Muscat, Oman - Why I Hated It and Will Never Go Back

Muscat, Oman – Why I Hated It and Will Never Go Back

Last fall, I met an Omani man at my guest house in Delhi, India. When he learned I was a travel writer, he began to gush about Oman. “You must go! It is so beautiful. Muscat is gorgeous and people are so friendly.” I was sold. I added Oman to a list of Middle Eastern countries to visit this spring.

I arrived in Muscat, the capital of Oman, on a balmy March evening on the heels of visiting Dubai in the UAE. I’d thoroughly enjoyed my time in Dubai and, if reports I’d read on the Internet were any indication, I’d be even more wowed by Oman.

A walk along the Corniche passes between this rocky promontory and the giant incense burner perched on the hillside, which is a nod to Oman being the world's major producer of Frankincense

A walk along the Corniche passes between this rocky promontory and the giant incense burner perched on the producer of Frankincense

My first inkling that Oman might not be all that I hoped came a few minutes later. The driver of the taxi who met me at the airport started asking what I wanted to do in Muscat. I replied that I’d begin by taking the hop-on, hop-off Big Bus in order familiarize myself with the sprawling city. “Oh no! You don’t want to do that. It’s really expensive and you have to wait a long time between buses.” His warning was quickly followed with a sales pitch. He could show me everything I needed to see in half a day and it would cost only $65.

Clock Tower in the Central Business District of Muscat, Oman

Clock Tower in the Central Business District of Muscat, Oman

I wasn’t interested. As a photographer, I often need to wait for the right light, or for crowds to clear in order to get the best shot. As a writer, I must be able to roam at my own pace, soaking up the atmosphere, talking to locals, and musing over story angles. Being tied to a tour where I’m allowed 15 or 20 minutes at each stop simply doesn’t work. I politely declined, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. Trapped in his vehicle, I suffered the hard sell all the way to my hotel.

Entrance to the traditional Souk (market) in the Mutrah neighborhood of Muscat, Oman

Entrance to the traditional Souk (market) in the Mutrah neighborhood of Muscat, Oman

It was late and I was exhausted by the time we reached my hotel. I wanted nothing more than to fall into bed and sleep for ten hours. But my room fronted on a six-lane highway and the traffic noise was so bad I knew sleeping would be impossible. I asked for and was given a second room…which had a balcony with sliding glass doors that would not lock.

As a solo female traveler, I have a few non-negotiable rules for staying safe. One of them is never to stay in a room where the doors won’t lock. Once again, I asked for my room to be changed. The third try was even worse. The room reeked like a dead animal and there were dark brown spots on the carpet the size of dinner plates. I’m sure the Filipino staff hated me by that time, but I had to demand a fourth room, which was finally acceptable.

In Old Muscat, a mosque is framed by one of the 16th century Portuguese forts that once guarded the harbors

In Old Muscat, a mosque is framed by one of the 16th century Portuguese forts that once guarded the harbors

My experience did not improve over the next five days. I began in Old Muscat, where the only interesting sites among a sea of whitewashed buildings were the Al Alam Palace and two 16th-century Portuguese forts. None of which were open to the public. With everything closed during the midday heat, streets of the old town were deserted. The only sign of life was four Omani men wearing the traditional Omani Dishdasha, an ankle-length white caftan, and round embroidered caps known as kumma. They strolled slowly down the middle of the street, eventually disappearing into one of the brilliant white palaces. Little did I know this would be the closest I would ever get to Omani culture.

The Corniche is a 4-mile long walkway between the Mutrah area of Muscat, and Old Muscat, the original site of the city

The Corniche is a 4-mile long walkway between the Mutrah area of Muscat, and Old Muscat, the original site of the city

Dejectedly, I turned my back on Old Muscat and headed back down the 4-mile Corniche. It was a beautiful seaside walk, but as in Old Muscat, everything along the way was closed. I arrived at the Mutrah Suq just as the market was opening for the evening and ducked inside to wander its cool narrow alleyways. Like any other market in the world, merchants hawked wares ranging from gold to spice to pashmina shawls. But every single one of the shop owners was an immigrant. I met friendly Pakistanis, Filipinos, Bangladeshis, and even Nepalis. But not a single Omani was to be found.

Shop owner in the Mutrah Souk hawks his goods

Shop owner in the Mutrah Souk hawks his goods

On day two I fended off multiple pushy taxi drivers, found the Big Bus stop, and sat down to wait. The bus arrived fifteen minutes later, but I wasn’t allowed to board. A cruise ship was in town and the company was busy shuttling passengers back to the ship. When the next bus finally arrived, it did an “abbreviated” route that ignored some of the stops shown on the company’s website.

We were well past the beach by the time I realized the driver had skipped it. My only option would have been to go all the way around and wait for the next bus. By that time it was too late. Even if I took a quick stroll on the beach and grabbed a late lunch, I would miss the last bus back. And a taxi back to the hotel would set me back another 25 bucks.

