman’s rich musical tradition stems from the country’s coastal location and imperial legacy.
- There are over 130 different forms of traditional Omani songs and dances; the Oman Centre for Traditional Music was established in 1984 to preserve them.
- In contrast to many Arab countries, all Omanis participate in music: men, women, young and old.
- The overwhelming majority of Omanis profess Islam; most of whom are Ibadi, followed by Shia and Sunni.
- Non-Muslim religious communities include Christians, Hindus, Buiddhists, Jews, Sikhs, Jains, and Zoroastrians.
- Oman’s population is very young, with 43% of inhabitants under the age of 15.
- Nearly half of the population lives in the capital city of Muscat and the Batinah coastal plain northwest of the city.
- Omanis can trace their roots to Baloch (the region on the southeastern edge of the Iranian plateau in Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan), Al-Lawatia (ethno-cultural group based on the coasts of Oman), Persia, and Zanzibar (Omani rule lasted here 1698-1890).
- Omani society is largely tribal, with three major identities: tribe, Ibadi faith, and maritime trade. The third identity is often in tension with the more traditional, insular identities of the interior of the country.
- The tribal and Ibadi identities are traditional and especially prevalent in the interior of the country, which has experienced lengthy periods of isolation due to British influence and control of the coast.
- The maritime trading identity is tied to the capital city of Muscat and coastal areas, and is reflected by the area’s business, trade, and generally higher levels
- The main meal of the day is in early to mid-afternoon. Morning and evening meals are generally very light.
- Omani culture operates in a hierarchy based on family connections (tribal ties), relative wealth, and religious education.
- For Omani nationals, dress is a highly visible and prominent marker of ethnic identity.
- Head covering is required of men as well as women.
- Gender roles are subject to the formal restrictions of Islam, but are more equal than elsewhere in the Islamic world: Omani women have significant authority within the family unit, and in the 1990s Oman started making efforts to include women in government.
- Men and women may interact in public, though their contact should always be chaperoned or in the open.
- Upon meeting new people, greetings must be exchanged before discussion; to fail to do so is considered rude.
- “Assalam alaikum” (peace be upon you) and replied with “Wa alaikum as-salam” (and upon you peace)
Business Communication & Relationships
- Dress for business meetings should be smart and conservative (especially for women).
- Handshakes are the accepted greeting between men, and it is customary to shake the most senior person first.
- Use Arabic titles when possible and appropriate, as this shows respect.
- Business cards are often exchanged when meeting new associates for the first time; ensure they are double sided (English & Arabic) and present the card with both hands. Read business cards prior to putting them away.
- Oman’s official language is Arabic, though English is widely spoken in business.
- Hours of business are generally 8a-1p, and 3:30-6:30p Sunday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday is the weekend.
- While Oman remains an Islamic nation, it is one of the most progressive of the Gulf countries when it comes to attitudes toward women in the workplace. Authorities are trying to limit the number of roles given to expat women and work visas for women can be hard to obtain. Those who do get a job in Oman should find themselves respected and valued.
- A great deal of time will be devoted to getting to know each other before any actual business is discussed. Getting impatient is ill-advised: long-term, personal business relationships in Oman are worth the investment of time and energy.
- Hard-sell tactics will be interpreted as aggression, and should thus be avoided.