Thursday, November 30, 2023

Driving in Oman: what you have to know

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Let’s get straight to the purpose: when you’re considering of visiting Oman we’d advocate hiring a automobile to totally immerse yourselves on this unimaginable nation. However what’s driving in Oman like? On this put up I’m sharing what you have to know primarily based on our expertise dwelling right here.

*This put up incorporates affiliate hyperlinks*

Photo of the view of Jabal Akhdar mountain through the full windscreen of our car. In the foreground you can see the dash board and steering wheel

Throughout our first six months in Oman we drove within the cities, on rural highways, within the Hajar Mountains and within the desert.

We accomplished a seven day highway journey, drove from Muscat to Barr Al Hickman throughout salt flats and travelled Oman’s roads after tropical downpours and in the course of the 50°C warmth waves.

Even in any case this I’d not name us specialists. We’ve travelled with pals and guides when going off highway and would advise different folks to do the identical.

We even have a lot extra locations to see and issues to do in Oman. However when you’re right here for per week or two this put up gives you perception into the foundations of the highway and what to anticipate.

Need assistance planning different elements of your journey?

Learn my Oman journey information.

Is driving in Oman simple? 

After we moved to Oman we had been warned that driving right here will be difficult. As UK drivers there’s not simply the swap from the left facet to the suitable facet of the highway to contemplate.

Picture of the Old Town Gates of Muscat taken from the front seat of our car as we drive towards them
The Gates to the Previous Metropolis of Muscat

Till 40 years in the past there have been only a few roads in Oman, so they’re largely in good situation. However speedy improvement of the highway community means among the layouts are spaghetti-like, notably junctions alongside the city highways.

Most highway indicators are in Arabic and English so are simple to learn. However anticipate the spelling of place names to differ between your map app/SAT NAV and indicators. 

Photo from front seat of car while towards road signs written in English and Arabic

Typically the identical place will be spelt otherwise on indicators at a number of factors alongside the identical highway.

For navigation we’ve discovered Waze to be the very best app. However you’ll need a value efficient knowledge roaming package deal or an area SIM card. You may decide up a SIM from the Omantel kiosk simply after safety in Muscat Worldwide Airport.

For those who favor to be off grid, you possibly can obtain Google Maps however we’ve discovered even the reside model isn’t that up-to-date. 

High tip: Remember that in automobile cell phone holders are unlawful, even if you’re utilizing your telephone for navigation. You’ll want an excellent navigator within the entrance passenger seat that can assist you route discover.

Is driving in Oman protected?

There are strict highway security guidelines in Oman and the variety of accidents on Oman’s roads has been lowering in response to authorities statistics

Nevertheless, 434 folks had been killed in collisions right here in 2021 in comparison with 1,558 within the UK in the identical yr. The inhabitants of Oman is lower than seven p.c of the UK’s, so there’s clearly further danger to driving in Oman.

From our expertise driving right here day-after-day, we’ve discovered the Omani driving model will be erratic.

Anticipate different drivers to manoeuvre with out indicating. Automobiles will pull over on the facet of the freeway after which rejoin the carriageway with out checking their mirrors.

Tailgating is widespread, as is endeavor and cell phone use whereas driving. All these items have been made unlawful in recent times however in observe they nonetheless occur.

One thing you’re extraordinarily unlikely to see is highway rage. Omani’s solely honk their horns in excessive circumstances (it’s additionally unlawful to honk with out good purpose). So, maintain calm and maintain your wits about you.

Hiring a automobile in Oman

Except you’re a household on a sluggish journey journey you’re most likely restricted for time. That is why we advocate hiring a automobile if you’re visiting Oman with children.

This gives you extra freedom and permit you to not be tied to timetables. You’ll additionally have the ability to see extra of the nation and possibly even expertise wild tenting.

Our car parked on the sand at Barr al Hickman next to our green and grey gazebo

You may rent autos of all sizes from Europcar, Enterprise, Greenback, Price range and Alamo at Muscat Worldwide Airport and Salalah Worldwide Airport.

To rent a automobile you’ll want your UK or residence nation drivers license, your passport, a bank card and your Oman Visa. 

A photo taken out the window of out car of the mountain road down towards Wadi Damm in the Hajar Mountains

If you’re headed to the mountains you’ll need a 4×4, even when you don’t intend to go off highway. The principle mountain roads are steep and windy, and there are police verify factors on the backside. They cease you to ensure your automobile is match for the journey.

Rent vehicles received’t essentially include sat nav, so be sure you have another means to navigate whether or not that’s a paper map or a navigation app. However don’t neglect that cell phone holders are unlawful.

Evaluate automobile rent costs*

Are you able to drive in Oman with a UK license?

Sure. As a vacationer you possibly can drive in Oman for as much as three months in your UK license – that’s greater than sufficient for a seven or 10 day highway journey. You don’t require an Worldwide driving license for Oman.

For those who’re travelling from one other nation verify the necessities together with your International Workplace.