The stunning Swarovski crystal chandelier in the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

The stunning Swarovski crystal chandelier in the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

My Big Bus ticket was for two days, so I set out early the next morning. I was beginning to suspect that there was little to see or do in Muscat, and the Big Bus tour quickly confirmed my worst fears. Strangely, the two most visited sites, the Muscat Opera House and the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, were not even included on the route. Unlike the hop-on, hop-off buses I’ve taken in dozens of other locations around the world, this one was a total rip-off. I did manage to see the mosque when a lovely French Canadian family at the hotel invited me to accompany them in their rental car. Good thing, too, because the taxi driver I’d hired to take me didn’t show up.

A palm-lined beach along the Corniche in Muscat, Oman

A palm-lined beach along the Corniche in Muscat, Oman

For the remainder of my time in Oman, I decided to focus on day trips outside of the capital city. I’d read about jeep tours in the surrounding Sahara-like dunes, off-roading through rugged mountain scenery, and wadis where hidden emerald pools offer opportunities for a cool dip. I tried my favorite go-to booking site, GetYourGuide, and even Viator, without success. Not only are tours in Oman extremely expensive, the minimum number of participants for any tour was two people. As a single person I would have had to pay double, even if other customers joined the same tour. The cheapest option was $250 for a half-day trip to a wadi. I just said no.

Dining along the Corniche in the Mutrah area of Muscat, Oman. The only choices are a few expensive restaurants or these "fast food" sidewalk cafes.

Dining along the Corniche in the Mutrah area of Muscat, Oman. The only choices are a few expensive restaurants or these “fast food” sidewalk cafes.

I spent my last day wandering around the Mutrah area, eating horrible fast food and trying to meet locals other than taxi drivers. The only Omanis I found were squatting on the sidewalk in front of a sand pit, playing an ancient game known as hawalis. The chess-like game involved moving a series of pebbles among four rows of holes dug in the sand. The men refused to acknowledge me and even my requests to take a photo went unanswered. Lacking denial, I snapped the photo. I stood there a while longer, trying to decipher the rules of the game, but their snub made me increasingly uncomfortable. I later learned the centuries-old game, which is just as incomprehensible as the local culture, is exclusive to Oman.

Omani men play Hawalis, a board game where stones are moved between four rows of cups dug in the sand. This version of the game is said to be exclusive to Oman

Omani men play Hawalis, a board game where stones are moved between four rows of cups dug in the sand. This version of the game is said to be exclusive to Oman

Others may wax lyrical about Oman, but the only friendly people I met were immigrants. And the countryside may indeed be beautiful, but since all the tours were exceedingly expensive, I never saw it. There is no published information about bus routes and no rapid transit. Even renting a car is problematic. My new French Canadian friends told me horror stories about getting lost in the interior on roadways completely devoid of any directional signs. Oman doesn’t have a clue how to handle tourism. Until it does, I can find lots of other places to spend my money.

Muscat, Oman – Why I Hated It and Will Never Go Back

358 Comments on “Muscat, Oman – Why I Hated It and Will Never Go Back

  1. hi
    yes, I know oman may seem not great when you first come to it. but with me, before I went I was excited until the day I actually went and still I am in here. what i didn’t like was how it was so hot and a few other things i will not talk about. but once i was younger i did go to oman however i still didnt remember until later i saw video. there are beaches which i love. i also live in sohar and i have been to muscat and it was fantastic. what i was very hapy about what the favorite popular sport was football and im very good at it. and alo the corona virus is really bad but in oman is kinda safe. but in UK where i used to live is a very harsh condition. so thats why im ok here now and if you stay in muscat more than maybe 2 weeks then you will inshallah be fine.

  2. I felt very uncomfortable reading about your experience of Oman. But I do like to apologize to you, rather than blaming you. It is quite possible for any person to get into a series of unfriendly situations within a short time in life and to make up one’s mind/attitude based on that experience of a short time. But never ever think that it is the ultimate truth. I was in Oman for one and half-decades and another one has passed since I left its shores. Just like you, I too had lots of difficulty in getting into terms with Oman and Omanis initially. But things changed for good in a very short period of time. I dont know how beautiful or picturesque is Oman since I come from a really beautiful part of this world, Kerala, India. But the people of Oman are indeed the best people on earth. They may look and behave very coarse but they are indeed very nice inside. Yes, you may not have any historical monument to link Oman to Alexander the Great or Roman empire but there are enough historical places with respect to Oman’s history and Arab Culture. I suggest the author to make one more visit, with bit more planning and in a more relaxed manner. It is very important to make contact with somebody in Oman in advance. Dont rely on taxi drivers you meet on the street and dont judge a nation by that country’s taxi drivers. Wish you had some friends in Oman to take you around, in that case you would have had a wonderful experience to cherish for your whole lifel

  3. Not going to lie, could not keep reading after the first paragraph as I felt an immense sense of negativity just from the way you write and express yourself.

    You seem to be very perplexed and mentally/emotionally confused.

    What you have described is only a reflection of yourself and not the country.

    Oman is one of the most beautiful countries there is in our modern day era.

    Get some help, and keep that negativity to yourself.

    • Im in Oman Now and she describe it very good. Maybe you should seek mental help. The only thing she forgot to write is more about there bad food and possebilety of getting food poisened.

    • Yes! Oman and its citizens are the most respectable and smiley persons in the gulf. I had worked in other gulf countries, and for my personal experience, Oman and its citizens are wonderful.
      Drivers will allow you to pass the street respectfully. God bless.

  4. This is incorrect. oman is a beautiful country and you do not see the good side of it and appreciate it like others. get a life. if you have a problem with this country keep it to yourself

  5. Sorry for the unexpected experience you have in Muscat. I was there 3 days ago, on 3 feb 2020. Let me make a short review of my visit. I was so much astonished with the city because it is different from what I expected. The city and the people are so nice.
    In short your review about Muscat, it is a narrow minded writing. The comments just reflected your personal interest.
    Honestly Oman is a wonderful place to visit.

    • Are you president or something since your sorry. Why can you do to make it more fun or nicer. Arabs here are mixed with pakkistanians and hindus.
      Strange arab contry from a lebanese Arab.

  6. lol “travel writer”. How about respecting cultures and not taking photos of people who do not want it.

  7. You wanted to go to Oman as a tourist, sorry but we aren’t quite there yet!! Before you go to a new country at least do some research which I am sure you didn’t because you did all the wrong things. There are fantastic walks, days out and various sightseeing to do, just not with tour companies! And regarding those men which wouldn’t speak to you, OMAN IS A MUSLIN COUNTRY and 40 years ago it was practically medieval a lot of men keep their space from women. You came for a holiday here and was disappointed, at least be respectful you cheapskate.

    • Am still to visit Oman for the first time but reading this article and witnessing the replies I can already tell the writer is giving a clear picture of the place and the tone of the comments confirm her write up. ishshsh !!! ???

  8. Well, oman Is one of the best countries in the WORLD
    friendly people, cleanliness, helpful people
    Looks like you wanted oman to be 100% good
    You should surely take another visit to oman or muscat

    • I just came back from 2 weeks in Oman .
      I found most of time nice hopeful people ready to help you if you need it.
      I was alone travelled busy still I saw lot of the country by taxi it costed me a little bit but I was prepared.
      I would go back anytime to visit the rest of country I didn t have time to visit.
      Love Oman and Omani people

  9. As an avid traveler, I cannot agree more with you… Oman is a horrible and unprofessional place (don’t even get me started on getting a driver’s license over there, Jesus). Those who say otherwise haven’t been to better places.

  10. The article is not about Oman, it’s all about you. Not sure who decided to label you a ‘travel writer’, but this is nothing to do with travel or the place you visited, but all about your own self entitlement.

  11. Susan Jan 2020 How sad to read some of those awful reviews I lived in Oman for 6 years I lived among Omani people always found them very helpful and the saying when in Rome you do as the Romans why should they change to suit visitors they have a very old culture and dont like having their photo taken it is not modern slavery they have contracts they get wages if they went to their own country they cant survive I learned to speak arabic I also travelled all over Oman even to the empty quarter it cannot be compared to Dubia which is in my opinion another Hong Kong I hope the Sultan of Oman does not read the terrible things said about his people and country when he bought them into the 21st century from nothing maybe you should read the history of Oman.

    • When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Maybe other cultures should try doing that while in the UK, instead of trying to change the UK, into the places they have left behind ????

  12. I’m a little confused, you’re a travel writer but based on this article or post you just seem like another entitled tourist that doesn’t understand common tourist etiquette. And why is the first third of the time you complaining about things that are not exclusive to Oman at all and can be found in every country of the world.

  13. Sorry that your experience was bad. I just finished my road trip in Oman and I have to say this is one of the best trip in my life. People are so kind and helpful. They go extra miles to help us when our car stuck in the sand. I have never experienced this anywhere.
    I hope people that find this blog scroll down to read the comments like me and others here do. It seems like more of us here have had rather pleasant experience with Oman.

    Maybe if you would shift your perspective on travelling a bit you’ll see the beauty of the place rather than comparing it to what you’ve seen somewhere else.

  14. Apparently ur problem is that the men playing chess didnt acknowledge u and didnt pose for a photo. Do u expect all men to get attracted to you and acknowledge u and do wat ever u demand. How dare u take pictures of other people without there permission, and you are judging others?. Sit in your house and never get out for touring.