Pace limits in Oman

Dashing is the primary reason behind accidents in Oman so that you’ll discover a number of mechanisms in place to discourage drivers from being too heavy with their proper foot.

All vehicles are fitted with an alarm that can beep at you when you go over the utmost nationwide velocity restrict of 120 kmph. That is the restrict on main highways.

On city roads the restrict is normally 50 kmph. 

There are a great deal of velocity cameras on the freeway and visitors gentle cameras on smaller roads.

Nevertheless, there’s solely minor penalties for rushing. Get caught and the tremendous is 20 OMR.

Visitors lights

The visitors gentle sequence in Oman is barely completely different to the UK. When the lights are inexperienced they are going to flash inexperienced earlier than going to amber after which crimson. Don’t be tempted to squeeze by on a flashing inexperienced gentle. As they alter in a short time.

When stopped at visitors lights the sequence will go from crimson to amber to inexperienced as you would possibly anticipate within the UK. Once more, don’t transfer off till the lights go inexperienced.

The timing of the visitors lights may also differ relying on the time of day and weight of visitors.

On massive roundabouts you may even see the visitors lights flashing amber. Which means the roundabout is just not being managed by the visitors lights at the moment. These are usually roundabouts that get busy throughout rush hour.

Driving by a crimson visitors gentle carries a penalty of as much as 500 OMR and as much as a yr in jail. There are cameras at nearly each set of visitors lights.

Stealth velocity bumps

Pace bumps are widespread on smaller roads and so they can creep up on you with out warning.

They’ll differ in dimension and there are hardly ever indicators to warn you about them. Usually the yellow stripes are utterly warn away making them very laborious to identify.

For those who’re actually fortunate you would possibly even come throughout double bumps.

So, maintain your eyes peeled.

Little one automobile seats in Oman

For those who’re visiting Oman with children below the age of 4 it’s a authorized requirement for them to have a automobile seat in personal and employed vehicles in addition to taxis. 

If you’re hiring a automobile you possibly can verify with the rental firm whether or not they can provide a seat.

Nevertheless I’d strongly advise you to convey your personal, particularly for kids over the age of 4. As these should not a authorized requirement in Oman they aren’t extensively obtainable for older youngsters.

Airways will let you convey a automobile seat per youngster for no extra cost. Purchase a automobile seat bag for some further safety. 

We will advocate the Roam and Rove automobile seat bag*. It has ruck sack model shoulder straps so you possibly can carry your seat palms free on the airport.

Going off highway in Oman

Mr Tin Box letting air out of the rear tyre of our Pajaro 4x4 on the salt flats before Barr al Hickman

For those who fancy an off highway journey in Oman it’s finest to organise these with a information or tour firm.

We booked a information to go off highway throughout the salt marshes to camp on the white sands of Barr Al Hickman.

You might end up in a dangerous state of affairs going off highway and getting caught within the desert or mountains. You may also discover your automobile rent firm prohibits you from off roading.

Goats, camels and pedestrians

Goats laying and standing in-between two cars parked under a bridge at Wadi Shab in Oman

You’ll discover all of them on Oman’s roads – the camels and goats extra so exterior the cities. The goats are a daily function at Wadi Shab.

In Muscat it’s widespread for pedestrians to cross roads in harmful locations, even six lane highways, moderately than stroll to the closest underpass or foot bridge. Be careful for them dodging between visitors.


There’s a number of free parking in Oman. You received’t be charged at vacationer websites or within the buying malls. 

Parking in business areas like Muttrah Corniche is free on Fridays and Saturdays however not within the working week, so maintain a watch out for indicators. You’ll have to pay by telephone.

Gasoline costs in Oman

Let’s finish on a optimistic! Gasoline is less expensive in Oman than exterior the Center East. 

On the time of penning this information a litre of petrol was 0.229 OMR, which works out at about 46p per litre.

Gasoline costs don’t differ between petrol stations so there’s no want to buy round.

This makes hiring a automobile in Oman a value efficient approach to see the nation.

Petrol stations are nicely signal posted and have pump attendants.

Closing ideas on driving in Oman

Mr Tin Box looking out the drivers side window at a camel laid down beside the road in Wahiba Desert

‘Defensive driving’ is a phrase usually used about driving in Oman. And I feel so long as you retain that in thoughts you’ll be tremendous.

The problem is value it for the liberty it provides you to discover a rustic that in any other case has fairly restricted public transport. The landscapes you’ll see alongside the best way are unimaginable.

For route inspiration check out our Oman highway journey itinerary.

For those who’d like to search out out extra about holidaying on this a part of the Center East take a look at my Oman journey information. It contains tips about visiting with your loved ones, what to pack and locations to go to together with the very best wadis in Oman and Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.

Disclosure: this put up incorporates affiliate hyperlinks marked with *. For those who click on on certainly one of these hyperlinks and make a purchase order I could earn some fee. This doesn’t have an effect on the value you pay.

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