    • You really didn’t read the article fully did you? Had you done so you would realise that particular part of the story was a throw away and the main ‘meat’ of the article is the fact that Oman is a country that wants & needs tourism to survive it is really the immigrants doing the work, the Omani themselves are not to be found.
      Your reaction says more about you than the author.

      • omanis are at the mall bb. if u want to see them u wont find them in old muscat lmao

      • Lisa, the article is one long moan after another from the author. ‘Your reaction says more about you than the author’ is an internet soundbite.

    • Permission? Oh the white world supremacy my lord. Which is just not so common in the midland countries, and if you didn’t read the whole article she is only stating the fact that she asked those men about the game and a photo it was on their part to behave rude to a lady tourist. Not her fault at all.

  15. I’m having a great time in Oman… so far but noticing a lot of strange behaviour.

    Agreed the taxi’s are very pushy with tours -but this is a great opportunity to negotiate what you want rather than what the tour company suggests!

    But -WARNING AS A FEMALE TRAVELLER (2 of us)!!

    I am normally a reserved dresser, love meeting new people and indulging in the local culture -avoiding the typical “fast food restaurants”. And even following recommendations -loose linens/covered shoulders and legs. However people stare at you like you’re meat -wolf whistling, calling out prices and assuming you’re a prostitute. Cars following you along the road, blocking you to stop for a chat -borerlining harrasment. I don’t take this personally, but am starting to feel this is the culture issue, as I’ve not experienced this anywhere else..

    Thankfully no one was hostile -but it was just very uncomfortable to go out at night and there were hardly any women -which makes sense now.

    Admittedly, in frustration of having almost every other car stop for some reason or another, I regrettably resulted in flipping off a driver (middle finger). I was so bored of not being able to explore the Omani nights, so we stayed in the hotel most evenings -not ideal but made full use of the day! Gosh -it felt like stepping into a time machine -not in a good way.

    Hopefully the tours arranged make up for this and I’ll forget the niggles.

    • My views have changed dramatically in a day! People are so friendly -but avoid touristy areas; where taxi’s are pushy.

      Oman is such a lovely country. The people are so helpful and friendly. I guess being from London -I was sceptical at first.. but honestly -just ignore the constant people stopping or politely mention you’re ininterested and won’t trouble you.

  16. Barbara you’re lucky they didnt arrest you for taking a picture of their precious little ‘chess’ game.

    • I agree with some other comments – the Omanis won’t miss you, I think.
      And how rude to take a photograph of people when they didn’t seem to want it!
      We are in Oman right now and we live very near that very “chess” place. The guys playing when we walked pass, and stopped, were ever so friendly, they offered us some chai, kept on playing, and agreed to be photographed when we asked if it was OK to take photos.
      We are being met with such hospitality, helpfulness and friendliness!
      As for “foreigners” – well, what do you expect when you go abroad? When I’m abroad, everybody are foreigners to me – and I’m a foreigner to everybody else. We’re all human beings – so what is your problem???

      • Your comment caught my eye. You described this perfectly in a respectful manner.
        I lived in Oman a few years with husband. We went to tourist & non tourist area. We stood out having blonde hair, fair skin & dressed the dress code. The people were so polite & kind to us.
        But I agree that so true we are all foreigners. it’s only human to stare when other people visit cities/counties. They don’t mean any harm.

        • I forgot to add very kind helpful people in the old country parts of town & in the newer parts of town. Apology & no disrespect but I don’t remember the names I visited.

        • I’m not sure if the question was for me but no I’m not a male. I’m a 23 year old Irish/German woman. Who enjoyed her stay at Oman with my husband.

  17. Based on your entitled and demanding behaviour at the hotel you stayed at, you sound impossible to please anyway. So maybe it’s more a you problem than an Oman problem, and you’re right… the staff at that hotel staff probably did hate you. I’m sure they’d be happy to hear you’re not returning.

      • Firstly, you get what you pay for in hotels.

        Secondly, the first room was probably perfectly OK. Madam was the one who decided that she would not be able to sleep because of the traffic noise, despite being “exhausted”.

        Thirdly, as Jay has pointed out, Madam also sounds impossible to please. Thank goodness she is not coming back to Oman.

    • Precisely, what I think. This lady is extremely rude, seems to be nonchalant against culture she meets and also …..spoiled.

    • Probably not, if you loved Dubai for the “shopping experience”, the glitz and the glamour. Dubai is a beautiful fantasy box, which is tremendous fun for the visitor, but I have to say that I wouldn’t want to live there.

      That having been said, you might find that Oman has different attraction. The Sultanate
      works at a slower pace than Dubai. The natural beauty of the country is one of its best features, and the towns complement that. In Dubai you are highly unlikely to meet an Emirati – even the “locals”you see in the streets are likely to be visitors from somewhere else in the Arab Gulf.

      In Oman, there are still places where a non-Omani is cause for comment. For example, only yesterday I bought some stamps at the Suwaiq post office. The young woman behind the counter was fascinated that I was doing this, and wanted to know why I, as an expatriate Brit, was conducting the transaction at her post office, and not somewhere in Muscat.

  18. And these are all reasons why I love Oman! Been there three times, always rent a car and explore. Real nice to get away from the typical crowds of tourists… if I want buses and taxi’s that ran on time I would never leave Europe.

    When in remote areas, I was approached by locals multiple times, some with no english, but they took me back to their homes and gave me food/dates/coffee. Even goat herders milked their goats in front of me and gave me a bowl. They are very welcoming people!

    • Hi Geologist,
      Can you please recommend any places for car hire in Muscat?
      Thanks.

    • So true, we lived in Muscat, Oman for 15 months! I had absolutely no bad experiences! Very sweet people! I loved Oman, would love to go back!

      • Sounds to me like your cheapness bit you in the ass!!! If you’re going to try to be stingy then what do you expect??

  19. Thinking of a beach holiday there at Mussanah anyone got any advice please ba holiday looks ok and good value !?

    • You will almost certainly be staying at the Millennium Hotel, which offers an all-inclusive package. I’ve never heard anything bad about that hotel, but it is on a beach front and was originally constructed for, I think, the Asian Beach Games some years ago.

      The advantage is that you do not have to leave the hotel complex because everything is catered for you. The disadvantage of that is that you do not see anything except the hotel.

      BUT

      If you leave the hotel and go up to the Muliddah roundabout on the main Batinah highway, you could easily get a taxi to take you to see the forts of Al Hazm, Rustaq, Al Awabi and Nakhl and then bring you back to the hotel. Alternatively, you go up to the highway, turn left, go to Barka, and do the same trip the other way round.

      Do a Google search for the four places I have mentioned, and see if that is what you are looking for.

      Best of luck.

        • Further to my feedback. I found out yesterday that a very close Omani friend actually spent three days at the Millennium Hotel on his honeymoon! He had nothing but praise for the hotel, its amenities and the service.

          Secondly, and I had forgotten about this, the local town/village of Musannah has a surprisingly large number of small gold shops. Musannah is a small country town, and it’s not a place I know well, but it might be worth a visit one EVENING – don’t waste your time in the afternoon because everything shuts.

          Thirdly, at the Muliddah roundabout (which is where you turn off the main highway to go to the hotel) there is a large store called Ramez. It is full of cheap, not very high quality, merchandise made, primarily, in China. BUT, it might be worth checking out if you are in the market for inexpensive souvenirs. (I know of someone who partially furnished his flat with stuff from Ramez and was then praised for the “authenticity” of his decor.)

          Neil McBeath

  20. It is a true shame that you had such a terrible experience. My husband and I visited Oman in 2012 and loved it so much that we got jobs there in 2014 and worked there for three years. When we left, we missed it terribly. I’m now in the process of trying to go back (now divorced, and solo)! It truly is a beautiful place and is full of secrets that you won’t find in other places in the Gulf.

    Muscat IS a great city. Go back to see a show at the opera house. Go for a walk on the beach, drink tea, and sit at a hookah lounge in Shati al Qurm. Play golf at Al Mouj. You’ll have to get other recommendations from people who live there (I lived in Nizwa). We usually went to Muscat after beach camping when we wanted to feel the sea breeze over a drink at a rooftop bar. We’d go to places like the Crowne plaza for a treat, but one of our favorites was right on the corniche near where you stayed, at a total dive called the Marina Hotel that has a bar with a teeny tiny balcony and magnificent views. Go up there when they open before sunset prayers to get full stereo effect too. Maybe you wouldn’t call all of this “authentic” because it’s not old-timey and quaint and the people aren’t walking their camels along the dirt fishing village that Muscat was once upon a time. But it’s authentic to the Omanis. It’s real life. And the Omanis have blended traditional customs, infrastructure and architecture with technology in a way that other Gulf nations haven’t.

    Then get out of Muscat and go down the coast for a camping trip on one of the gorgeous cove beaches. You don’t even have to go that far. Take a picnic. Go snorkeling. Watch the mama sea turtles laying eggs. Swim in bioluminescent waters. Pick mussels from the rocks and cook them in the fire.

    Or travel inland (towards Nizwa or Rustaq). Go to the goat markets. Go lose yourself in the mountains that were once buried under the sea, go teeter on the edge of canyons, and climb and crawl through the most staggering wadis, where you can follow 400-year-old goat paths that lead you to oases and mud brick villages where people still live and farm. It’s truly magical.

    Make the effort to find some locals who can take you to a desert camel race early on a weekend morning.

    I could go on and on.

    Admittedly, it is hard to get around without a car, and a 4wd at that. But your disappointment with not finding the “authentic” Oman is quite unfair, given that you ‘fended off’ drivers (who are locals by law), instead insisting on the Big Bus tour and going through your “favorite” tour-booking websites (and were disappointed in both). This narrow approach means you missed some great opportunities.

    For example, why did you completely write off that taxi driver right at the beginning? Yes, maybe he was annoying. So next time, push back a little bit and ask him where he would take you. A “private tour” for a half day for $65 isn’t too bad as a first offer (considering the tour groups wanted $250, right?). Next time, get his phone number and tell him you’ll think it over. You just have to be creative and negotiate a little (very authentic, actually).

    You want to get out of the city? You don’t need to a tour agency. Omanis have friends and family everywhere and they love to help each other out. Ask a few taxi drivers and tell them where you want to go. They will call a friend or cousin or uncle who has a 4wd and can drive you up to Jebel Shams for the day. Once the prices are agreed on, everyone can relax and you will find that Omanis will adopt you. And you’ll have an interesting, inexpensive, and “authentic” experience.

    Or, when you go back to Oman with a newfound “take life by the balls” attitude, rent a 4wd yourself, pick up a copy of the Off Road Oman book, and get your mind blown.

    If you didn’t enjoy your hotel, why not find an Airbnb next time? Renting one that’s Omani or expat-run will give you an opportunity to ask for local advice.

    It is a shame that you didn’t have a nice time. But it’s not surprising given how scared you were. My suggestion? Never say never, and give Oman another chance.

    • LOL Melissa, I’ve never been afraid of anything in my life. But I do have certain rules for traveling as a solo female that are just common sense and help to keep me from getting into difficult situations. I do, however, appreciate your suggestions.

      • Your article is quite right.. if I would pay such huge amount for such low quality service, and hell hot weather, I would rather go to Maldives.
        Nothing to see here I confirm, after many years of staying.
        They did not get your point as they were with their husband, or boyfriends, but when a woman alone starred to all the time by the locals and Asians, it is really terrible.

    • Am a chef thinking of moving to Oman is any chance I can get a job there as a chef ?

    • I’d love to see how you get on as a now single female. You may find yourself treated very differently even if you take life by the balls. Actually this attitude may get you arrested!

    • Hi.
      I m sorry you are divorced. You guys look like a perfect couple. Anyways I also miss Oman. As i lived there for 8 years. I wish you met me back then.
      Bless you and good luck with your life.
      Regards.

    • Hi Melissa! What a beautiful description full of amazing suggestions. I think you should be the travel writer here. Very helpful and informative. To Barbara: You as an “author” did nothing with this article but make yourself sound incredibly entitled and disrespectful. Of course the hotel staff “hated” you-changing rooms FOUR times is absurd. You were annoyed by the locals and refused to engage with them (haggling for taxis is very often part of traveling and part of the culture you say you were in search of) instead opting for the tour that the local taxi driver told you was a bad idea. You expected people who were just going about their day playing a game to stop and include you. Why? Would you go sit down with strangers having lunch at an outdoor cafe in New York or Paris? No. It would be odd and rude. Same here. They don’t owe you anything. And you took their photo and posted it? You even sounded annoyed that the city shuts down in the heat of the day. You didn’t want a cultural experience. You wanted to play tourist on your terms. I recommend sticking to all-inclusive tours in the Caribbean. You are not an adventurer.

    • Hi Melissa, sorry to jump on your response like this. I’m heading to Muscat in a week and have several questions on how to get around and what to do for 4 to 5 days stay.

      I loved some of the things you’ve described. Anyway we could have a chat?

  21. In your picture of the souq there are three Omanis (two Bedus). That’s including the Omani in the shop. It’s underneath the paragraph that says no Omanis to be found!

  22. I want to know about the refinery job for unskilled labour in omani desert.What is the nature of the job because I learnt it ia two weeks on,two weeks off.How tedious is the job?Hope it is not like modern day slavery and finally hope there is no assault?I wish to know if it advisable to come work in omani desert where petroleum is explored.Thanks

  23. I’m really sorry for your experience in Oman. I just came back from a 2 weeks holiday with a friend and I must admit it was one of the best trips in my life. I travel a lot and have been in contact with many nationalities but the Omanis are one of the friendliest people on earth and all other travelers that we met agreed.
    Without a car it’s impossible to get around. But with a car you can go everywhere and it’s not expensive. You can go to the mountains, desert and beautiful wadis for a hike and swim.
    I hope your blog post doesn’t discourage others to visit this beautiful country. Tip: go in September before high season to avoid many tourists.

      • Hi Barbara,

        Your article is very rude and misleading, you had a very narrow-minded approach and did not behave like a travel blogger that you portray yourself to be. You got into a bad hotel? Well, sorry, but what rathole have you chosen? This is how it sounds according to your description.. Or indeed you are just a very difficult person and you should not mislead others with your posts, as this is article just describes your own subjective opinion, when you actually refused to do anything to be able to discover the real Oman…
        We are in Muscat now (yes, we have a car and it makes a difference) and we have a great joyful and relaxing time with amazing Omanis treating us so kindly, amazing local food, beautiful places to visit and a great infrastructure to be able to move around.

        Anyway, good luck with your travels…just don’t judge a place and its people when you don’t actually try to discover them first..

        • Again not traveling solo! Until you do you have no idea what a solo female has to deal with particularly in a Muslim country

  24. Lived in Oman for 5 years. Not great, not terrible. Most of the people were friendly, but many things, normal even in shitholes of Europe, like Balkans, like decent public transportation, are unavailable. When you get used to it and you roam around for a few days and get into the city of Muscat, it’s quite nice. Of course, you should have googled it first, prepare your homework, find some nicer hotel and read some more about restaurants and the things would be better. My experience is that the locals are way nicer than in other places on Arabian peninsula. Still, most of the services are handled by Asians…

  25. To all those thinking that Oman is Beautiful and peacefull. Look for foreigners who are working in Oman, and ask them of their opinions. They are treated as slaves, with no any rights, their passports snatched just after landing at the airport etc. “Truth hurts”… ooh and by the way let no one cheat you that so and so app, rated a so and so country this way or that… Many countries get rated that way. Do a research first.

    All in all, unless its amust, i dont see my self setting foot in Oman.

    • I was an expatraite who lived in Oman for more than a decade. The racism, classism and hideousness in general is plain depressing. My employer had my passport held for ‘security reasons’. Oman (and other Gulf states) laws are VERY skewed towards locals and have no fair treatment for expats. Omanis are passively racist and it shows very often when one lives there.

      Regarding the rating of Oman, it is even annoying when some naive tourists go to Oman, spend a few days in that shithole and rave about it, ignoring the expatriates who are abused and discriminated.

      • Everything you have written is the same in Dubai, then why people raving about it! We need to decide first are we looking at the country from the expats living there a point of views and encountering the issues there or from tourism point of views. Both are different. All GCC countries treat certain nationalities like crap especially Asians. All GCC countries have discrimination, racism towards expats and the laws favor the locals, employers, landlords, etc. But she seems to be raving about Dubai so apparently she has no concerns how expats are treated in Dubai since she enjoyed it there as a tourist. Tourists normally don’t care about such things, they just care about having a good time for the money they spending.

  26. I recently went to Selalah for a 4 day trip-I loved it -I found the people to be charming and my appetite for another visit has been whetted-I plan a trip to Muscat before year end.

  27. Sad to hear about your unfortunate trip. This is most unusual. Omani`s are, for a fact, the friendliest people in the Gulf and are often called `The Gentlemen of the Gulf`.
    It is also the safest place in the Gulf. I have lived here for over 40 years and travel all over Oman on my own in the course of my job. 99% of people I know who have worked or visited Oman want to return. We have so many nice hotels in Muscat to choose from. Unfortunate about your experience. You did n`t Google it ? Surely you would have seen if it was next to a motorway?
    It doesn`t sound as if you were prepared for your trip. Oman`s terrain is varied and spectacular. There were so many nice places you could have visited not far from Muscat.
    Just know that you are in the minority.

    • Hi Anne: I appreciate your considerate comment, even though we disagree. I find that different places in the world resonate with different people. Oman just wasn’t my cup of tea.

    • Calling Omanis the friendliest people in the Gulf is like calling a turd the least shitty one in a turd house. Oman is a hell hole built on slave labor with backwards laws.

      • Even that friendliness depends on who you are. If you are a white, congrats! Omanis will be the most ‘friendly’ people to you on this planet.

        If you happen to be, say, South Asian, well..not so much. Omanis WILL treat you like dogshit and make you clean their ass!

        • That is awful! We are white, and we had a great experience, but, I know Arabs can be very racist, some of the worst! People are people. I saw these Omani women, powdered their faces white, they looked like dead people in their black abayas and black head covering.

  28. Oman has definitely a lot of very beautiful places made by humans and nature. However, the author meant, that the country has lack of touristic infrastructure, guidelines and bad public transportation system . It seems, that the locals intend to squeeze as much money, as possible from tourists and offer really poor service.

  29. Looks like you have some Omani tourist office trolls posting here. I\’ll beleive you before them.

  30. FINALLY!!

    Finally I read someone’s travel blog about Oman who actually makes sense, rather than just writing a lyrical poetry about Oman like other blogs out there.

    As an ex-expatriate who lived in Oman, I find Oman to the most overhyped upcoming destination (even more hyped than Dubai – just check sites like Reddit.com to see what I mean). Omanis have a wierd sense of pride thinking that their country is an utopia while it is extremely backward and regressive.

    People say Oman is ‘authentic’- seriously!? I never got this appeal. The country is mostly run by underpaid slave like labors from South Asia who have no rights whatsoever. Omanis project a good PR to the rest of the world about their country while it is just as bad, if not worse than the other Gulf states in terms of human rights.

    All I would recommed is to skip Oman and visit much more beautiful countries around the world which are not run by slaves, are tourist friendly and have less toxic cultures.

    • I seem to remember that there was someone called “truth-hurts”who used to post bilious messages on Dave’s ESL Cafe. Are you the same person?

      Fact Check.

      If Oman is not tourist friendly, why did Lonely Planet declared Muscat to be the world’s second best city to visit in 2012?

      On the same point, why have tourist numbers to Oman have doubled in a decade – 1.54 million (2008) to 3.24 million (2018)?

      In 2018 , on Expat Insider, an Indian was quoted as saying “Oman is a peaceful and easy-going country, with tremendous natural beauty and super-friendly people”. Later the same article added “There are restrictions on all aspects of life in Saudi Arabia” and the overall consensus was that while 90% of expatriates were satisfied with life in Bahrain, Oman ranked second in the Gulf with a satisfaction rate of 79%.

      At present, 43.7% of the population of Oman is expatriate. None of them is a penniless refugee. Not one of them has been driven into bonded labour by desperation. These people are in Oman by choice. The majority of them have come to earn salaries that are higher than those available in their home countries, and/or to enjoy a higher standard of living.

      It does not work out for everybody, but many of the complaints made by the original poster are trivial in the extreme. They almost rank with those of the Welsh women who took a pre-season, off-Peak “dream holiday”to Benidorm, and then complained that it was full of Spanish people.

      Had Ms. Weibel simply gone to Ruwi Bus Station and spent one US dollar on a Number 1 Bus ticket to Mabellah, she could have sat in comfort and safety in the seat section specially reserved for ladies, and she would have passed the Abu Bakr al Siddique Mosque, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, the Opera House, the Ministries District, at least three major shopping areas, several parks, and more restaurants than can be counted. No country can be blamed if visitors fail to do their research and head off in the wrong direction.

      • i agree that the author did not do her homework before traveling to Oman. if you don’t do your homework and even travel to Dubai, you will not be in any better situation there as well.

      • The point was not to ‘pass’ these sites but to visit them, photograph them, ‘feel’ them . The point was not to sit in the female section of the bus feeling like a second class visitor. My God you are a font of useless crap from a purely superior male aspect. Sure you aren’t on the payroll?

        • Dear Lisa,

          Women who are told to sit at the BACK of a bus – as has happened at times in Israel – are treated as if they were second class citizens. When bus companies allocate separate seating for women and families at the FRONT of the bus – as is the case in the UAE and Oman – it is to ensure that single female passengers of all nationalities feel safe from unwanted attention – of the type that occurs all too often in, for example, India.

          Secondly, when I pointed out that the OP would have “passed”various sites, I did not think that I would have to point out that a public bus service travels between things called “Bus Stops”. Possibly you are unaware of this, but what happens is that you press the bell on the bus, signalling your desire to alight, and then go off to “visit”, “photograph”or “feel”whatever it is that has attracted your attention. After that, you can go back to the bus stop, wait for the next bus, and then proceed on your journey of exploration.

          I am sorry to have to “manslpain”how public transport works, but I am completing my
          37th year in Oman, and I think I know more about how things work in the Sultanate than either you or the OP.

  31. Hi

    I totally agree with SHB I’m Omani and you have missed quite alot, im sorry to hear aBout your experience. I have visitors coming from all around who now pit stops every year. Any one needs further information or assistance about where to in Oman. Email me. Our country is one of the safest/cleanest countries in MENA region let alone the rich history behind our forts.

  32. Sorry to say, you were in wrong hands. Oman is definitely a safe heaven and the most cleanest Middle East country in GCC.

    I could understand from all what I read is that you weren’t well prepared for this trip. There are so many beautiful things to do and see in Oman. You haven’t even been to the green lawned beaches of Muscat or the yeti beach drive. You haven’t taken a boat cruise by Qantab. You haven’t taken the curvy roads to Jabel Akhdar nor seen the beach side of crowne Plaza. You haven’t been to Nakhal where the Nakhal Fort and the natural fate palms are seen. You haven’t been to then farmhouses of Barka where you get to see ostrich and peacocks. Many more .. so I guess you just loitered in the places near to your Hotel

    I’m sorry but it’s not your fault fully, you haven’t been informed much on this place.

    • Yeah. I totally agree. Oman is a really beautiful and unique country which has a look of its own. I am thoroughly disappointed that a person would write something like this without actually knowing anything about the country

  33. Salaam.

    Well i would like some info. May i request for your help or knowledge sharing please

    • Are you asking me, or are you asking the original poster?

      • I want to know about the refinery job for unskilled labour in omani desert.What is the nature of the job because I learnt it ia two weeks on,two weeks off.How tedious is the job?Hope it is not like modern day slavery and finally hope there is no assault?I wish to know if it advisable to come work in omani desert where petroleum is explored.Thanks

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